Silvertown Tunnel: Work begins on new River Thames crossing

·2-min read

Tunnelling has started for a new river crossing under the Thames in east London.

Transport for London (TfL) announced that a boring machine (TBM) has been launched at Royal Docks to excavate the 1.4km (0.9-mile) Silvertown Tunnel.

Once it has completed the first tunnel by reaching the Greenwich peninsula, it will be turned around and directed back to Royal Docks to create a second one.

Climate protesters have expressed concern about the new crossing's impact on traffic and air pollution.

Silvertown Tunnel is expected to open in 2025 and will be used by cars, vans, lorries and buses.

TfL said this will reduce congestion at Blackwall Tunnel.

Charges will be introduced for using both tunnels once Silvertown Tunnel opens.

TfL's head of the Silvertown Tunnel programme, Helen Wright, said: "The start of tunnelling is a huge step forward for this project and we are committed to working hard to ensure that it is delivered with minimal impact to Londoners.

"As well as reducing congestion and providing better cross-river bus opportunities, the new tunnel will also help deliver a wide range of local improvements, including dedicated walking and cycling infrastructure and new landscaping.

"We are working actively on these designs and we hope we can share these with local residents and stakeholders shortly, ahead of starting work on them within the next year."

The project is being delivered by the Riverlinx consortium, which is made up of private financial companies.

It has secured £1.2bn of private finance to build, operate and maintain the tunnel.

TfL's accounts indicate that the transport body's total repayments over a 25-year period could exceed £2bn.

The tunnel boring machine is 82m-long (269ft) and its cutter face has a diameter of 11.9m (39ft).

Nearly 600,000 tonnes of material will be excavated during the project.

This will be removed via barges on the Thames to minimise construction traffic on local roads and sent to a former landfill site in Essex as part of a restoration scheme.