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Santiago Metro NATM design - TunnelTalk

Optimized NATM designs for Santiago Metro

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Apr 2003


Santiago Metro NATM design - TunnelTalk

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Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

Part 2: Current NATM construction for the Santiago Metro, Chile, is costing some 40% less than NATM running
tunnels constructed five years ago. Value engineering processes are creating even greater potential economies on
the coming Line 4 contracts. How these economies have been achieved and where Metro goes from here on its
path of design and construction evolution is investigated.

Technical feasibility of NATM construction in Santiago, as demonstrated by projects in 1994-5 and 1997-2000, gave
Santiago Metro's management the confidence to take major leaps forward for the current Line 2 and Line 5 extensions
and for the underground sections of the new Line 4.
First, all the underground stations and connecting running
tunnels are mined. There are no open boxes, to cause the
disruption and closure of public roads endured during earlier
open-cut Metro works. Secondly, a combi-shell lining system
has been adopted for all underground spaces. Previous NATM
running tunnels were finished with 400mm thick heavily
reinforced in-situ concrete linings over 200mm-250mm of
primary shotcrete support. Running tunnels on the current
works are lined with 150mm-200mm of initial reinforced
shotcrete and finished with a 250mm-300mm secondary lining,
for a total 400mm-450mm shotcrete finish.
These two strategic decisions represent a large part of the
reported 40% cost reduction of subsurface metro construction
for the current extensions, compared to the 1997-2000 Line 5

Station platform tunnels and adit junctions at

La Cisterna Station

extension. In addition, directives for new works require that

construction be kept as economical as possible and that
underground alignments be "as shallow as possible but as deep as necessary".

As a result, most current excavations are less than one tunnel diameter deep. With top of rail at 17 -18m below ground

surface, the crowns of 17m wide x 14m high (150m ) station caverns lie just 6-7m below surface, with 10m-12m cover

above 60m -65m single-tube double-track running tunnels.

Fundamentally, it is the favourable Santiago Ripio conglomerate that affords the opportunity to excavate such
structures but seeing first hand the scale of the openings and the method by which they have been achieved, is

impressive. The junction of 150m mezzanine access adits, with 150m station platform caverns and 60m -70m
double-track running tunnels either end make for spectacular NATM excavations and all beneath limited cover.

Quinta Normal Station, Line 5 Extension

Quinta Normal Station at the end of the Line 5 extension
is a massive affair. Underground works include a vast
180m long x 25m wide x 27m deep cover and cut
excavation, through the bottom of which will be the
station of a new suburban rail service. Across the middle
of this huge box lies the mined NATM Quinta Normal
Metro station.
Designed by the Ingendesa/ARA/DSC JV, concurrent
excavation of the metro station and rail station box has
been a logistical challenge, when T&TI was on site in
February 2003, excavation of the box, between drivenpile supported walls, had split the 140m long NATM
metro station in half. Contactor Inela was progressing
sidewall drift excavation of the 150m2 station paltform
cavern to the east of the continuing box excavation.
Excavation of the station platform cavern west by CIL
was already complete. Precast concrete elements forming
the roof of the box also form the road deck of Matucana
Street above. Large machine excavated, reinforced
concrete piles supporting the roof will also support the concrete deck that will bridge the metro station and carry
the track bed across the open box structure.
These impressive structures are designed by joint ventures between Chilean consulting engineers, and specified a
minimum 10% contribution from international NATM designers to incorporate state-ofthe-art expertise. The JVs are
Cade-Idepe with Geoconsult of Austria; the Ingendesa-ARA JV with the US and UK offices of the Dr Sauer Corporation
(DSC); and the Arcadis Geotecnica-Minmetal group with Bureau de Projetos e Consultoria of Brazil.
NATM excavations for the current Line 2 and Line 5 extensions, comprising about 6km of running tunnels and seven
underground stations, lie in good quality ripio above the local ground water table. Line 4 however, takes the
underground alignment into a soil configuration dominated by clays, with intercalations of poorly graded (and
sometimes completely cohesion less) sand and gravel lenses. In other areas, particularly close to the Maipo River in
the south and near the San Carlos Canal on the east, identified ground water in the ripio strata increases the potential
for less stable conditions and possible water seepage.


Santiago Metro NATM design - TunnelTalk

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These issues were considered during basic design of the new works by Cade-Idepe/Geoconsult, and detailed designs
have since introduced refinements and different philosophies for NATM structures in these conditions. Such differences
have considerable influence on constructability and tunnelling crews admit to having favourites among the different
design specifications.

La Cisterna Station, Line 2 South Extension

Fig 1 - (clockwise from top) Details of the junctions zones at La Clstema Station, illustrating the
increased size of the adits for breakout of lateral platform tunnels; a plan of La Cisterna Station shows
its location under Gran Avenida main street; detail of the combi-shell primary and final shotcrete lining
system that represents part of the reduction in subsurface metro extension costs
La Cistema Station at the end of the Line 2 south extension, connecting with Line 4, is the 1argest station on the
current works from a passenger access point of view. From a large access box, three 150m2 passenger access adits
extend laterally some 7m under the adjacent Gran Avenida main street to intersect the 150m2 x 140m long station
platform cavern. Designed in detail by DSC, the large station caverns are being excavated by contractor DPS using
the two sidewall drift and central core excavation sequence. Work on this large station contract started in
September 2001. When TunnelTalk was on site, excavatin of the two outer access adits was complete, work had
started on the middle access adit, and the tunnelling crews had broken into excavation of the perpendicular station
platform tunnels. La Cisterna Station with its 500mm of final combi-shell finish (300mm primary + 200mm
secondary) is scheduled to be handed over to M&E contractors in September 2003. The two new stations and
2.2km of track on the Line 2 south extension is due to open in December 2004. Subsequent surface alignment
construction-of Line in this area will run over the top of the mined Line 2 station structures.

Design differences

A major difference in design is the division of multiple headings for excavation of large faces. For 150m access adits
Cade-ldepel/Geoconsult favours full span top headings, followed by a bench and invert sequence, with a wedge of
unexcavated ground in the top heading providing face support and worker access. Under shallow cover, full span top
headings require pre-support using spiling or mini-pile forepollng to stabilise conditions and control potential surface
settlement. Larger boulders in the ripio had caused drilling accuracy and rod jamming problems for long, small
diameter pre-support systems. These were overcome using shorter, larger diameter pipe roof methods, with 140mm
diameter pipes installed and filled with concrete prior to excavation advance.

For the first detailed design of 150m underground

TBM alternative study
As testimony to Metro's policy of investigating and
introducing new techniques, it commissioned a
comprehensive study into the probable costs and
feasibility of using TBMs on the 8km-9km of Line 4

station caverns DSC introduced the two side-wall and

central core drift sequence, with each drift excavated
on a top heading, bench and invert sequence (Fig 1).
This approach eliminates the need for forepoling or

running tunnels between Rotonda Grecia and Tobalaba

spiling under shallow cover and allows rotation of

Stations. This was primarily initiated to address

equipment and crews between concurrent faces of

excavation options for a section of this route through


deposits of clay, which (although stiff) is described as

two to three times weaker than the ripio. It was also

Cade-ldepe/Geoconsut has also adopted the twin

thought that EPBM technology may be more

sidewall drift sequence for the 150m station

appropriate through the potentially water bearing ripio

platform caverns for the Line 2 north extension

close to the San Carlos Canal. Cade Idepe and

stations. For its Line 4 detail designs, Bureau de

Geoconsult, as basic designer of Line 4 and detail

Projetos with Arcadis Geotcnica-Minmetal has

designers of the clay zone section, completed and

presented the most in-depth report of those

adopted single side-wall drift sequences for the large


150m station caverns (Fig 2), with face support

"We started by assuming that the single-tube, double-

wedges, systematic forepoling or spiling pre-support

track NATM running tunnels - pre-supported in the

in zones of potentially unstable ground, and

crown and lined with a single 350mm-450mm thick

'elephant's foot' foundations for lattice girder arches.

combi-shell shotcrete lining, reinforced with lattice


Santiago Metro NATM design - TunnelTalk

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girders on 1m centres and welded wire mesh and/or

A particular detail design refinement concerns the

rebar in between - represented 100% of the cost/m,"

invert area in the junctions between lateral access

explained Martin Bfer,Project Engineer for Geoconsult.

edits and perpendicular station platform tunnels.

"Against that we studied three TBM alternatives - first

using one 10.3m diameter Mixshield TBM to excavate a
single-tube, double-track tunnel in open and closed

Initially, the two inverts were at the same elevation,

requiring partial breakout of the access adit invert to

mode as necessary; secondly using two 10.3m

allow for a continuous closed invert in the

diameter TBMs, an EPB machine for the clay and

subsequent platform tunnel.

potentially water bearing ripio zone and an open faced

machine for the more stable ripio section south of a

To reduce demolition efforts, DSC increased the size

Tobalaba portal; and thirdly, two 7.5m diameter

of the access adit in the 17m-18m long junction zone

Mixshields to advance two single track tubes from the

to 165m2 to provide a permanent invert in the adit

south end" he said.

and to create space on the adit sidewalls for

The data studied included TBM delivery and assembly

breakout of lateral platform tunnels with permanent

lead times; the cost of the precast concrete segmental

inverts of their own (Fig 1). The extra space between

lining and production plant; scheduling; station layout

design - a major consideration for the TBM
alternatives; and the risks to the overall project

the lowered access adit invert and the platform

tunnel cross section will be backfilled either with
compacted earth or with concrete creating the

Set against the 100% cost/m NATM baseline, all three

eventual track bed and station platform structures.

TBM alternatives came in more expensive and with

Geoconsult on the other hand, has designed a

greater risk to schedule. The single large TBM option

permanent invert for the access adit and a step down

was the nearest competitive price at 120% of the

to the closed invert section of the lateral platform

NATM approach, but where NATM presented a potential

station tunnels (Fig 3). Bureau de Projetos has

eight-month margin on project schedule, the one large

TBM had no margin at all. The next most competitive
price was the two large diameter TBMs. at 135% and
presented a time margin of about three months. The
most expensive option was the two smaller TBM
alternative, at 140%, but it did present a time margin
of 6.5 months. "To estimate time schedules we

adopted the same ptinciple.

A more fundamental difference in NATM philosophy
relates to the installation of lattice girders and their
contribution to long term support and stability. DSC
and Bureau de Projetos design lattice girders with

assumed advance rates of 14.5m/24h day/machine for

the wide edge of the triangle against the tunnel wall,

the large diameter single-tube, double-track TBM

while Geoconsult places the pointed side against the

options and 3m/24h day/heading for the NATM

wall. Each method is preferred for the same reason -

approach," said Bfer, Having commissioned the study,

to help the nozzle man or robot boom to spray at

Metro satisfied itself that with NATM it has selected the

various angles to prevent shotcrete shadows or voids

most appropriate approach for all underground works

in the geological conditions beneath Santiago.

at the girder locations.

With regard to the long-term stability, DSC believes that lattice girders contribute minimal load bearing support and
could be omitted from the primary lining, with steel fibre providing extra strength or load bearing support where
necessary. Engineers in other design groups agree in certain instances. As Martin Bfer. Senior Design Engineer with
Geoconsult explained: "The arguably limited contribution of lattice girders to short term load bearing capacity of the
primary lining is an advantage which is highly appreciated. We must also design for the possibility of earthquake
activity during construction, which requires a margin of stability to allow primary lining to stand for 1-2 years before
the final lining goes in. If you remove the lattice girders, their contribution to the load bearing safety factor would have
to be substituted with extra layers of wire mesh or steel bar reinforcement. Steel fibre has been considered for Line 4
contracts and in principle, whenever structural efforts do not require wire mesh or steel bar reinforcement, steel fibre
is preferred, but we would use it only in the running tunnels. In our opinion bending moments would be too great for
its application in station cavern excavations."
Engineers within Metro are yet to be convinced and girders
remain in all NATM designs. In addition to their arguably
limited contribution to load bearing requirements, girders also
help maintain a correct tunnel profile. Although this could be
achieved by other means, the purpose is important in Santiago.
"If the distance between the girders is increased from just 1m
to 1.2m centres in this ground," said Otto Gerstgrasser, NATM
site supervision engineer for DSC on the Line 2 south
extension, "the shape of the profile suffers; and shotcrete
applied to fill excavation outside the design fine is a cost to the
To date, the largest percentage of shotcrete by far in Santiago
is dry mix with nearly all contractors on current contracts
using Aliva dry mix rotor units and hand-held nozzles.

Fig 2. Design and excavation sequence of

According to Pedro Honorato, one of two Sika/Aliva agents in

150m platform tunnel caverns for Line 4

Santiago, there are some 30 Aliva units working on current

metro contracts. Things may change however on Line 4, where wet mix shotctete with steel fibre reinforcement may
be specified to improve quality, durability, water tightness, air quality during application, and production cycles. To
date Sacyr is the only contractor using wet mix shotcrete, working with two Putzmeister shotcreting rigs.
Permeability of shotcrete is a significant concern, particularly
on Line 4 where water ingress and seepage is expected to be
higher than on previous NATM contracts. In theses areas
Metro was advised to include positive waterproofing systems
such as PVC geotextile membranes or spray on waterproofing
barriers such as MBT's Masterseal 340F. Metro however, in
efforts to control costs, believes that water ingress levels will
be manageable as a maintenance issue, that the high content


Santiago Metro NATM design - TunnelTalk

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of fines and particles in the ground water will self-heal leaks

and seepage points, and that the quality of concrete linings
can be specified to prevent heavy ingress or seepage. To this
end, designers have specified the use of microsilica in
shotcrete mixes to meet an average maximum water ingress
of 20mm on probes when exposed to 7 bar water pressure.
The in-situ concrete lining on the first 1997-2000 Line 5 NATM extension, close to the Mapocho River and in the ground
With perched water lenses, was designed by Cade-ldepe/Geoconsult to meet a watertight requirement. The 400mm450mm thick lining, reinforced with 100-120kg/m3 of rebar, limited tensile strain due to shrinkage to within O.5mm6mm/m instead of the O.3mm/m requested by the standards.
Workmanship, quality, productivity
Productivity and rates of advance are a concern for all those working on, and anticipating construction contracts on,
the 33km long, 27-station, Line 4 (some 15km and 10 stations of which are underground in NATM excavations).
Vicente Acua, Metro's Line 4 Programme Manager, described the work to be achieved to meet the promised thirdquarter 2005 in-service opening date as "epic".
To meet the tight construction schedules, there is a push from contractors to relax NATM specifications and allow
excavation rounds of up to 2m. This is resisted by designers, who might in general agree with increasing round
lengths, but on a progressive approach and only if reasonable in view of the ground behaviour. As Gerstgrasser, DSC
site supervising engineer explained: "Production could be increased by as much as 50% by leaving round lengths as
they are and making improvements in construction methods and logistics." For example, he suggested, the excavation
cycle could be improved by using purpose designed tunnel excavators. At present contractors are using standard
backhoe machines that have no 360 articulated buckets and require profiling by hand. There are also problems with
muck handling. Muck gets stockpiled behind tunnel faces waiting to be lifted to the surface for permitted off site
muckhauling schedules. "There is little point in increasing production without first addressing muck handling issues,"
said Gerstgrasser.

NATM stations in clay

Fig 4. Binocular configuration design for the Plaza Egaa and Los Orientales stations located in a clay
zone near the Mapocho River

For the two underground stations located in the clay dominated deposits on Line 4 (Plaza Ega and Los Orientales,
Cade-idepe and Geoconsult have designed a binocular configuration for the two 140m long stations located in the
clay zone. Volume losses and surface settlements are expected to be higher then in the ripio, at up to 30mm on
the runing tunnels. To control deformation in the stations, sequenced excavation will start with a 10m high x 6m
wide pilot heading, into which a series of 1.1m diameter permanent central support columns on 4.7m centres will
be cast, working back to the access point.
This will be followed by excavation of the binocular tubes either side, progressing together on a staggered advance
and on a top heading, with temporary invert and bench/invert excavation sequence. Beneath an average cover of
8m-9m, the station cavern will be supported initially with 300mm of reinforced shotcrete and finished with a
200mm thick in-situ concrete lining.

Production cycles would also improve by using higher output wet-mix shotcrete nozzle booms and mobile units. In
conjunction with purpose designed excavator machines, more headings could be developed. At present, advance in
many cases is limited by logistics of one or two headings.
While there are these areas presenting room for production improvement, it must be said that the quality of the
workmanship on display in Santiago is impressive, with contractors undertaking NATM work with very little or in some
cases no previous tunnelling experience.
Commenting on the differences between detail designers, Aculla said that it is from these differences that Metro will
establish its own set of design standards and norms for future works, "We believe we have made a good compromise
between speed of advance, application of modern technology, cost and quality," he said, "and that we have achieved
good optimisation between construction needs and permanent works requirements. Our efforts to research cost
savings and improve quality and construction rates, however, will continue as we progress network expansion

Santiago Metro withstands massive earthquake - TunnelTalk, Mar 2010
Santiago Metro goes underground with NATM - TunnelTalk, Apr 2003


Santiago Metro NATM design - TunnelTalk

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