Search for partner to build Britain’s longest road tunnel, begins


11 Nov 2020

Lower Thames Crossing tunnel view

Today we are inviting tenders to build the longest road tunnel in Britain that sits at the heart of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, the most ambitious roads project for a generation. 

The Lower Thames Crossing will improve journeys by almost doubling road capacity across the Thames east of London with 14.3 miles of new road featuring two 2.6 mile-long tunnels. Works on the project could start in about 18 months and would provide a huge jobs boost to the UK infrastructure industry.  

£2bn tunnel construction competition launches today 

At 16 metres wide, these tunnels will be some of the largest bored tunnels in the world.  They will also be the longest road tunnels in the UK. 

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing Executive Director, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed nearly 35 years ago. At a time of huge uncertainty for the industry this contract shows our commitment to this project, which will support thousands of jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.  

“The scheme will relieve congestion at the Dartford Crossing by providing a new free flowing road, almost doubling road capacity across the Thames and supporting sustainable local and regional economic growth.” 

The Lower Thames Crossing is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), which are large, complex infrastructure projects that benefit the entire country.

To get permission to build and operate the new crossing, we must seek consent through a special planning process and be awarded a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the government's independent planning authority, the Planning Inspectorate.

Find out more about that process here.


About the Tunnels and Approaches package 

  • A bespoke NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) form of contract will be used for this package
  • The contract notice will be sent for publication in the European Journal 11th November with an anticipated publication date of 13th November
  • Bidders will be asked to return a selection questionnaire before the end of the year. We expect three applicants to be shortlisted to move forward into the competitive dialogue stage, with the contract award anticipated in 2022
  • The tender process will be undertaken via Bravo (eSourcing platform) and Highways England ask that interested parties register here
  • The details of the Bravo project to be used will be released in the tender notice