Lower Thames Crossing bidders start dialogue

27 April 2022

National Highways has invited the three shortlisted bidders for the £2.3bn Lower Thames Crossing tunnelling contract to participate in “dialogue” on how to deliver the scheme.

The contract for the twin-bored tunnel and its approach roads will almost double road capacity across the River Thames east of London. At a length of 4.3km it will be the longest UK road tunnel and with a diameter of over 16m, the widest tunnel in Europe. More than 80 per cent of the route crossing will be below ground or behind landscaped embankments. A tunnel was chosen rather than a bridge to reduce the environmental impact on sensitive ecological landscapes such as the Thames Estuary and Marshes.

National Highways says the competitive dialogue approach has been adopted in a bid to find innovative solutions for the highly complex project. In February it was designated a carbon pathfinder project, meaning it will explore ways to achieve carbon neutral construction. The dialogue aims to deliver solutions that meet the challenging ambitions for the programme, such as exploring carbon neutral construction. The process will allow dialogue between National Highways and the bidders, and is designed to be collaborative in its approach.

The three shortlisted bidders for the tunnels contract are:

  • BFV JV; comprising BAM Nuttall Ltd, Ferrovial Construction (UK) Ltd and Vinci Construction Grands Projets
  • Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV); comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons Ltd
  • Dragados-Hochtief Joint Venture (DH JV); comprising Dragados SA and Hochtief Infrastructure Gmbh

The scheme’s three main works contracts – Kent Roads, Roads North of the Thames and Tunnels and Approaches – will include a low-carbon baseline to incentivise carbon reduction throughout the project life cycle. The contracts will also focus on the use of local suppliers and SMEs as well as focusing on local community benefits through the creation of jobs, apprenticeships and new skills.

All three works contracts are expected to be awarded in summer 2023.