ABB technology central to major Indian infrastructure project

ABB contributes to critical road tunnel creating improved mobility and safety, and increasing economic activity while protecting the environment.

A road trip on India’s National Highway 44 connecting Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s northern most state to the rest of the country, was always unpredictable. Situated 1,200 meters, above sea level, in the foothills of the Himalayan range that stands guard at the northern frontiers of the country, this highway would often face landslides, snowfall and avalanches, especially during the winter season. As recently as last month, several avalanches hit near the Udhampur district leading to fatal accidents and causing a major blockade on the highway, with over a thousand vehicles getting caught in a kilometers-long backup.

To improve mobility and safety, the region recently opened the longest highway tunnel in Asia, a four-lane road link, with a bi-directional all-weather tunnel running 10.89 km long. This milestone infrastructure utilizing state-of-the art technology from ABB and connects the Chenani and Nashri towns, reducing the travel distance between Jammu and Srinagar by over 30 km and reducing the travel time by two hours for thousands of commuters between the capitals. In addition to boosting economic activity and tourism in the state, the reduced traffic on the area bypassed with the tunnel will help preserve the ecology of the environmentally sensitive region. Officials also estimate that more than $40,000 of fuel will be saved per day.

Inside Asia's longest highway tunnel, which was officially opened on April 2, 2017
Inside Asia's longest highway tunnel, which was officially opened on April 2, 2017

The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is India’s first and the world’s sixth road tunnel with a transverse ventilation system enabled by ABB drives and motors. For such long tunnels ventilation systems are essential to maintain clean air, permissible carbon dioxide levels and expel harmful vehicle emissions. A transversal ventilation uses separate air ducts to introduce fresh air inside the tunnel and remove the harmful air.

ABB high power drives and motors run the ventilation system, which acts as the lungs of the tunnel, exchanging the air within. The ventilation system uses an ABB low harmonics variable speed drive (VSD) system, with VSDs and motors installed at the North (Nashri) and South (Chenani) portals for air supply and exhaust. These VSDs are also equipped with inbuilt redundancy to ensure minimum downtime. The ventilation system also meets the tunnel’s high safety requirements and ensures an energy efficient operation.

The state-of-the art design of the tunnel includes a parallel escape tunnel apart from the main tube and special features such as an integrated traffic control system, fire detection and management, and wireless communication. The system’s safety software from ABB includes a unique override control feature to mitigate any fire emergencies.

“This is a proud moment for us,” said Sanjeev Sharma, CEO and Managing Director, ABB India. “We are providing the muscles and lungs for this critical new tunnel.”

ABB’s technology sits at the heart of some of the world’s most complex and advanced infrastructure. ABB built the world’s most powerful ventilation system for the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, which opened to the public in December 2016. It is the world’s longest (57 kilometres) and deepest (8,000 feet maximum depth) train tunnel. From measuring devices in London Tower Bridge to the London Underground to the Statue of Liberty and Burj Khalifa, ABB’s technologies have been a part of landmark projects around the world. These projects not only improve transportation affecting the lives of people, but have become icons of development, creating an equilibrium of man, machine and nature for sustainability.

ABB has been present in India for more than a century, partnering and contributing to critical infrastructure projects throughout the country. Most recently ABB announced it will deliver a transmission link that will have the capacity to bring reliable electricity to more than 80 million people in the country. The Raigarh-Pugalur 800 kilovolt (kV) ultra-high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) system will connect Raigarh in Central India to Pugalur in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Additionally, ABB has been able to support the country’s clean energy vision and push for solar power by providing the electrification and automation systems for the Adani solar project, the world’s largest solar plant in a single location, built in Kamuthi, in southern India.


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