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Key players meet at Istanbul's Tunnel Expo Turkey 2015

SINAN ÖZTÜRK @sinan_ozturk
ISTANBUL
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Robbins Crossover TBM under construction in Ankara
Robbins Crossover TBM under construction in Ankara

As Turkey successively undertakes and completes large-scale infrastructure projects, the tunneling industry chooses Istanbul to meet for the second time at Tunnel Expo 2015, from Aug. 27-29

Held for the first time in 2014, Tunnel Expo Turkey 2015, organized by the Turkish Tunneling Society, brought together the leading businesses in tunneling, boring and underground construction at the industry-specific event held in Istanbul Expo Center located in the Bakırköy district. Around 75 domestic and 125 foreign businesses are expected to take part in the second Tunnel Construction Technologies and Equipments Fair held between Aug. 27 and Aug. 29.

Due to last year's success and attention, the Turkish Miners Association decided to hold Mining Expo Turkey with 112 domestic and 32 foreign participants alongside Tunnel Expo this year due to the parallel nature between the two sectors. Products ranging from automated mining extraction and processing machinery to work safety products and systems, will be displayed in the exp, while combined solutions of the two sectors for more environmentally friendly and safe processes in mining are also on the agenda due to increased public awareness on the issue arising from last year's Soma and Ermenek mining disasters.

Tunnel Expo Turkey is also important as recent experiences of the Turkish tunneling sector in mega projects such as the Marmaray rail line and Eurasia road tunnels crossing under and over the Bosporus, along with high-speed rail and irrigation projects will be shared with foreign visitors mainly coming from the Middle East, Balkans and Europe. Successful bids of Turkish construction companies in the region for large-scale infrastructure projects such as the recent Doha and Mecca subway projects also increase the interest foreign businesses to the expo.

Speaking at the expo, Nuh Bilgin, chairman of the Turkish Tunneling Society, said that Turkey is expected to invest more than $35 billion in tunnel projects over the upcoming years. A recent study by the Society state that there are 106 ongoing road tunnel projects that will increase the total length of tunnels in Turkey's road network from 200 kilometers to 450, with the longest one being the 14.3 kilometer-long Mount Ovit Tunnel, connecting the Black Sea Region with the eastern provinces.


A Robbins TBM used in the construction of Kargı Dam located in the central province of Çorum

More than 1,000 professionals from the sector will also be visiting the expo, while the Turkish Tunneling Society will hold a short course on tunnel-boring machine (TBM) tunneling, classical tunneling (NATM) and underground mining.

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Altay Alpagut, Turkey Marketing Manager of the world's oldest TBM producer The Robbins Company, stated that their sales have grown three-fold in the Turkish market in the last decade. Robbins products are currently being used in important projects such as a 32-kilometer Gerede Tunnel of Ankara Water Supply Project located in central Turkey and the 10 kilometer-long Bahçe-Nurdağı High Speed Rail Twin Tunnels, which will connect southern and southeastern provinces. Meanwhile, Turkey's largest TBM with a diameter of 13.77 meters to be used in Turkey's sprawling high-speed rail network is also under construction in Ankara by Robbins. "This special design known as a Crossover TBM, can effectively work under Turkey's tough geographical conditions and is one of our unique solutions for the Turkish market," Alpagut said. He also said that mining businesses are increasingly aiming to bring TBM'S due to increased work safety concerns in the sector due to risks such as fire, flooding or cave-in.

The increase in investments in urban transport projects, such as the new three-layered combined subway and road tunnel between Istanbul's Hasdal and Ümraniye districts to cross the Bosporus, which was introduced by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as the new project for Istanbul, increases the interest of Robbins in the Turkish market along with many other foreign competitors.

Emphasizing the scope of new projects, Alpagut stated that in September, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality will hold tenders for 12 TBM's to be used in Bostancı - Dudullu and Ataköy - İkitelli subway construction contracts.

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