Work Starts On This New Tunnel Under The Thames Next Year

Work Starts On This New Tunnel Under The Thames Next Year
The Silvertown Tunnel
The Silvertown Tunnel - opening in 2025 according to TfL. Image: TfL

Work starts on a new road tunnel in east London next year — news that will come as a mixed blessing to drivers and local residents.

TfL has announced that the Silvertown Tunnel — a twin-bore underwater road crossing between the Docklands and North Greenwich — should be completed by 2025. The project will be carried out by the 'Riverlinx consortium' — which is now poised to start digging beneath the Thames.

How traffic from the Silvertown Tunnel will merge with that from the existing Blackwall Tunnel. Image: TfL

The right tunnel in the right place?

While it's no secret that London is in dire need of more river crossings in the east, many insist that the Silvertown Tunnel isn't the way to do it. Not least, members of the now defunct No to Silvertown Tunnel group. Ironically, congestion caused by the new tunnel was always one of the bones of contention for campaigners — the other being the potential polluting effects of a new road tunnel.

TfL itself doesn't deny the latter; its own research concluded there may be a "small localised impact" of carbon emissions around both the new Silvertown Tunnel, and the existing Blackwall Tunnel. TfL does, however, say that this increase in emissions will be minimised, and that both tunnels and the surrounding area will fall within the Ultra Low Emission Zone from October 2021 (four years before Silvertown Tunnel's planned opening date).

Not everyone is for the Silvertown Tunnel, but TfL is pushing ahead. Image: TfL

There will be tolls

Sorry drivers: you'll have to fork out to use the Silvertown Tunnel (TfL doesn't know how much this will be yet, but it'll likely be contingent on the type of vehicle) — plus a new toll for the nearby Blackwall Tunnel. This could stoke some ire among those used to accessing it for free.

The good news for public transport users is that new bus routes will run through Silvertown Tunnel, to the tune of 37 an hour during peak periods in each direction. And yep, they will be zero-emission. There's no way the new tunnel's going to please everyone, but now it's happening, the main thing is it's done right.

Last Updated 25 November 2019