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Foundation rig forest
Tough ground and groundwater conditions and a tight piling programme add up to a challenging contract on a high speed railway in southern Germany. Max Soudain reports

Drivers hurtling along the A9 Autobahn recently may have been struck by an arresting sight as they passed the small town of Offenbau, 45km south of Nuremberg. Not a speed camera, but a forest of piling machine masts just metres from the road.

Thirteen rigs are working close together to complete construction of two enormous secant pile walls for a tunnelled section on part of the new high speed railway between Nuremberg and Ingolstadt, 83km to the south.

Joint venture contractors Bilfinger Berger and Max Bögl Bauunternehmung are using two Bauer BG22s and nine BG 30/36/45s, one Wirth Eco22 and one Liebherr HS873 fitted with a Leffer RDM1500 to install over 2,600 rotary bored piles for the 1,334m tunnel, which will protect Offenbau residents from the disturbance of ICE trains passing at up to 300km/h.

The new line is being built for German Railways Deutsche Bahn, as well as Planungsgesellschaft Bahnbau and Deutsche Einheit. The tracks run mostly in cutting alongside the A9, before turning away to join lines running into Ingolstadt station. Construction began in 1998 and the high-speed link is due to open in 2006.

The contract is split into three 'lots' - north, middle and south. Bilfinger Berger is technical leader on the 35km-long Lot North, with Max Bögl Bauunternehmung as commercial leader. Work involves excavating over 3M cubic metres of soil and rock and includes construction of 29 rail bridges, 14 road bridges, two tunnels and three road crossings in open cut.

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