Cabinet Secretary launches massive machine for Glasgow waste water tunnel

Aug 31, 2016

Construction of the biggest waste water tunnel ever to be built in Scotland is about to start after Roseanna Cunningham, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, today launched a giant state-of-the-art tunnel boring machine in the south of Glasgow.

The 1000 tonne, 180 metre-long tunnel boring machine (TBM), effectively an underground factory on rails/wheels, will shortly begin constructing the tunnel between Craigton and Queen’s Park after the Cabinet Secretary launched the machine in a ceremony at Craigton industrial estate with a 10-year-old schoolboy who named it Daisy the Driller.

The TBM was launched by cracking a bottle on the side of the giant TBM from above the launch chamber, in the style of ship launches on rivers such as the Clyde. But the bottle contained a litre of finest Scottish water rather than the customary champagne.

The £100m tunnel, which at 3.1 miles long will be five times longer than the Clyde Tunnel and at 4.7 metres in diameter big enough to fit a double decker bus inside, is a key part of Scottish Water’s £250m, five-year programme of work, launched in 2013, to improve river water quality and the natural environment.

The programme is the biggest investment in the Greater Glasgow area’s waste water infrastructure in more than a century.

The Shieldhall Tunnel will enable Scottish Water to improve water quality in the River Clyde and its tributaries and tackle flooding.

When completed, it will provide 90,000 cubic metres of extra storm water storage, the equivalent of 36 Olympic-sized swimming pools, and the increased capacity of the waste water network will provide better screening of overflows into rivers and reduce the risk of flooding in parts of the Mount Florida/Toryglen and Giffnock areas.

The TBM was named by Lewis Bennett, of Craigton Primary School,  following a competition run by Scottish Water. It is tradition in the tunnelling industry to give each TBM a name.

Speaking at the launch, Ms Cunningham  said: “I am delighted to have launched the tunnelling phase of the Shieldhall Tunnel project, which is the biggest project in Scottish Water’s on-going investment in the Greater Glasgow area’s waste water network. This, in turn, is the first step in a much larger investment programme to improve the area’s drainage and sewerage infrastructure which is essential to Glasgow’s economic prosperity.”

Douglas Millican, Scottish Water’s Chief Executive, said: “The environment and communities throughout Greater Glasgow will benefit significantly from the Shieldhall Tunnel and other investment by Scottish Water because it will protect the natural environment and meet the needs of growth, economic development and regeneration. It will also support jobs and employment opportunities, including a number of apprenticeships.

“The Shieldhall Tunnel is the biggest of many projects which are progressing deep beneath the Greater Glasgow area’s streets largely out of sight of most people who live, work and travel here.

“Much of the existing waste water infrastructure was built in Victorian times and the modernisation of the system and construction of new underground assets such as the Shieldhall Tunnel will enable Greater Glasgow to realise its above-ground aspirations.”

The team building the Shieldhall Tunnel for Scottish Water, known as the Glasgow Tunnel Partnership, is a commercial joint venture between Costain and VINCI Construction Grands Projets (corr.) called CVJV.

Costain and VINCI have been involved in some of the world’s major engineering projects, including the Channel Tunnel.

Working 24 hours a day, five days a week at a speed of about 30 metres per day and at depths of up to 32 metres or 105 feet, the German-built TBM will tunnel beneath a large swathe of south-west Glasgow, including Pollok and Bellahouston parks, and is expected to complete its journey and emerge at Queen’s Park after about 13 months when the new tunnel will be connected to the existing network and the project completed by about the end of 2017.

The route of the tunnel was chosen to maximise the use of parkland and minimise disruption.

The overall project began in early 2015 and included a massive amount of preparatory work, such as mining consolidation and utility diversions.

More information on the Shieldhall Tunnel project can be found here.

More information about the event:


IT’S effectively a very long factory on rails and is about to start drilling its way under the southside of Glasgow for more than three miles.

The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) will construct the Shieldhall Tunnel for Scottish Water as part of the biggest waste water infrastructure investment in Scotland since Victorian times.

The TBM will be 180 metres long, longer than 14 buses end-to-end, and will build a tunnel large enough to take a double-decker bus.

A team of up to 20 people will operate the TBM inside the tunnel, working 24 hours a day, five days a week in shifts, from a total staff of about 70.

It will tunnel at an average rate of about 30 metres per day at varying depths.

Pre-cast concrete will be put into place in series’ of six sections to form the full wall using a series of hydraulic rams that are at the back of the cutting head.

The TBM will install about 18,000 of these concrete segments to form the tunnel and will excavate about 280,000 tonnes of material.

Each of the steel-fibre reinforced concrete segments is 1.5 metres long and weighs approx. two tonnes. There are six segments to make up each section of tunnel (ie 12 tonnes per section). There are 3,200 lengths of pipe so the total weight is about 38,400 tonnes.

The TBM weighs about 1000 tonnes, more than the weight of two Boeing 747 jets.

It has a rotating cutterhead at the front and a series of trailers behind, housing mechanical and electrical equipment and a conveyor belt to remove earth, stones and rocks.

This material will be recycled for use in other projects. The aim is to re-use everything, either in the Shieldhall Tunnel project or elsewhere.

The electrically-powered TBM has a rotating cutterhead at the front, across which slurry will be pumped.

The slurry, with excavated rocks and earth, will then be sent back to a slurry treatment plant at Craigton industrial estate, where the TBM is being launched.

Herrenknecht TBMs were used in London’s ongoing Crossrail project, one of Europe’s biggest construction projects, and others such as the world’s longest railway tunnel in the Swiss Alps, which was completed several weeks ago.

The German manufacturers’ TBMs are also being used in projects such as the Doha Metro in Qatar and an undersea highway tunnel in Hong Kong.

The TBM was brought to Glasgow via ship then the final 14 gantry sections were delivered to site by road and assembled before the launch.


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