Delivering safe and efficient infrastructure for Thames Tideway

The Thames Tideway project is safer and more efficient thanks to the use of the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) across its transport supply chain.

Thames Tideway Tunnel, the multibillion pound infrastructure project building a new super sewer for London, specifies that all of its road transport contractors must be FORS accredited. The project seeks to ‘Reconnect London with the River Thames’ using the river to transport the bulk of the material extracted and to deliver aggregates and tunnel segments. When the application for development consent was being prepared, FORS was built into its construction code of practice, making FORS accreditation a contractual requirement for all Tideway road transport operators.

Below, GORDON SUTHERLAND, traffic and road logistics manager for Tideway explains why FORS has been crucial in helping to mitigate the risk to safety and efficiency across the Tideway road transport supply chain.

Can you explain your relationship with FORS?

Tideway began working with FORS at the very early stages of the project. We chose FORS as it is the nationally recognised accreditation scheme which focuses on safety and efficiency to help ensure high standards across our road transport supply chain.

Our commitment is to mitigate the risk to all vulnerable road users working on and using roads around this project’s worksites and when travelling in the wider road network. We are building in a densely populated area, where there are also many other construction projects taking place, so even using the river, there remains a significant residual risk to road use associated with delivering goods or collecting excavated material to and from our sites. FORS is a tool that we feel helps manage this.

When we were creating the code of construction practice for Tideway in 2012, we wrote FORS as a requirement into our application for development consent. This was then sent to the Planning Inspectorate, discussed at their hearings and when approved, transferred into our works information and included in tenders.

Why did Thames Tideway choose to Specify FORS?

Even using the river barges, Tideway still has around 2,000 vehicle movements a week, ranging from vans up to large abnormal loads. Most are rigid HGVs, mostly tippers and mixers but also artic lorries bringing in steel and other materials which can’t be brought in by barge, so we need to ensure the safety and efficiency of all these vehicles.


"FORS offers a clear route to safety and efficiency," says Tideway's Gordon Sutherland (pictured above) 

Involvement with FORS must come from the top and be written into tender documentation. Once you decide to write FORS into tenders, you can choose which level of FORS is practical to meet the standards you require. Be sure to make these requirements clear, as tenderers need to be in no doubt about what you want. 

When our development consent order was granted, it became a contractual and legal requirement for all road transport operators servicing the project to be FORS Bronze accredited before they could start work on this project. Operators must also then progress to FORS Silver within six months of their first site access date. 

Would you recommend specifiers chose FORS?

If you are responsible for a supply chain, FORS offers a clear route to safety and efficiency, which is applicable to all types of commercial vehicles, and I would certainly recommend it. We get updated information direct from the FORS team, who let us know if there has been a breach of the FORS standard by a member, with real time information on any breaches which may affect our supply chain in order that we can take appropriate action. This is backed up with support from the FORS specifiers microsite, online guides and the specifier briefings we can attend.

Ultimately, FORS gives us confidence in our supply chain.  We know the vehicles and drivers coming onto our sites all meet a good standard and are all continuously striving to be even better. For anyone managing a road transport supply chain or looking for a route to ensuring high safety and efficient standards such as on Thames Tideway, FORS provides the answer.

If you would like to contact Andy Walker about this, or any other story, please email awalker@infrastructure-intelligence.com.