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Exclusive | Tideway super sewer tunnelling now set for November start

thames tideway tbm

The start of tunnelling on “London’s super sewer” has been moved until next month, New Civil Engineer can reveal.   

With two tunnel boring machines lowered into position in June, New Civil Engineer understands that tunnelling on Tideway’s central section was scheduled for an October start.  

Two senior sources had previously indicated that work was due to start in October, however Tideway’s official line has always maintained that works were due to take place “before the end of the year”. Tideway project geotechnical engineer Tim Newman had also previously told New Civil Engineer’s sister title Ground Engineering that the first tunnel boring machine would be launched in October.

A spokesperson for Tideway confimed that the project’s 2024 completion date remains unaffected and that works were always scheduled to take place “before the end of the year”.

Tideway’s deputy delivery manager (central) John Gullick has now confirmed to New Civil Engineer that work will begin in November. 

“Here in the central section we are hoping to start our tunnelling operations very soon,” Gullick said. “We have had our first two gantries lowered into position over the last week or so and we’re hoping to start tunnelling towards the end of November this year.

“The second machine will be launched soon after that, while in the west of the project we are looking towards next summer and in the east the final tunnel boring machine will be launched towards the back end of 2019.”

Tideway last year began assembling two tunnel boring machines, named Millicent and Ursula, on site at Kirtling Street. Millicent, named after suffragist Millicent Fawcett, had been planned for launch this month.

Of the two tunnel boring machines that are set to be used at Kirtling Street, one will travel 5km west to Carnwath Road while the other will travel 7.6km east to Chambers Wharf.

Construction on the Tideway project is being carried out to improve water quality in the River Thames by relieving pressure on London’s aging sewer system.

Tideway has also claimed that the project will bring thousands of jobs, a rejuvenated river economy and completely new areas of public space.

Last year, Tideway chief executive Andy Mitchell spoke to New Civil Engineer about the project and why it is pushing boundaries in the construction industry.

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