Six tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are being used to construct London’s £4bn supersewer by three teams of contractors. At 25km long, up to 66 metres deep and more than seven metres in diameter, the Thames Tideway tunnel will be the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.
The first TBM, Rachel, reached London by boat on 27th November 2017. Components of the second and third, Millicent and Ursula, sailed up the Thames yesterday.
They were made by NFM Technologies in Le Creusot, France, and shipped via Hamburg. Weighing more than 1300 tonnes each, Millicent and Ursula are the project’s largest TBMs. When fully assembled, they will be 8.8 metres in diameter and more than 100 metres long.
To make the journey from France the machines had to be dismantled and are arriving in several parts over the coming weeks. They will be reassembled at Tideway’s Kirtling Street site in Battersea, close to Battersea Power Station
Tideway chief executive Andy Mitchell said: “The arrival of Tideway’s second and third TBMs is another exciting milestone, signalling that work is gearing up on London’s super sewer. 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.
“It is particularly fitting that we are delivering Millicent during the centenary of the right to vote for women in 1918.”
This is because Millicent was named after Dame Millicent Fawcett, an English suffragist, who is soon to be the first woman to be commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square.
Ursula was named after Audrey ‘Ursula’ Smith, a British cryobiologist at King’s College Hospital in South London who discovered the use of glycerol to protect human red blood cells during freezing.
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.
Main contractors on the project are:
- BMB JV (BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty) for the West contract
- FLO JV (Ferrovial Agroman UK, Laing O’Rourke Construction) for the Central contract
- CVB JV (Costain, Vinci Construction Grands Projects and Bachy Soletanche) for the East contract.