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Silvertown Tunnel

London, United Kingdom

  • Miles of length


    twin-bore road tunnel

  • 2019

    Financial Close

  • £

    Managed Investment

  • 2025-2050

    Concession period

Riverlinx Ltd, a company comprising Cintra, Aberdeen Standard Investments, BAM PPP, Macquarie Capital and SK E&C – entered into a PPP Contract with Transport for London (TfL) to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Silvertown tunnel in East London.

This new tunnel will connect the Greenwich peninsula and the Silvertown district. The contract is worth more than £1 billion (circa €1.4 billion), and design and construction of the project will be delivered by a joint venture with Ferrovial Construction, BAM Nuttall and SK E&C.

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 catchment area of the new Silvertown Tunnel is expected to see a projected population increase of 650,000 people and see an estimated 286,000 new jobs created by 2036.

The new infrastructure will serve as an alternative to the Blackwall Tunnel, improving traffic flows not only under the River Thames but also in the approaches between Docklands / East London and Southeast London. Currently, an estimated one million hours are wasted each year queuing for the Blackwall tunnel. For those people directly affected this has an economic cost of £10 million every year.

There is currently only one cross-river bus link in East London due to lack of suitable crossings. However, the Silvertown project will provide a dedicated bus lane in either direction. As a result, the project will deliver a dramatic increase in cross-Thames bus services in this part of London. The current number of bus crossings of six buses per hour will rise to a minimum of 40 bus crossing per hour.

By significantly reducing local congestion, using access tolls to encourage sustainable transport modes and increasing public transport provision the project will have a significant beneficial impact on local air quality. The contract requires Riverlinx to undertake comprehensive improvements to the existing urban environment either side of the river, enhancing public realm and promoting more walking and cycling.

The commercial and financial close for the project occurred in 2019, after which construction began and with the project running for twenty-five years thereafter. Riverlinx is responsible for the operations and maintenance of the project. TfL will only start paying for the project once the tunnel is operational, limiting their financial exposure on this project.

Setting of toll amounts and collecting the tolls will be the sole responsibility of TfL for London, who will also introduce tolls on the Blackwall Tunnel.

The Construction Stage

The Silvertown Tunnel Project is a 1.4 km twin bore road tunnel which will be built under the River Thames. It follows a similar route to the alignment of the Emirates Air Line cable car and connects Silvertown and Greenwich.

The project has been designed to ease congestion around the Blackwall Tunnel, thus improving the environment and providing improved transport links to the East of the city. 

Only one tunnel boring machine (TBM), with a diameter of approximately 12m, is being used to bore both tunnels through geology including alluvium, London clay and Lambeth. The TBM was launched in Silvertown to bore the first tunnel, rotated in North Greenwich and will return to Silvertown to bore the second tunnel. The project also comprises 600m of access ramps, maintenance buildings and sections of road above the ground including a highway bridge and a footbridge for pedestrians.

Overall the construction team is managing a total excavation of 600,000m3 and 100% of the suitable excavated material will be transported by river, minimising the impact of construction traffic for neighbouring communities and routes.

The works are expected to be completed in 2025 and will be located within the ultra-low Emissions zone. 

The Silvertown Tunnel will bring new opportunities for Ferrovial Construction over the next 5 years of delivery and provide further development for members of our team. This is the 5th tunnelling project that we have been awarded in London since 2008, following Crossrail, Northern Line Extension, Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Heathrow Baggage Transfer Tunnel.

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