TfL finally signs £1bn Silvertown Tunnel contract
25 Nov, 2019 By Rob Horgan
Transport for London (TfL) has finally awarded its £1bn contract to design, build, finance and maintain the Silvertown Tunnel.
The Riverlinx consortium (consisting of Ferrovial subsidiary Cintra, Bam PPP PGGM, Macquarie Capital and SK E+C) has officially been awarded the contract, following months of legal wrangling with TfL and losing bidder Silver Thames Connect (STC).
STC submitted a Part 7 Claim to the Technology & Construction court after Riverlinx was named preferred bidder for the contract in May. A Part 7 Claim relates to procurement and automatically results in a legal suspension of the defendant’s right to award a contract.
While the court order was lifted in October, STC (comprising Hochtieff, Dragados and Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras) is still pursuing damages for what it claims was a “flawed” and “manifestly erroneous” procurement process.
In its official defence, TfL denies the allegations that it disregarded its duties in relation to running a fair procurement process.
Environmental concerns presented by Extinction Rebellion, local councillors and mayoral candidates have also blighted the project in recent months.
However, in its official announcement TfL has stressed that environmental concerns are being considered during the construction programme.
“During construction, both the consortium and TfL are committed to ensuring that the majority of construction material is transported by river, that all on-site construction machinery meets the Mayor’s Non-Road Mobile Machinery Low Emission Zone Standards, and that any vehicles working on the scheme are Euro VI and comply with the Mayor’s Direct Vision Standard,” a TfL spokesperson said.
“TfL is also legally committed, as part of the wider DCO process, to deliver a wide range of improvements and measures to reduce the impact of the new tunnel and support the wider local area.”
Construction is set to be completed in 2025. Payments from TfL to the consortium will only start 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.
The design includes a 1.4-kilometre twin-bore road tunnel under the River Thames as well as 0.6-kilometres of access ramps.
It will connect south of the River Thames with the access to the existing Blackwall Tunnel and north of the River Thames with the Tidal Basin Roundabout, in Silvertown, easing traffic congestion in this key London location.
The tunnel will also be located within the extended Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which from October 2021 will mean any vehicles not meeting strict emission standards will have to pay an additional ULEZ charge to TfL to use the tunnel once it’s open.
Tolls will be used to help manage demand and fund the scheme.
Current plans show two 11.45m internal diameter bores, each approximately 1km long, with two traffic lanes per bore and connecting cross-passages. Cut and cover approaches at Greenwich and Silvertown are also planned to be approximately 200m long.