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London River Thames

Upgrading London’s sewer system to meet growing population

The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a major new sewer, urgently needed to protect the River Thames from pollution and to modernise London’s Victorian sewerage network for the 21st century.

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Complex delivery

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VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche Ltd

Key benefits


direct jobs created with an additional 5,000+ indirect jobs


people recruited onto pre-employment programme


students from local schools took part in pioneering STEM programme


reduction in carbon emissions achieved to date using CITT


hours volunteering, equivalent to 619 work days as of Sept 18

London relies on a 150-year-old sewer system built for a population less than half its current size. To make London’s sewerage network fit for the 21st century and help prevent the millions of tonnes of sewerage pollution discharge into the river each year, Costain and its JV partners were awarded the contract for the East works package of the Thames Tideway Tunnel. This is one of three delivery partners that make up the Tideway project.

The Eastern section consists of a tunnel from Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in Stratford, with a smaller connection tunnel from Greenwich Pumping Station to Chambers Wharf.

Thames Tideway map

This infrastructure project, which is the biggest ever undertaken by the UK water industry and due for completion by 2023, will create more than 4,000 direct sustainable jobs, and another 5,000 jobs indirectly. It will offer hundreds of apprenticeships, work placements and is committed to employing local people. It will also create a never-before seen surge in the river economy through marine employment opportunities.

Thames Reach pre-employment programme

Peter Cheasman, from Catford in south-east London, slept on the streets of London after he was released from a six-month spell in prison. The former tyre-fitter was referred to Thames Reach, one of Tideway’s charity partners which helps homeless and vulnerable people get back into work, before he was put forward for Tideway’s pre-employment programme.

Former Homeless Man Finds Work On London’s Super Sewer
Image: Peter Cheasman

The scheme, funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and aimed at people who live in boroughs where Tideway’s main sites are based, provides interview preparation and practice, health and safety training, work experience and a guaranteed interview for full-time employment on the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Peter is now working full-time on the Tideway East alliance as a general operative.

“As we build our tunnel to help clean up the River Thames, we are also dedicated to providing employment opportunities for local people and opening up doors to careers in construction. “Following our first pre-employment programme, we are delighted that two people from our local boroughs have started in full-time roles on the Thames Tideway Tunnel. They clearly demonstrated their commitment throughout the pre-employment process and have fitted well into the teams on site and are already adding real value.”

Jeremy Galpin, Legacy Lead for the Tideway East delivery team

Breaking Barriers

Costain together with its JV partners created a pioneering programme called ‘Breaking Barriers’. The programme aims to help increase employability and promote careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), whilst also channelling the focus on the river to support young people to achieve their potential.

Run in partnership with London Youth Rowing (LYR), the programme includes rowing sessions on the River Thames, where students learn the value of discipline and teamwork, along with building their own and each other’s self-esteem.

Year 10 and 11 students from Stepney Green in Tower Hamlets and St Angela’s, Chobham Academy and Brampton Manor Academy in Newham took part in ‘Breaking Barriers’, which also involves mentoring sessions run by dedicated STEM ambassadors working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Through the business skills explored during these mentoring sessions – from goal setting to problem solving - the programme aims to strengthen the resilience of each student. The bespoke Visitor Centre at the Chambers Wharf site is specially equipped with rowing machines and screens enabling students to simulate racing each other, championing the importance of teamwork.

Reducing environmental impact

We have worked with Volvo’s Construction Climate Challenge and the University of Edinburgh Business School to develop an industry leading, fully integrated carbon infrastructure transformation tool (CITT). The tool takes data inputs from estimating, planning and building information modelling [BIM] teams and allocates carbon quantities against line items. This has enabled our Tideway East delivery team to identify the dominant materials and processes for their environmental impact, allowing us to collaborate with our supply chain to provide alternative solutions.

Contact and social


Gerard Shore, Sector Director
0161 910 3444
[email protected]