Operational rehearsal of Tideway incident management plans
Tideway is the company delivering London’s super sewer – the Thames Tideway Tunnel. They lead a delivery team constructing a 25km sewer tunnel under the River Thames, preventing tens of millions of tonnes of pollution from flowing into the Thames each year. This project began in 2015 and is due to complete in 2024, at a cost of £4.2bn. Construction is taking place across 24 construction sites in central London, many located on the river edge, in the busy centre of the city.
Unsurprisingly, given the size of the project and its location, Tideway faced many challenges. With multiple sites in key central London hotspots, like Blackfriars Bridge and Chelsea Embankment, and a third of a million freight vehicle movements, there was enormous potential for negative impact on London road network. Transport for London’s Surface Transport team manage the road network and they sought assurance from Tideway that effective incident management plans were in place, understood and thoroughly tested by delivery partners, with appropriate coordination from Tideway’s incident management. Although incident plans were in place at major works contractor level, they were untested at project and network level. Tideway manages delivery through four delivery partners, themselves major works consortia. They needed to build confidence in their ability to coordinate and respond effectively to a range of scenarios likely to impact Tideway sites and road network operations.
Tideway knew they needed effective change management and expert communications to manage challenges they faced in delivery of this project. With our experience and depth of knowledge, we were able to offer advice and input on refining and simplifying their Incident Management Plan, ensuring it was clear, unambiguous and effective. We engaged with their stakeholders to identify high-risk sites and scenarios as priorities for testing. We then prepared, developed and carried out two operational rehearsal workshops, attended by over 40 managers, including delegates from delivery partners and Transport for London.
The scenarios we developed for the operational rehearsals provided clarity and valuable insights into how coordination and control processes would work in practice. As a result, processes were streamlined and developed into a simple aide-memoire for management teams. The event proved highly successful in increasing confidence in the Incident Management Plan. Serious incidents in September and November 2017 really emphasised the importance of effective Incident Management Plans and the benefits of the operational rehearsal programme.
The overwhelming view from Tideway and Transport for London was that these events, and our ability to develop and facilitate them, were a great success. Every stakeholder we engaged during the process found it worthwhile and an effective way to validate Incident Management Plans at the interface of major projects and Transport for London.
In March 2019 Tideway’s tunnelling machines from the three major drive sites reached the 100-metre mark. Only a fraction of an estimated 8 million tonnes of spoil has been moved so far!