Lower Thames Crossing delivery team complete as Bouygues Travaux Publics – Murphy awarded tunnelling contract

  • Low-carbon bid from Bouygues Travaux Publics – Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV) wins Lower Thames Crossing Tunnels and Approaches contract
  • The contract award completes the team that will build the Lower Thames Crossing, as BMJV joins Balfour Beatty (Roads North of the Thames) and Skanska (Kent Roads)
  • The team is focused on carbon reduction, value for money and building a local workforce and supply chain ahead of a Development Consent Order decision

National Highways has today (7 December 2023) announced that it has awarded Bouygues Travaux Publics – Murphy Joint Venture the contract to build the country’s largest bored tunnels.

The Lower Thames Crossing is a proposed new road connecting Kent and Essex, and is designed to tackle congestion at the Dartford Crossing. The new route will help grow the economy across the UK by almost doubling road capacity across the Thames east of London and make journeys across the region quicker, safer and more reliable. 

The award of the Tunnels and Approaches contract completes the assembly of the Lower Thames Crossing delivery team, with BMJV joining Balfour Beatty who will build the roads north of the Thames, and Skanska who will build the roads in Kent.

The delivery team is now getting construction ready by using their extensive experience in delivering major projects around the globe to improve the design and exploring ways to maximise the benefits of the project. This includes working with local stakeholders to carry out the detailed design work that will reduce the impact of construction on the local community and environment, and to embed new and emerging low carbon technologies and materials. The team has also made commitments to develop a local supply chain, and help local people take advantage of the new green jobs and skills that will be available on their doorstep during construction. 

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing Executive Director, said: “This contract award completes a world class team that has carbon reduction, community and value at its heart. By bringing the team together at an early stage we can focus on driving out carbon, delivering the best possible value for money and maximising the huge benefits the project will deliver nationally, regionally and locally."

“Bouygues Travaux Publics – Murphy JV and all of our delivery partners are fully bought into our passion for delivering a green-skills legacy and share our ambition to use the Lower Thames Crossing as a catalyst to change the whole construction industry’s attitude and approach to carbon reduction.” 

Bertrand Burtschell, Managing Director of Bouygues Travaux Publics, said: We are excited to work in partnership with National Highways and our joint venture partner Murphy, alongside a range of amazing local supply chain and stakeholder partners to deliver the Lower Thames Crossing Tunnels and Approaches contract on time and on budget, while playing our part in creating a positive long-lasting legacy for the Lower Thames Crossing project in both Kent and Essex. Alongside our Lower Thames Crossing delivery partners, we will work tirelessly to deliver a project that is the benchmark for future infrastructure in terms of skills education, employment opportunities, local business growth and exemplar low carbon construction!

Nick Fletcher, UK Managing Director at Murphy, said: We are delighted to have been awarded the Tunnels and Approaches in partnership with National Highways and our joint venture partner Bouygues Travaux Publics. At Murphy, our purpose is to improve life by delivering world-class infrastructure, we look forward to working with all partners and stakeholders on this project to help realise the long term benefits of investing in a key part of the UK’s national infrastructure. Lower Thames Crossing is a great opportunity for all partners to showcase our engineering expertise and commitment to collaboration and constructing low carbon infrastructure.

The Tunnels and Approaches contract includes the design and construction of twin road tunnels under the river Thames, which at 2.6 miles will be the longest in the UK. At over 16 metres wide they will be one of the widest in Europe to enable three lanes of traffic to flow through freely at the national speed limit. This includes the UK’s next generation of goods vehicles that are currently restricted from crossing at Dartford, such as efficient double decker HGVs and those carrying sustainable fuels like hydrogen. The contract also includes the tunnel systems, portal buildings, and approach roads.  

The Lower Thames Crossing's ground-breaking procurement process builds upon National Highways’ track record of delivering major projects such as the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme early and on budget, and has learned the lessons from other infrastructure programmes. Bringing the delivery partners on board at an early stage, combined with the additional planning time gained by rephasing the project’s construction period earlier this year, means National Highways is able to more effectively manage risk and cost.  

The procurement approach also supported the project's role as a Pathfinder exploring carbon neutral construction. It is the first major infrastructure project in the UK to set an ambitious construction carbon limit in its procurement process, and then allow the competition between bidders to achieve further carbon reduction at no additional cost. BMJV have used their tunnelling and engineering experience to dramatically reduce the embodied carbon below this carbon limit, as well as ways to refine the design to reduce disruption to the local community and leave a legacy of green jobs and skills in the region and broader supply chain.