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James Powner | Tunnel Engineer
25 April 2019
Tunnel Engineer James Powner talks to #insideAtkins through his role and what makes him proud to work here.
James Powner is a Tunnel Engineer based in London. He joined Atkins as a graduate in 2014 and is now working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the largest project ever delivered by the UK water industry. The ‘super sewer’ will clean up the River Thames. We’ve been working as part of a joint venture with Arup to provide a range of design and engineering services, including on the ‘West’ section of the scheme where we’re providing design, construction, commissioning and maintenance following the completion of the construction.
The enormous project has just reached its halfway point, and is currently on track for its 2024 completion target, so we wanted to talk to James, just one of the many people that have helped keep the project moving smoothly, to find out more about his role and how it fits into this wider undertaking.
At the moment, it’s a real mix. We’re currently in the construction support phase of the works and I have several varied responsibilities, from managing the commercial elements of the construction support to managing the technical elements, such as responding to requests for information from the contractor.
My days are usually split between technical and commercial tasks. Technical tasks can involve attending meetings with the contractor to discuss the specifics of an element of the construction works or reviewing the delivery programme to ensure we’re on track with design updates. I also regularly visit the construction sites that comprise Tideway West to answer any specific questions and review progress.”
I just love being involved in big and complex projects. I know that my choices can impact the success of the project and contribute to the end product. The Thames Tideway Tunnel will ensure that London’s sewers can perform for the next 120 years, as well as making sure the River Thames becomes a clean and refreshed river which enables greater use for all of London.
There’s currently a lot of focus on Tideway in the media so when friends and family ask what project I’m working on and I tell them Tideway, it’s really great to hear their enthusiastic responses. There seems to be a real interest in big infrastructure projects among the general public at the moment. Seeing things like the BBC documentaries for Crossrail (my previous project) and Tideway have helped enormously with that, and it makes me proud to be involved.
I’ve got a great view of the River Thames. I can’t wait to see how things change after the tunnel is completed.