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The 2+2=6 effect

Ben Kirk | 27 Jul 2016 | Comments

An Olympic effort: A look back on what we learned from London 2012 about working in partnership to deliver major infrastructure in the capital

With the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games only a few weeks away, it has taken me back to thinking about the work Atkins completed in the run up to the London 2012 Games. I am still proud of the work I was involved with, during that time and the work that we at Atkins delivered with our partners.

I thought the scale of the Olympics project would not be repeated, after all it was a once in a lifetime opportunity working on the biggest regeneration project that London had seen. However, four years on, I find myself working on another first for both London and the UK - the Thames Tideway Tunnel, which is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.

In 2015, Atkins was appointed on Tideway West, as part of a joint venture with Arup to deliver a consultancy contract for a range of design and engineering services to BMB, a joint venture between BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty, appointed by Tideway to deliver the West section of London’s new ‘super sewer’.

Valued at £416 million, the six kilometre ‘West’ section of the 25km Thames Tideway Tunnel will run from Acton in West London to Wandsworth in South West London incorporating seven separate work sites along the route.

On completion, the Thames Tideway Tunnel will provide additional capacity in the capital’s sewer system to support its projected population for at least the next 100 years, and will tackle the issue of CSO discharges to the River Thames.

Working on this project resembles the work we undertook for the 2012 Games in many ways. Firstly, it is helping with the regeneration of London as I think we can all agree that a healthy River Thames plays an essential role in the wellbeing and prosperity of London and its people. Being part of a huge scheme that will promote a positive change in the relationship that Londoners and visitors have with the Thames is an incredible thing for our staff to be involved with.

It also brings out the team player in us. During the run up to the 2012 Games we worked intimately with a range of partners, and we now find ourselves in a joint venture with Arup, working for a construction joint venture. Being co-located with our partners, has helped bring us together as one team, all working together to achieve the same objectives.

There are so many other skills that were put to test in the run up to the summer of 2012 that I am sure we will draw on again in our time working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel  - working to a huge deadline, to budget and delivering quality work first time - to name a few.

In the same way as the Olympics, this project won’t be easy and will put us to a test - but we are all that little bit older and even more experienced than 4 years ago, which I am sure will stand us in good stead. What is particularly pleasing is that there are graduates and young professionals involved with this scheme that weren’t working in the industry in 2012 – for them it will give them the same amazing opportunity that it gave the team who worked on the Olympics – an opportunity to work on a scheme that will change the landscape of London, forever, and for better.