A102 Blackwall Tunnel Northbound Refurbishment

Contract Value £30m
Opened in 1897 the single two lane bore of the northbound carriageway is 1,364 metres in length tunnel receiving more than 50,000 vehicles per day enabling passage via the A102 beneath the river Thames. It is a key link between the North and South sides of the river. This project was to refurbish the northbound carriageway in order to meet current safety standards.

The tunnel, along with all four of the associated ventilation shafts were upgraded as part of the project for which VVB provided a full M&E installation package to BAM Nuttall which included all enabling, temporary and permanent M&E works.

Working collaboratively with civils contractor BAM Nuttall our role involved the removal of existing mechanical and electrical infrastructure and the installation of new mechanical and electrical systems as well as the installation of fire detection systems in response to new European regulations to bring the tunnel infrastructure up to modern safety standards.

Our Role included:

  • Interfacing with the civil works
  • Responsibility for electrical safety on the project
  • Providing Senior Authorised, Authorised and Competent Persons for the project
  • Management of specialist suppliers and subcontractors
  • Maintenance of new M&E Systems
  • Liaison with the current maintainers, local authorities and emergency services
  • Detailed design

VVB are not only responsible for installation of new M&E systems, but also removal of old M&E Systems. Both of which have to progress whilst maintaining the functionality of the tunnel requiring VVB to offer temporary solutions to ensure the tunnel remains safely operational for the duration of the project.

Our technical competencies included project management of the M&E works and site responsibility for the electrical safety, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, fire engineering and communications engineering, decommissioning of old systems and the commissioning of new systems. All of these competencies were provided by existing staff resources with a long working track record of successful delivery of similar projects. The collaborative contracting arrangement enabled stakeholder management and project coordination interfaces to be conducted during the early stages to progress approach, to promote the understanding of the requirements and to agree solutions.

Scope of Works:

  • Ventilation System
  • Tunnel Lighting
  • HV/LV Power Supply and Distribution System
  • Tunnel Evacuation Signs
  • Crane and Hoist systems
  • Lifts
  • Ancillary Systems
  • Tunnel pumped drainage
  • Communications backbone network system
  • SCADA Systems
  • PA Loudspeaker System
  • Radio and Mobile Phone Systems
  • CCTV System
  • Telephone System
  • Traffic Management System

The project commenced in February 2011 and was completed in December 2011 some 9 months ahead of programme due to our collaboration with stakeholders, client and designers.

“Your approach to the task enabled this technically challenging project to be brought in under budget and within programme, without compromise to quality or safety. All three main parties; TfL, BAM Nuttall and VVB worked together in a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation to agree value engineering solutions, minimise impact to the travelling public and make the project the success that it has become.
Recognised more recently by the construction industry with the number of prestigious awards the Blackwall Tunnel has been nominated for.
The busiest road tunnel in London has been successfully modernised and upgraded, under budget and a year ahead of schedule, with minimal disruption.”

— Head of Projects and Programmes, TfL