Arup & Atkins JV wins Thames Tideway Tunnel contract

21 January 2016 3 min. read

To relieve the Thames river ecosystem of damaging raw sewage, and meet EU regulations, London is set to receive a major upgrade to its sewage system. The Thames Tideway scheme will provide a 25-km system aimed at reducing sewage overflows. As part of the construction of the system, BMB, the deliverer of the West section of the tunnel, appointed Arup and Atkins as joint partners to its team working on the 6-km section between Acton and Wandsworth, valued at £416 million.

The original London sewerage system was constructed between 1859 and 1865. The system captures both rainwater run-off and the sewage, and was originally designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette to service 4 million people. Part of the system provided a failsafe to prevent sewage backing up and flooding people’s homes, allowing the system to overflow into the River Thames via 57 combined sewer overflows (CSO) along the banks of the river.

In the intervening more than 150 years, London has expanded significantly and, while additional systems have been added in the meantime, the system installed by Bazalgette, no longer meets the requirements of the population, overflows now occur on average 50 times a year, with the spills violating the EU’s Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD).

Arup & Atkins venture Thames Tideway Tunnel contract

To improve the Thames’ ecosystem by reducing the waste dumped into the river system, the UK Government approved the plans for the Thames Tideway scheme, a 25 km tunnel running mostly under the River Thames through central London. The system runs from Acton in the west of London through to Abbey Mills in the east, the captured sewage will then be transferred to Beckton Sewage Treatment Works. The Thames Tideway Tunnel is set for completion by the end of 2022, and is the UK water industry’s largest project to date.

BMB* has been appointed to deliver the West section tunnel, which is a six-kilometre section that will run from Acton in West London to Wandsworth in South West London incorporating seven separate work sites along the route. To assist it with the £416 million scheme, BMB hired a joint venture between engineering and design consultancies Arup and Atkins. The team will provide design, construction, commissioning and maintenance following construction completion.

Map of the tunnel route

“A healthy River Thames plays an essential role in the wellbeing and prosperity of the City of London and its people. The Thames Tideway Tunnel will help transform the river and we are very pleased that BMB chose the valuable experience, expertise and approach we’ve developed with Arup from projects such as Crossrail,” comments Nick Roberts, UK CEO at Atkins. “We look forward to playing our part in promoting a positive change in the relationship that Londoners and visitors have with the Thames.”

Alan Belfield, UKMEA Chairman of Arup, adds: “The Thames Tideway Tunnel is one of the UK’s most challenging, yet important, infrastructure projects. We have already made great strides in creating a cleaner and safer River Thames but there is a clear need to modernise our essential infrastructure. Partnerships such as ours with Atkins will play a pivotal role in driving forward these major feats of engineering and we look forward to working together on this extraordinary project to see the benefits it will provide to the city.”