About £85 million spent to update Heathrow tunnels and reinforce them against heavy A380s above
The main tunnel into Heathrow airport terminals was built in the 1950s, to the standards of the time. The runways to over it. Now with better safety standards needed in case of fire, and with heavier planes overhead, with aircraft like the A380, the tunnels need to be refurbished and strengthened. This work is costing about £85 million, which is about 10 times the cost of their initial construction. Work is being done at night, keeping one tunnel open. The work is due to finish in about February 2016. Presumably – if Heathrow was to get its north west 3rd runway and the M25 had to be tunnelled underneath it – the same quality of tunnel with extra strength to withstand heavier planes has to be incorporated.The Airports Commission considered the cost of surface access improvements for the Heathrow runway would be about £5.7 billion (the cost of the M25 tunnelling is an unspecified part of that total). Heathrow airport is not willing to pay those costs, and wants the taxpayer to bear the financial burden.
It’s costing tens of millions of pounds and will take another year to be completed.
A major project to refurbish and strengthen the famous road tunnels leading to Heathrow airport is continuing.
It’s to improve safety and allow for the new generation of heavier planes using the runway above.
The work is being carried out during the night so the airport can operate as normal during the day.
Transport correspondent Mike Pearse.
Bam Nuttall ready to go on £85m Heathrow tunnel revamp
Bam Nuttall win £85m job to refurbish the main airport road tunnel and cargo tunnel at Heathrow
The civils contractor confirmed that it had been appointed to the job by Heathrow Airport Ltd, and is due to commence later this month.
Bam Nuttall will be in partnership with specialist mechanical and electrical contractor VVB on the project, after working with the firm on the upgrade to the bound bore of the Blackwall Tunnel.
The firms will be required to keep the tunnels open during the work in order avoid disruption to the airport, meaning the work to refurbish and improve the tunnel ventilation systems and upgrade the fire detection, suppression and alarm systems will take place over night and during pre planned lane closures.
The work is scheduled to complete at the end of February 2016.
Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay
The Airports Commission left the matter of who would pay for the approximately £5 billion needed to tunnel a section of the M25, and other surface access improvements, vague. The assumption has been made that the taxpayer would have to fund this, though the Airports Commission suggested that Heathrow would be able to find the funding from its investors for this. Now the CEO of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a 3rd runway is built. Huge motorway engineering would be needed, to have the runway going over the motorway. John Holland-Kaye has ruled out paying for the surface access work. Though the government funds road and rail improvements under normal circumstances, tunnelling the M25 and dealing with hugely increased road traffic using an airport 50% larger than at present are not normal circumstances. Especially in times of huge economic savings being necessary in public finances. The Commission’s final report said it considered the runway was commercially viable “without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs.” This would be by Heathrow “raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator.”