Shortlist announced for major UK tunnelling project

By Mike Hayes09 April 2021

Highways England reveals unveils three groups vying to build Lower Thames Crossing tunnels

Impression of the Lower Thames Crossing tunnel entry

Highways England has announced the groups shortlisted for the contract to build twin 4.2km tunnels under the River Thames, to the east of London, UK.

Three groups, including some of Europe’s largest contractors, will vie for the project to build the longest road tunnels in the UK, with a total value of around €6.9 billion.

The shortlisted groups are:

  • BFV JV; comprising BAM Nuttal Ltd, Ferrovial Construction (UK) Ltd and VINCI Construction Grands Projets, supported by Atkins Ltd, Tecnica y Proyectos SA (TYPSA) and Stantec UK Limited
  • Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV); comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A.S. and J Murphy & Sons Ltd, supported by Mott McDonald Ltd and Ove Arup and Partners Ltd
  • Dragados-Hochtief Joint Venture (DH JV); comprising Dragados S.A. and HOCHTIEF Infrastructure Gmbh

With a width of 16m the twin tunnels will be some of the largest bored tunnels in the world, and the scope of work for the winning bidder will include the construction of portal buildings and the north and south approach roads, each stretching to approximately 1km.

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing Executive Director, said, “The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed 35 years ago. This contract shows our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.

“This contract is unparalleled in its ambition, and we need the right partner to match that ambition. We look forward to entering into competitive dialogue with the three shortlisted companies and hope the final bids match our aspirations.”

As was the case with the connecting roads contracts on the project, which went out to tender earlier this month, the work is yet to receive a Development Consent Order from the UK government.

Highways England – which is the government-run company responsible for operating and maintaining all of England’s motorways and major A roads – has said that construction work could begin on the Lower Thames Crossing as early as the first half of 2022, and has already contracted the US engineering firm Jacobs to oversee the development of the project.

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