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Anglian Water Strategic Pipeline Alliance – Trenchless Crossings

Anglian Water set up the Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) as part of their plan to improve water resilience in the region and to mitigate risks associated with water scarcity, climate change and population growth. The £350m programme will see over 400km of new interconnecting pipelines installed to support the transfer of water across Anglian Water’s region. It is one of the biggest infrastructure programmes for a generation.


Trenchless crossings represents an important, strategic requirement for the Strategic Pipeline Alliance. Accordingly, and in line with Project 13 principles, Anglian Water engaged us as their trenchless crossing partner with a view to forming a long term, mutually beneficial, relationship and minimising the risk associated with complex crossings.

What we did

SPA have identified around a hundred locations along the pipeline where they need to minimise disruption to the surface – for example when the pipe crosses major roads, rivers, and railway lines, or to minimise impact on sensitive areas such as Wrest Park and local wildlife sites. Many of these require a form of trenchless crossing.

Our trenchless technology experts (VolkerTrenchless Solutions) are working closely with SPA to provide early contractor involvement (ECI) services to develop, optimise and standardise the approach to the delivery of the various complex trenchless crossings.

Our work consists of developing a design, value engineering, and target cost for the trenchless crossings. We are also optimising the programme to maximise utilisation of our in-house and supply chain drilling rigs, developing thorough risk assessments and mitigating any potential impact on surrounding communities, wildlife and existing services.

The construction phase has been split into four batches based on geography and drilling rig requirements and we will install over 60 drills. Our trenchless techniques involve Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) where a machine drills a hole through the ground from one side of an obstruction to the other. The pipe is then pulled through the hole.

Horizontal Directional Drilling rig on site.

Project successes

SPA is deliberately taking bold steps to adopt a production-based operating model to deliver the SPA Outcomes, promoting efficiency and continuous improvement. This has been a central part of our trenchless crossing package where the focus has been on helping SPA with their aim of moving from ‘construction-to-production.’ We have been developing, optimising and standardising the approach to the assembly and delivery of trenchless crossings to add value and drive efficiency.

We have been working with the SPA to unlock value, by working collaboratively to optimise the phasing of works and maintain flow of resources and continuity of workloads. We used digital technology to rehearse and optimise solutions before deploying to site.