We're building a tunnel under the Thames linking Silvertown to the Greenwich Peninsula in east London. The tunnel - which we plan to open in 2025 - will help reduce chronic congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and allow for better public transport links, including more cross-river bus journeys.
This new 1.4km twin-bore road tunnel under the Thames will be the first in London in over 30 years. A modern tunnel combined with a user charge and improved cross-river public transport will improve the reliability and resilience of the wider road network.
Our plans also include improvements for walking, cycling and the areas near the tunnel entrances as part of major regeneration of both sides of the river.
Incidents with larger, unsuitable vehicles frequently cause delays and closures of the Victorian-built Blackwall Tunnel. Idling traffic builds up, often leading to tailbacks of several miles in just a few minutes. This increases journey times as drivers choose longer routes to avoid the tunnel.
The Silvertown Tunnel scheme has been built to reduce this chronic congestion experienced in east London today, improve journey times and keep traffic moving efficiently.
Benefits of the scheme
When it opens in 2025 the Silvertown Tunnel will help:
Reduce delays and queues at the Blackwall Tunnel, with journey times up to 20 minutes faster
Reduce the environmental impact of traffic congestion on some of London's most polluted roads
Provide more opportunities to cross the river by public transport with a network of zero-emission buses offering new routes and better access to more destinations
Our short film explains why the Silvertown Tunnel scheme is needed.
Watch our 'drive through' film to see how the new tunnel would link to the existing road network.
How we're doing it
RiverLinx consortium won the bid to design, build, finance and maintain the Silvertown Tunnel after a competitive procurement process. The consortium is made up of abrdn, Invesis, Cintra, Macquarie Capital and ecoplant.
In July 2023, 'Jill' the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) completed work on the second bore of the Silvertown Tunnel. It means that all main tunnelling work on the new river crossing was delivered in under a year
The spoil from the second tunnel was conveyed through the first bored tunnel to Newham, where over 780,000 tonnes were removed by barge
Significant progress continues on both sides of the river to develop the two tunnel portal buildings
Construction of the Portal Building and Service Buildings on the north side of the Thames has progressed, with waterproofing and post excavation works well developed
Construction of the Portal Building on the south side of the Thames in Greenwich is well underway. Excavation of the South Portal entrance is in progress
We've installed a new walking and cycling bridge across the A102. This bridge - with an improved lighting system and modern design standards - replaces the earlier 1960s footbridge
The new walking and cycling bridge opened for use in June 2023, ahead of the removal of the existing bridge. A temporary ramp to the new bridge across the A102 is available for cyclists and pedestrians, including those using mobility aids, until the new permanent ramp is installed
We're also working on:
With the main tunnelling work completed, we're now excavating the eight cross-passages. These will run between the tunnels and help offer a safe route out of the tunnel
By the end of 2023, the main road surface within the tunnel will start to be installed. This will allow for testing and final fitout of the tunnel systems to begin
Work on the 'cut and cover' sections of the Silvertown tunnel, including portal entrances, is being delivered. As well as the new road layout into the Tidal Basin roundabout in Newham, and link roads into the A2 south of the Blackwall Tunnel
A temporary bridge has been installed on Millennium Way. This allows the excavation of the 'cut and cover' section to continue beneath it
The designs for the walking, cycling and landscaping improvements - these will be delivered around either side of the tunnel entrances
Developing proposals for a new cross-river cycling facility as part of the 2025 Silvertown Tunnel opening to help cyclists cross the Thames safely
Our TBM has been named 'Jill' in honour of Jill Viner - the first female to drive a London bus in June 1974. Jill Viner is a fitting choice because of the new cross-river bus opportunities the tunnel will create, plus Jill's contribution to the history of women bus drivers in London and equality within the transport industry.
TBM 'Jill' has been specially manufactured for the scheme and is the largest by diameter to ever be used in the UK.
Cutter-face or shield diameter: 11.91 metres, equivalent to nearly three double decker buses
Length (when fully assembled): approximately 82 metres
Weight (when fully assembled): 1,800 tonnes (1,200 tonnes of this is the shield which makes it 95 times heavier than a double decker bus)
The TBM averaged around 22 metres a day as it worked its way under the river from Newham to Greenwich
With the main tunnelling complete, the TBM will now be disassembled in the retrieval chamber in Newham and be recycled for use by the manufacturer for other tunnelling projects
A102 realignment for Silvertown Tunnel entrance
Riverlinx is working to realign the road network in Newham and Greenwich to link in with the new tunnel.
On 9 October 2023, the A102 southbound carriageway will be moved from its current position onto its new alignment. Take extra care when exiting the southbound Blackwall tunnel and using the new carriageway.
During the works, some disruption on the A102 may be expected as traffic enters and exits the Blackwall Tunnel on the south side of the river. Plan ahead and leave more time for your journey.
If your destination is not central London, including longer distance trips by HGV drivers, you may want to consider using the Dartford Crossing to complete your journey. For the latest information on how roads are operating in the area, check traffic status updates.
Other construction works
The Silvertown Tunnel scheme includes several above-ground developments including new buildings and other structures as well as landscaping on both sides of the river. These are currently in the design and development stage with final design approvals yet to be agreed.
Boord Street bridge
The proposed Boord Street pedestrian and cycle bridge will replace the current concrete footbridge that crosses the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road - the new bridge will be approximately 40m further south. Designed to be fully accessible, the new bridge will play an important role in connecting the existing pedestrian and cycle network across the Greenwich Peninsula.
Designs have been developed for two 'portal buildings' above the entrances of the tunnel on each side of the Thames. These will house the operations centre to manage and maintain the tunnel in the future.
Designs include green roof-top gardens to encourage biodiversity and create attractive views.
Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group
The Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group (STIG) was set up under the terms of the Development Consent Order (DCO) issued by the Department for Transport. It includes representatives from London's boroughs, the GLA and National Highways.
We're required to consult with STIG on matters around planning and operating the scheme. This includes air quality and traffic monitoring, the setting of user charges and proposals for the new bus services.
Once the Silvertown Tunnel opens, drivers must pay a user charge for using either the Blackwall or the Silvertown Tunnel. The exact charge levels for various types of vehicles using the new tunnel will be decided closer to the opening date.
This user charge will pay for building and maintaining the tunnel - but its main purpose is to help us manage traffic levels. (It's a legal requirement of the planning approvals to have this in place when the tunnel opens.) Any surplus revenue will be reinvested in London's transport network.
We will only start paying the Riverlinx consortium once the tunnel is open and available for use. We will also be able to reduce payments if the tunnel doesn't meet certain standards, such as being available for traffic.
Without the Silvertown Tunnel, congestion and air quality around the Blackwall Tunnel are predicted to get worse as London's population grows.
User charges for the new tunnel, as well as the new cross-river bus network, will help us manage the environmental impact of traffic. We are committed to ensuring the scheme delivers an overall improvement on air quality.
Air quality in London has improved since we were granted permission to build the Silvertown Tunnel due to the progress of the Mayor's Transport Strategy. This includes the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the North and South Circulars.
It's important that we test any improvement in air quality against pollution levels at the time of opening rather than from our previous work in 2016. For this reason, we are updating our initial forecasts which will guide user charging decisions and help us to identify if any local changes are needed. The outcomes of this work will be shared in 2023.
Since December 2020, we've been monitoring air quality and specifically nitrogen dioxide (NO2) to ensure that the impacts of the Silvertown Tunnel are fully understood, and we get the overall air quality improvement expected.
As part of this work, we installed 38 new air quality monitors at 35 locations in the boroughs of Greenwich, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Lewisham. Three of the 38 air quality monitors are continuous monitors which sample the air around the unit in 15-minute intervals and the data is reported live on the London Air Quality Network website. Other monitors are diffusion tubes installed on lamp posts on key roads and provide us with monthly averages of NO2 levels.
This report also contains air quality data from selected local authorities, to give us an understanding of actual air quality levels on roads around the scheme before it opens.
We will continue to monitor air quality (NO2) before and after the opening of the tunnel and will publish our annual reports online.
Supporting local residents and businesses
We are legally committed to a wide range of improvements and measures to reduce the impact of the new tunnel and support the wider local area.
£1m worth of support for local businesses to help them adapt to the user charge when the Silvertown Tunnel is operational
Extensive monitoring, particularly around air quality, done both before and after the opening of the tunnel. Regular reports will be published online and if readings suggest impacts are worse than originally anticipated, we will review what else we can do to address them
A user-charging discount to specifically help low-income residents in the host boroughs of Greenwich, Newham and Tower Hamlets
£2m in bus concessions for local residents to help promote the new cross-river bus services which will run through the tunnel, as well as supporting them to move away from private car use wherever possible. We will also enhance river crossing facilities for cyclists and pedestrians across the local area
2025: Planned opening of the new tunnel
2024: Registration opens for user-charging accounts (for both Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels)
2023: Cross-river bus network proposals announced, and opening user charges developed
Spring 2023: Tunnelling of second bore begins northwards
Winter 2022/23: TBM completes first bore and is turned 180 degrees
September 2022: Tunnelling begins southbound towards Greenwich
Spring 2022: TBM is assembled
2020: Main construction activity starts
2019: Preferred contractor announced and contract awarded
February-October 2018: Ground and river survey work
May 2018: DCO gives the go ahead by the DfT
2016-2017: Hearing and examination process
April 2016: We apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for the DCO
We need to own the land (including subsoil) required for the Silvertown Tunnel, and must acquire new rights (including restrictive covenants) to protect the new tunnel infrastructure from potentially conflicting future development and for the health and safety of it users.
The DCO includes powers which enable us to secure the necessary land and rights compulsorily. While our preferred approach is to acquire land and rights by agreement with landowners, we have also followed a legal process to enable us to acquire compulsorily the land and rights needed for the Silvertown Tunnel through the use of GVDs.
The legal documents associated with the GVD process are:
The Silvertown Tunnel (North) GVD 2023. The online GVD is an unexecuted version of the document, but identical in all material ways to the executed version which is signed, sealed and dated 19 April 2023
The Silvertown Tunnel (Newham Highways) GVD 2023. The online GVD is an unexecuted version of the document, but identical in all material ways to the executed version which is signed, sealed and dated 17 April 2023
The Silvertown Tunnel (Tunnel) GVD 2023. The online GVD is an unexecuted version of the document, but identical in all material ways to the executed version which is signed, sealed and dated 10 February 2023
The Silvertown Tunnel (North Portal Access) GVD 2022. The online GVD is an unexecuted version of the document, but identical in all material ways to the executed version which is signed, sealed and dated 19 December 2022
The Silvertown Tunnel South Portal (Greenwich) GVD 2022. The online GVD is an unexecuted version of the document, but identical in all material ways to the executed version which is signed, sealed and dated 30 November 2022
The Silvertown Tunnel Greenwich Highways GVD 2022. The online GVD is an unexecuted version of the document, but identical in all material ways to the executed version which is signed, sealed and dated 21 July 2022
Copies of executed GVDs can be inspected at our offices at: 5 Endeavour Square, London, E20 1JN.
We held a consultation on the Silvertown Tunnel scheme October-November 2015 and before that October-December 2014.
Consultation October-November 2015
These documents are intended to help explain the Silvertown Tunnel scheme in more detail to a non-technical audience. Our consultation booklet provides an overview of all the key elements and effects of the scheme.
The following documents outline our assessment of a range of alternative options for addressing the challenges at the Blackwall Tunnel and what effect the Silvertown Tunnel scheme might have on users of the River Thames.
Outlines the user charging proposals for the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels and sets out TfL's reasons for proposing user charging, the proposed structure and implementation of the charge and the objectives TfL would take into account in setting the charge and varying it in the future.
Details the main transport impacts of the scheme for all forms of travel and what measures would be taken to minimise any adverse impacts. It also examines road network impacts and impacts on public transport networks and walking and cycling.
Sets out the outline scheme design. It demonstrates why it is a suitable response to the site and its setting, taking into account existing and future planned development and that it can be adequately and safely accessed. It also sets out the design principles which will inform the detailed design, providing examples of how the scheme may develop in the future.
Preliminary environmental information report (PEIR)
Describes the scheme and the main alternatives considered. A non-technical summary of the PEIR is also available - it summarises the PEIR in plain English.
The PEIR sets out the environmental baseline information, provides an assessment of likely environmental effects and, where necessary, describes mitigation measures that would avoid, reduce or offset the adverse environmental effects.
Assesses the opportunities for minimising CO2 emissions during construction and operation of the tunnel. It considers the implementation of passive design measures, energy efficiency, and low and zero carbon technologies.
These reports contain supplementary information about the Silvertown Tunnel scheme or its impacts. We have published them because they are referenced in some of the reports included in the Main case section.
Health impact assessment (HIA) scoping opinion
Sets out the matters that were identified as relevant for consideration in the HIA and a proposed scope and methodology. This was consulted on with relevant health related stakeholders and the results of this informed the development of the preliminary HIA.
In March 2015 we published a consultation report, setting out the range of issues raised in the consultation held at the end of 2014. In June 2015 we then published a 'Responses to issues raised' report, setting out our response to these issues.
This section contains historical reports relating to the need for a crossing to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and resolve other issues; the options we considered for addressing these problems; the case for a new tunnel and the impacts the tunnel might have.
Assessment of needs and options
Outlines the need for a new river crossing and assesses eight potential new crossing options to identify a preferred solution
Sets out the evidence for investing in a new crossing to address the congestion and road network resilience issues at the Blackwall Tunnel - it considers alternative options for addressing these issues and comments on the benefits that a new tunnel, with associated user charging, would provide, and presents an economic appraisal of the proposed tunnel scheme and includes an outline of the financing and procurement strategy
Consider the existing transport network and travel demand in east and south-east London, with a specific focus on demand for river crossings - assessing the impacts of the proposed tunnel on transport, including construction impacts and also presenting potential mitigating measures
Outline our initial assessment of the equalities impacts of the scheme
Outline our initial assessment of the impact of the scheme on health
Summarise environmental work undertaken to date as part of the environmental impact assessment process for the proposed tunnel and include an initial indication of the environmental impacts of the scheme and potential mitigation measures (includes five appendices with drawings)
Reports that support the documents in the Main case section and outline the principle impacts of the tunnel and the case for building a new crossing
Documents that deal with the process of considering options for new crossings
Environmental impact assessment
Outlines the proposed methodology to be used to assess the environmental impacts of the scheme and the information that will be included within the Environmental statement - it was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for comment on 25 June 2014
Contains the scoping opinion as provided by the Secretary of State in respect of the proposed content and methodology of the Environmental statement for the Silvertown Tunnel - it was provided to TfL following submission and consideration of the Environmental impact assessment scoping report in June 2014