Express Rail Link West Kowloon terminus building

To symbolise the growing relationship between Hong Kong and China, the world’s largest rail network is being built to connect Hong Kong and Beijing. Contractors have made extensive use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) throughout the project's lifecycle.

Proposed new station design
Proposed new station design

The project

The MTR Corporation awarded the HK$8.9 billion final Express Rail Link civil contract to construct the West Kowloon Terminus Station North for the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).

Commencing in October 2011 and scheduled for completion in 2015, the project forms part of China's strategic High-Speed Railway Network. It will provide a world-class rail terminus and serve as an international gateway to China. Facilities include:

  • Nine long-haul and six shuttle platforms
  • Customs and immigration facilities
  • Departure lounges
  • Duty free and other retail outlets

A key element of the station will be a dramatic steel and glass roof structure. This should become a prominent feature of the Kowloon skyline. The station will also connect to others in close by via a series of pedestrian bridges and underpasses. These include Austin Station, Kowloon Station and Airport Express.

Contribution of a Virtual Design and Construction (VDM) / Building Information Modelling (BIM) solution

Gammon are making extensive use of BIM during the construction of the West Kowloon Terminus. The BIM model was first deployed for modelling the Terminus structure. Ahead of construction, the model helped identify spatial clashes and construction co-ordination issues. Its uses have since expanded through collaboration with the project teams within MTR Corporation and Gammon. The project team plans to leave a legacy in the form of an 'as built' model as well as the usual as built drawings to the terminus operator.

De-risking the structure

Due to complex geometry, designers made use of 3D modelling during the project's early stages. The roof structure, including its curtain wall and cladding were particularly reliant on modelling. As the project neared construction, there were discussions within the MTR Corporation project team about the potential application of BIM to model the entire design of the terminus.

It is a challenging construction process for the whole project with multiple interfaces of many disciplines. BIM was used to interrogate the designs – with the intention of ensuring delivery of a robust design for Gammon to use. De-risking the structure and ensuring it was coordinated allowed Gammon to start to build using the 2D construction drawings with minimal delays due to coordination or clash issues.

The MTR Corporation team also decided the right way to proceed would be to own and manage the development of the BIM model. They would start with civil and architectural aspects before progressing to incorporating building services. The team would also allow for provision for updating the model during the life cycle of the project. This would make the model useful for operation and maintenance.

After reviewing other projects that have used BIM, assessing BIM consultant's capabilities and resources, and issuing a competitive tender for a BIM consultancy, the MTR appointed a preferred BIM consultant. To begin with, the main goal was for them to take 2D drawings, and model what the contractors would build.

Communication tool

While creating the terminus in virtual reality, the Gammon team worked with MTR and designers to provide solutions to construction issues through 3D visualisation of the design. This ensured the early resolution of issues that could have arisen during construction. The model is also used for communication with the Gammon team and other stakeholders.

Effective use of simulation

Use of simulation software allowed people without detailed knowledge of BIM to understand design and construction in the 3D world.

The software has helped staff develop new skill sets and see what the technology can help achieve. This has the effect of helping to discover new ways to apply its use. The BIM model has also helped address various maintenance issues. For example, a walk through showed maintenance staff how access doors in the roof will allow access to Building Services within the roof space.

Enhanced by BIM

The terminus BIM model began with a small core of people within the MTR Corporation project team. It has since grown and continues growing with the Gammon team.

Gammon use the model in their construction planning and provide their staff with 3D previews of the constructions works, development of method statements and to enhance understanding of construction safety issues that may arise. There are possibilities for them to look at the models in 4D – including time, and perhaps to use BIM in assessing quantities. This is helping to minimise wastage and enhance productivity.

As well as minimising clashes and abortive works, the BIM project has provided other benefits. It is providing on-the job training in 3D technology for staff across the project team. It has also offered encouragement to MTR Corporation in expanding its deployment of BIM.

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