Video: Take a look at the progress being made on London’s £4.2bn super sewer

Work continues to accelerate on the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry as significant milestones in 2018 continue to be reached.

The £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel project which will see a 25km sewer constructed and installed to tackle sewage pollution in the tidal River Thames has seen tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) arrive on site and preparations commence on digging the tunnel shaft in the last two months. 

The TBMs, named Millicent and Ursula, will weigh more than 1,300 tonnes each and measure more than 100m long when fully assembled. The first shipment made the 500-mile journey at the start of February from the across the Channel after being built in Le Creusot, France.

The machines had to be dismantled before being shipped and will continue to arrive in several parts and be reassembled at Tideway’s Kirtling Street site in Battersea, close to Battersea power station.

The TBMs were transported along the Thames in order to keep in line with Tideway’s commitment to transport over 90% of materials by river which will reduce the number of road vehicle journeys needed to build the tunnel. Millicent will tunnel 5km from Kirtling Street to Carnwath Road in Fulham while Ursula will tunnel 7.6km from Kirtling Street to Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey.

Andy Mitchell, Tideway’s chief executive officer, said: “This is going to be a big year for Tideway and we’re working hard to get tunnel shafts completed in preparation for the start of tunnelling later this year. The arrival of Tideway’s second and third TBMs is another exciting milestone, signalling that work is gearing up on London’s super sewer.”

More recently though, diaphragm walling has started at the Greenwich pumping station construction site in preparation for digging the tunnel shaft which will be constructed from the Greenwich through to Tideway’s Chambers Wharf site.

The concrete structure diaphragm wall will be inserted into the ground and will maintain an excavation open, which is described as an essential element of digging a tunnel shift.

Commenting on the walling, Jim Avant, Tideway’s delivery manager, said: “This has taken more than a year of planning and really hard work by the team. It’s a huge milestone for the site and we’re excited to get started on the next stage of construction.”

It marks an important year for the major project with more milestone ahead like the construction of an acoustic enclosure close to the DLR in order to minimise noise disruption for businesses and commuters nearby. Tunnelling is projected for some point before the end of the year and will inevitably prove to a very significant point in the Thames Tideway scheme.

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