Ferrovial Construction JV project completes major expansion of London Underground



Ferrovial Construction, in joint venture with Laing O’Rourke, has achieved, in collaboration with London Underground and FLO’s supply chain partners, the Northern Line Extension (NLE) project being in commercial service on 20th September 2021.

The first public Tube service on the extension travelled at 05:28, running from Kennington Station on the Charing Cross branch, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan formerly recognising the opening later in the day.

This is the first major expansion of the London Underground this century and has been delivered on programme and on budget.

The transportation system extension is the principal infrastructure upgrade for the Nine Elms South Bank re-development, Europe’s largest regeneration project, and will support thousands of new homes as well as new businesses and attractions.

The contract was awarded to the Ferrovial Construction Laing O’Rourke joint venture in September 2014 and since then has involved the design and construction of two new stations, Nine Elms and the Battersea Power Station, the tunnels, rail and connections to the existing Northern Line railway. There were operations on two complex shaft sites at Kennington, (Kennington Green and in Kennington Park) which enabled the construction of four new cross passages between platforms and the installation of smoke doors at Kennington station.

Despite the pandemic, the project team were able to maintain productivity due to the creation of a COVID-compliant change to works which included changes to PPE, social distancing on site, rotation systems being implemented and a change in shift patterns to enable 24 hour working.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and under social distancing constraints, power was supplied to stations and the track was energised, enabling the start of dynamic testing with the first test passenger train travelling the length of the extension. In the summer of 2021, trial operations began with LUL operational and maintenance staff getting familiarised with the NLE.

The project has been a force for good in London and further afield, having employed 79 apprentices and 159 previously unemployed people. The team also engaged with local communities, including 115 engagements with local schools, reaching over 3,000 young people, and providing 1,629 days of work experience. Subcontracts on the project were issued far outside of London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “After years of hard work, I’m delighted that we’re able to open the Northern Line Extension today and it was great to have the chance to travel on one of the first trains between Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station. This extension will hugely improve the links between these vibrant, growing south London neighbourhoods and the rest of the capital, and will also help to support thousands of new jobs and homes as we move forward with London’s recovery from the pandemic. The new stations are beautiful, and I encourage Londoners and visitors to start using the Northern Line Extension to get around and help them enjoy everything the capital has to offer.”

Karl Goose, UK Managing Director, Ferrovial Construction: I am incredibly proud of the legacy this project is leaving behind in terms of job creation, apprenticeship programme and outreach work with local schools and community. This demonstrates the added benefits that key infrastructure programmes bring to both the local community and wider areas through job creation and improved connectivity – all of which help drive the economy forward.

The success of this project proves once again the ability of Ferrovial Construction to deliver truly complex rail infrastructure projects, which in turn, further builds upon our previous successes and strengthens our position in the industry as key partner for our clients, delivering projects to time, quality and budget.”

Luis Rallo, Deputy Project Director, Northern Line Extension: “I am extremely proud of what has been achieved on a number of levels. The past 7 years has seen a phenomenal level of collaboration between us as a joint venture, with our client TfL, and with our supply chain. The integrated approach to building this project has been such that we complete the scheme today on time and on budget. I would like to thank every single one of our excellent professionals who have worked tirelessly to deliver the tunnel works, the track, the stations and all of the related legacy work. We have had clear, joint objectives which have ensured the safe and successful completion of this complex transportation system project, even throughout the pandemic. An important element of this project has been the development of our people, and the access to opportunities. I truly believe that those who have worked on the project will go on to greatly benefit the industry with the knowledge and experience gained on the Northern Line Extension.

Major construction works started on the project in November 2015, with excavation and construction of the 3km twin rail tunnels starting in March 2017. To excavate and line the tunnels, FLO used two 304-tonne tunnel boring machines and installed over 20,000 precast concrete tunnel lining segments. In total, 850,000 tonnes of excavated spoil were transported away by barge on the river from Battersea. The spoil was deposited near Tilbury where it was repurposed to create arable land. Using the river kept 47,000 lorry movements off the roads, avoided 2,600 tonnes of C02 emissions and reduced the risk of accidental harm to cyclists and pedestrians.

Health, safety and wellbeing was paramount on the project and our commitment to it culminated in the NLE winning Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold Awards for four consecutive years. Mental health was a large part of the project’s overall wellbeing approach with high profile events led by Ruby Wax and Frank Bruno, addressing the entire project personnel on world mental health days.


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