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Hydrodemolition Efficiency in

Tunnel Repair Solution

The Belgian railway operator, Infrabel, ur-

gently needed to repair defective concrete

in the Biéreau tunnel just south of Brussels.

Hydrodemolition with a Conjet Robot 365

was used to selectively remove the dam-

aged and decaying concrete at record

speed.

T

he 875 m long, 10.5 m diameter Biéreau tunnel

forms part of the 4.4 km long dual Line 161D

railway track linking the cities of Ottignies and

Louvain-la-Neuve, 34 km south of the Belgian

capital Brussels.

The tunnel was opened in 1975 and during its near

40 years of service, the tunnel’s concrete skin had dete-

riorated and parts were falling off. There was also evi-

dence of longitudinal cracking.

It needed urgent repairs and Belgian railway opera-

tor, Infrabel, has invested more than €4M in the tunnel’s

restoration.

Closing the tunnel completely was not possible due

to public transport demands in the urban area. So it was

decided the only option was to restore the tunnel in two

sections and working and repairing the concrete from one

track while trains passed by slowly on the other line.

The restricted space and necessary safety and envi-

ronment precautions were critical considerations for the

overall renovation project, which had to be completed in

just 220 days.

Extremely Restricted Working

Envelope

Due to these restrictions, the restoration contractor,

Bageci, a regional branch of industrial Belgian Group CFE,

opted for the hydrodemolition technique, which uses a

very high-pressure water jet to selectively remove the

defective concrete from the walls and roof.

Bageci bought a Conjet Robot 365 with multipurpose

arm and a specially adapted feedbeam, carrying the cra-

dle and jetting lance, to fit the curvature of the tunnel

wall.

Conjet’s representative in Belgium, BPC International,

sold the hydrodemolition equipment. The company was

also responsible for service, support and spare parts sup-

ply to guarantee 24 h productivity and availability of the

robot..

A 500 kW Hammelmann S1200-48 high-pressure wa-

ter pump and the Conjet Robot were installed on flatbed

rail wagons fitted with foldable, protective walls. This al-

lowed the hydrodemolition and restoration work to be

completed on one side of the tunnel while trains could

safely pass on the opposite track.

Page 15

Contractors World International Vol 6 No 1