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TBM Millicent starts tunnelling Tideway tunnel

tbm in battersea1

Millicent, the tunnel boring machine (TBM) named after suffragist Millicent Fawcett, has begun tunnelling for the Tideway tunnel.

Launching at Kirtling Street in Battersea today, Millicent is one of two TBMs that will build the 13km central section of the main tunnel, while two more machines will dig the 7km west section and the 5.5km east section.

Two smaller TBMs will also dig the 1.1km Frogmore Connection Tunnel in Wandsworth and the 4.6km Greenwich Connection Tunnel.

Tideway Chief Operating Officer Mark Sneesby said: “Laying the first ring on the Thames Tideway Tunnel is a huge milestone that we’ve been working towards for more than a year. While you might have spotted our sites above ground along the River Thames, our team underground are now also in full swing as they start digging the 25km super sewer that will help clean up our river.

Tunnelling project manager at Kirtling Street Juan Martinez added: “Today is a momentous occasion for us as we switch on the first TBM on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, taking us one step closer in our mission to clean up the River Thames.”

As the first machine digging London’s super sewer has started work, Tideway has announced twelve new apprenticeships are being offered to train the next generation of tunnellers.

The Level 2 tunnelling apprenticeship was approved in January 2018, and this is the first time it has been offered in the industry, offering trainees a chance to learn tunnelling skills while studying at the same time.

Four tunnelling apprenticeships are being offered by each of the joint ventures. By the end of the apprenticeship, individuals will be competent tunnelling operatives able to assist with the excavation, support and forming of tunnels and shafts. They will learn typical tunnelling methods such as hand tunnelling, machine tunnelling, pipejacking, sprayed concrete lining, shaft sinking and drill and blast.

Tideway’s head of skills and employment Scott Young said: “This is the first opportunity to deliver a full cohort of tunnelling apprentices since the standard was approved in January. For our contractors and their wider supply chain to commit to employing these individuals and embedding them within their tunnelling gangs marks a major step forward for Tideway and we hope it will lead the way in delivering similar apprenticeships on major programmes in the future.”

Read GE’s interview with Scott Young here.

“With all of our contractors currently delivering their target of one apprentice for every 50 site employees, this scheme is an opportunity to bring people from diverse backgrounds into part of the industry where we have previously struggled to make vocational routes work effectively. This programme is about showing the range of varied occupations in our sector that offer a rewarding career and potentially global travel for many years into the future for the successful candidates,” Young added. 

To find out more information and to apply, register on the Build London portal and email jobs@buildlondon.org expressing interest in the role. Attraction and assessment events for the positions will be held by Tideway employers early in the new year.

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