The new 1.4km twin-bore tunnel is being built to relieve traffic congestion in east London and improve reliability at the existing Blackwall Tunnel by providing an alternative river crossing route between the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula. Tolls will be charged on both the new crossing and the Blackwall Tunnel to cover construction and maintenance costs. Prices will be decided closer to the opening date, TfL said.
Work on the Silvertown Tunnel will begin later this year, with the tunnel expected to open in 2025. It will be the first permanent road crossing to be constructed across the River Thames east of Tower Bridge since the QE2 Bridge at Dartford opened in October 1991.
Transport for London (TfL) has today confirmed that the Riverlinx consortium – comprising of Aberdeen Standard Investments, BAM PPP PGGM, Cintra, Macquarie Capital and the Korean contractor SK Engineering & Construction (SK E&C) – has been nominated as the preferred bidder. BAM, Cintra and Macquarie add respectively a Dutch, Spanish and Australian flavour to the international mix. Cintra is owned by Ferrovial.
A consortium led by Hochtief PPP Solutions was also in the final run-off for the contract.
The project will be procured through a design, build, finance and maintain contract, with payments by TfL starting only once the tunnel is open and available for use. TfL will also be able to reduce payments should the tunnel not meet certain key standards, such as availability for use by traffic and physical condition.
Design and construction of the project will be delivered by a consortium of BAM Nuttall (including German sister company Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau providing specialist tunnel engineering expertise), Ferrovial Agroman and SK E&C.
TfL said that funding the project this way not only shifts financial risks onto the private sector consortium but also incentivises it to deliver the scheme efficiently.
Throughout the summer, the consortium will work to confirm financial arrangements with lenders in respect to the project and set up the supply chain. Only once these are all agreed will TfL award them the contract for the project. The exact charge levels for various types of vehicles using the tunnel will be decided closer to the opening date.
The new road tunnel will pass under the River Thames between Silvertown and north Greenwich, in London, connecting to the A1020 Silvertown Way/Lower Lea Crossing on the north side with A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach on the south side. The tunnel generally follows the alignment of the Emirates Airline cable car.
Tfl director of city planning Alex Williams said: “The need for more river crossings in East London, to unlock growth and give residents and businesses better access to jobs and services, has been clear for decades. The Silvertown Tunnel, which is vital to support London's economy, has been designed to resolve the existing congestion problem around Blackwall, improve overall air quality and enable new cross-river bus routes to be introduced.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the project is delivered with minimal impact to local residents. We will closely monitor noise and air quality during construction and traffic levels and emissions once the tunnel is complete.”