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Preferred Silvertown tunnel bidder named - as opening delayed until 2025

PUBLISHED: 11:34 30 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:21 30 May 2019

CGI of one of the Silvertown tunnel entrances. Picture: TfL

CGI of one of the Silvertown tunnel entrances. Picture: TfL

TfL

Transport for London has revealed further details about the planned Silvertown tunnel as it names the preferred bidder for the £1 billion project.

The Riverlinx consortium has been selected to design, build, finance and maintain the 1.4km road link.

Work on the tunnel is due to begin later this year and will connect Silvertown to Greenwich, aiming to reduce congestion in the nearby Blackwall tunnel.

But the opening date has now been pushed back to 2025. It had originally been touted for a 2023 launch before TfL's draft business plan in December 2018 revealed a revised 2024 opening.

Once the tunnel does open, a user charge will be introduced for both it and the Blackwall tunnel, which TfL has said is a legal requirement as part of the planning approval.

The money will go towards covering construction and maintenance costs, with the exact charge levels for each type of vehicle to be decided closer to the opening date.

Both tunnels will fall within the expanded ultra-low emission zone designed to tackle air quality in the capital, while around 37 buses an hour - all expected to be zero emission - are proposed to operate through the Silvertown tunnel in each direction.

This will link areas like Stratford and Canary Wharf to parts of south east London such as Eltham, Grove Park and Charlton for the first time.

Noise barriers will be set up along the tunnel's approach roads while there will be green spaces and walking and cycling upgrades around the tunnel entrances.

Alex Williams, director of city planning at TfL, said: "We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the project is delivered with minimal impact to local residents.

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"We will closely monitor noise and air quality during construction and traffic levels and emissions once the tunnel is complete."

The consortium - made up of Aberdeen Standard Investments, BAM PPP PGGM, Cintra, Macquarie Capital and SK Engineering & Construction - is expected to confirm financial arrangements through the summer and will only be awarded the contract once these are agreed.

It will be procured through a design, build, finance and maintain contract, meaning the financial risk will initially sit with the consortium rather than TfL.

Chair of the London Assembly transport committee, Florence Eshalomi, said: "The mayor believes the Silvertown tunnel project will improve cross-river connectivity in east London and reduce congestion.

"We are also aware that some believe the scheme will encourage more traffic and increase air pollution.

"It is our understanding that TfL will only start paying for the tunnel once it's completed and operational, however, the Transport Committee needs to keep a close eye on progress with this project and we will be asking questions every step of the way."

Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, Newham's cabinet member for highways and sustainable transport, added: "This administration was opposed to the Silvertown tunnel development because it's vital that our residents and businesses are able to travel across our borough without facing high levels of congestion and suffering from the impact of heavy traffic.

"But the decision was ultimately taken out of our hands.

"We can't allow the project to have a detrimental impact on air quality in the borough, which is already affecting the health of our residents.

"That's why we'll be keeping a close eye on this project both during and after the construction phase, so that the assurances given to our residents by TfL about minimising it's impact will be kept.

"If these assurances aren't met, we'll be demanding action from the consortium and TfL to bring the project back on track.

"We'll also continue pressing for much needed public transport infrastructure in the Royal Docks and promoting alternatives to car use in Newham because tackling air pollution in our borough is a high priority."

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