A cleaner Thames is in sight as London’s ‘super sewer’ reaches halfway point – MyLondon



If there’s one word we wouldn’t often use to describe the place where nasty human waste is sent to, it’s the word ‘super’.

But if not super in smell, London’s new sewer system will certainly be super in size – due to stretch a total of over 25km in length.

Three years after construction began, tunnellers have just passed the halfway mark, boring more than 13km of the officially titled Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Blackfriars Bridge Foreshore shaft excavation (Image: Tideway)

The work of four huge digging machines means the tunnel now stretches as far west as Fulham. Eastwards, it has reached Blackfriars in the City of London.

The structure passes under 13 bridges, including Westminster Bridge, Albert Bridge, and Waterloo Bridge.

To give some context to the colossal size of this project – if the tunnel was a straight line, it would now be long enough to run the distance from Wembley Stadium in West London, to the London Eye in Central London. And that’s only half of it.

To be fair, that is pretty super.

The first tunnel breakthrough in the project (Image: Tideway)

Currently, 39 million tonnes of raw sewage is pumped into the River Thames each year because of London’s outdated sewer system.

Built in the 1860s, the existing infrastructure works just fine, but cannot keep up with London’s growing population.

This led to the birth of the super sewer project: a system of huge pipes underneath London which will modernise the capital’s sewage system and make the river cleaner. The £4.2 billion project will also see seven new areas of public space created along the embankment of the Thames.

This year, two more tunnelling machines are due to start work in East London, creating the eastern section of the main tunnel from Bermondsey to Newham, and a slightly smaller 4km connection tunnel in Greenwich. A 1km connection tunnel is also being constructed in Wandsworth.

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Andy Mitchell, Tideway CEO, said he is “incredibly proud” that they have reached the halfway mark on the super sewer, after more than three years of “exceptional work”.

The CEO said: “There’s still a way to go but reaching this point on schedule is testament to the success of the team, who have achieved a huge number of engineering feats – including tunnelling under the river through a variety of ground conditions, building new pieces of land in the Thames to work in and digging giant shafts up to 50m deep below London.”

Concrete segments enterting from the shaft (Image: Tideway)

Currently, tunnelling is predicted to be completed in 2022, allowing two years of commissioning before the Thames Tideway Tunnel is due to open in March 2024.

Whenever this project is complete, it’s certainly set to be super…