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Rachel rolls up the river – first machine to dig super sewer arrives on the Thames

Tideway, the organisation building London’s new super sewer, has welcomed the arrival of the first of its six tunnel boring machines (TBMs).

The TBM, which when fully assembled will weigh a total of 1,350 tonnes, made its way through central London along the iconic River Thames having made the 850 kilometre journey by barge from Kehl, Germany where it has undergone rigorous testing.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel, a major infrastructure project, will tackle sewage pollution in the River Thames and will use six machines to build the 25 km tunnel. Tideway has pledged to transport over 90 per cent of materials by barge, including the TBMs, which will reduce the number of road vehicle journeys needed to build the tunnel by more than 300,000.* Use of the river will also boost the number of jobs on the river, with the project delivering around 4,000 jobs in total.

The BAM Nuttall 3-way joint venture with Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty is delivering the west section of the tunnel.

Andy Mitchell, Tideway’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The arrival of our first TBM marks a major milestone for the construction of London’s super sewer and it also demonstrates our commitment to use the river to transport materials and reduce the number of vehicles on London’s roads.

“Our vision is to reconnect London with the River Thames and, by practicing what we preach, we want to demonstrate the huge potential of our city’s greatest natural asset.”

To make the journey from Germany by barge the TBM had to be dismantled and over the next few months it will be reassembled at Tideway’s Carnwath Road site in south west London.

The TBM will be named Rachel, after Rachel Parsons, an engineer and advocate for women’s employment rights, who set up the first women-only engineering company in Fulham.

The machine when fully assembled will be 147 metres long, the length of 12 and a half double decker buses, and 8.130 metres in diameter. Tunnelling will start in 2018.