The first of two new road tunnels under the Thames has been completed as part of the Silvertown Tunnel.

(c) Riverlinx

The 1.1km long tunnel has been dug from the north to the south, by a giant tunnel boring machine (TMB), named in honour of Jill Viner, the first female bus driver in London.

Aside from a small section around the tunnel entrances, which will be built using a ‘cut and cover’ technique, the two bores that make up the Silvertown Tunnel are being built using one 82 metre-long, 11.9 metre-diameter TBM. The TBM averaged around 18 metres a day during the delivery of the first bore as it worked its way under the river from Newham to Greenwich. The conveyor system, built to remove excavated materials, has helped transport around 275,000 tonnes of spoil from the tunnel via barge as well as spoil from the retrieval chamber of the TBM and other civils work within the Newham site.

Having arrived at Greenwich, the TBM will now be rotated around in pieces within a 40m rotation chamber, before beginning its 1.1km journey back under the river to the Silvertown site in Newham in the coming months. The process will involve sections of the TBM being placed on ‘nitrogen skates’ within the rotation chamber and turned around before boring the second tunnel. This is a highly innovative and complex process, where the individual sections of the TBM, including the 1200tn cutting shield, will be spun 180 degrees inside a shaft and then reassembled and reconfigured to facilitate tunnelling the second bore back to Newham.

Once tunnelling recommences, spoil from the second tunnel will be fed back via the conveyor systems installed within the first tunnel to allow it to also be removed by barge from the Newham site. The second bore is expected to be completed by the end of this summer.

(c) Riverlinx

On either side of the river, the two tunnel portals are progressing, with piling and concrete pores pours for the foundations for the cut and cover sections of the tunnel, as well as the portal entrances now underway.

Once open, the twin-bore 1.4km Silvertown Tunnel will link Newham to the Greenwich Peninsula and provide improved bus links across the Thames.

The tunnel construction is however running late. Originally due to open in early 2025, that was pushed back to around Easter, and is now expected to be around June 2025.

The project is being delivered by the Riverlinx CJV, a joint venture contracted by TfL and Riverlinx comprising of three civil engineering and construction companies: BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Construction and SK ecoplant. The project is being delivered through a design, build, finance, operate and maintain contract, with the vast majority of the funding for the new tunnel coming from private finance which has been specifically raised for the scheme.


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  1. rory McGeown says:

    absolutely amazing work well done to all those involved.

  2. Rob says:

    Just as a matter of interest, where is all the excavated ‘spoil’ being taken and what is it being used for ? Thanks.

  3. Bill S says:

    Hope the spoil is being used to shore up the eroded Norfolk coastline

  4. Kevin says:

    “provide improved bus links across the Thames…”?
    We already know TfL have cut back on the number of new routes that were promised to run through this tunnel, so one of the main arguments for building this tunnel in the first place seems to have been reneged on. I’ve never been too keen on the idea of a new road tunnel that simply dumps a load of traffic into the West Silvertown and Canning Town areas, will be interesting to see how it plays out once it’s opened.

    Having said that, from an engineering perspective this is a fascinating project and I’m always amazed how fast these tunnels can be bored under the Thames, considering how long it took to construct the original Thames tunnel…

  5. Peter Dew says:

    I have been in the construction industry for nearly 50 years. Who has suggested that they couldn’t reprogram so much work to complete on time: an extension of a few months over several years could easily be avoided ?

    • ChrisC says:

      Since you’ve been in construction for so long then I’m sure you’ve come across issues with the supply chain where a delay or issue occurs that can never be caught up on.

      There are only so many tasks that can be rescheduled but many that simply can’t be because they require other deliverables to be completed.

  6. Peter says:

    Thanks to new tunel we all will be charged new fee for both of them. Including blackwall for each crossing £1.5

  7. Chris Rogers says:

    I didn’t know they ever (could) turn TBMs around – they are usually taken apart or abandoned in situ in an overrun.

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