Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed the Riverlinx consortium as the nominated preferred bidder to build the Silvertown Tunnel - a new river crossing under the Thames in east London.
The tunnel, which is set to be open in 2025, will link the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks together and effectively eliminate the serious congestion and reduce the associated environmental impacts caused by miles of standing traffic around the Blackwall Tunnel area. It aims to remove barriers for people in east London needing to cross the river for work or leisure, as well as improve the reliability and resilience of the road network for local residents, commuters and businesses.
It is also the first permanent road crossing to be constructed across the River Thames east of Tower Bridge since the QE2 Bridge at Dartford opened in October 1991. The Blackwall Tunnel is said to be the least reliable of London's crossings and was closed more than 700 times in 2017/18. The lack of alternative crossings east of Tower Bridge has resulted in almost constant congestion and the approach roads having some of the highest levels of air pollution in London. The tunnel will also aim to significantly improve cross-river public transport connections, with around 37 buses an hour in each direction using the tunnel, including the current six single-decker buses per hour which run through the Blackwall Tunnel. All of the new double-decker buses that use the Silvertown Tunnel are expected to be zero-emission from launch. These routes will link places such as Stratford and Canary Wharf to Eltham, Grove Park and Charlton for the first time, unlocking new journey options and supporting wider regeneration across the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks. Across London, 75 per cent of buses are already Euro VI emission standard or higher, and from 2020, all new single-deck buses will be zero-emission from 2020. The entire fleet of around 9,000 buses will be zero-emission by 2037 at the latest. Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at TfL said: “The need for more river crossings in East London, to unlock growth and give residents and businesses better access to jobs and services, has been clear for decades. The Silvertown Tunnel, which is vital to support London's economy, has been designed to resolve the existing congestion problem around Blackwall, improve overall air quality and enable new cross-river bus routes to be introduced. “We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the project is delivered with minimal impact to local residents. We will closely monitor noise and air quality during construction and traffic levels and emissions once the tunnel is complete.”