FLO and Ursula complete Tideway’s central tunnel

The breakthough into Chambers Wharf

Tunnelling boring machine (TBM) Ursula, working for main contractor Ferrovial Laing O’Rourke Joint Venture (FLO), completed her 7.6km journey from Battersea to Bermondsey.

The TBM broke through on Monday into a deep shaft at Tideway’s Chambers Wharf site.

Mark Sneesby, chief operating officer of client organisation Tideway, said: “This is an important day for everyone on the Tideway project, as well as for Londoners and the River Thames. With around four fifths of the tunnelling now complete, everyone on Tideway is focussed on getting this job done safely and delivering a cleaner Thames for the city.”

TBM Ursula’s breakthrough now means that more than 19km of the Thames Tideway tunnel has been completed, with work on the remaining 5.5km section due to start soon.

Viv Jones, Project Director for the central section, said: “The hard work from our teams on site and below ground has enabled us to safely continue tunnelling despite Covid – and continue work on this vital piece of infrastructure.

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“Ferrovial and Laing O’Rourke, the contractors on the central section, have done a fantastic job, and I thank the teams involved for their efforts to clean up London’s iconic river.”

During the drive, TBM Ursula excavated more than one million tonnes of spoil, all of which was removed from site using Thames barges – preventing more than 250,000 HGV road trips.

Around 240 barges were also used to transport concrete tunnel lining segments to site. This central section of tunnel is formed of 4,227 rings.

Tim Newman, Tideway’s Project Geologist, added: “TBM Ursula has tunnelled at incredible depths, encountering a real mix of geology – through clay, sand, gravel and chalk. The expertise required for such a task is immense and allowed us to quickly and safely adapt the tools on the cutterhead as needed.”

TBM Ursula will remain in place at the bottom of the shaft while the team at Chambers Wharf prepares to launch TBM Selina, which will create the final and easternmost section of the super sewer. Contractor on the eastern section is a joint venture of Costain, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche.

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