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Ground Engineering & Tunnelling (UK)

team sitting around lunch table

Who we are

As an international leading supplier of geotechnical consultancy services, AtkinsRéalis offers a comprehensive service in Ground Engineering and Tunnelling (GE&T). We are part of a global practice of over 500 geotechnical professionals with more than 300 staff based in the UK. Our geotechnical reputation is built on the skills, excellence and commitment of our people in all aspects of geotechnical engineering. We are looking to increase our team to meet the growing demands from our clients, especially in the infrastructure sector (rail, highways & water) and the energy sector which includes carbon capture & storage, renewable energy (wind, current and hydro-power), low carbon engineering and nuclear power. We are looking for staff with the drive and enthusiasm to embrace the future. We have the depth of knowledge and breadth of expertise to help you build a bright career in this exciting and rapidly evolving sector.

team sitting around lunch table

Meet Charity

Charity joined AtkinsRéalis as a graduate and has enjoyed developing her career and her passions. In this short film, she shares her day at home, in the office and on-site. “I went into a career in engineering because I really enjoy solving problems and also want to make a difference to society”.

Meet Charity

Our value

Delivering ground engineering right first time has a major impact on the sustainability, affordability and efficiency of global Infrastructure. Our staff have a reputation for innovation and adding value for our clients in different ways, for example, by transforming the efficiency of offshore wind foundations and prolonging the life of railway and highway earthworks. Our sustainability focus enables our clients to achieve ‘more for less’ and makes an important contribution to the decarbonisation of Infrastructure. Our world class Ground Engineering and Tunnelling team has a diverse range of skills and combined with our digital capability, we help our clients achieve beyond their project aspirations and in the process, we offer unrivalled career opportunities to help you become the professional you want to be.

Our markets


As one of the industry leaders, our Railway Geotechnics discipline is engaged at all project lifecycle stages including site inspection, ground investigation, detailed design and construction support

Our clients require value-engineered solutions and an important part of our work is developing automation through the use of digital tools

We are a recognised framework partner and work closely with a number of Contractors providing buildable solutions to extend the life of railway assets

We are lead designer on East West Rail Phase 2, which re-introduces passenger services between Oxford and Cambridge and covers over 70km of earthworks and the Engineering Delivery Partner on Phase 1 of HS2

Network Rail are a key client and we are actively involved with many projects across their 5 UK regions

Geotechnical expertise for our Highway clients is provided in five main areas: site assessment, design, certification, site supervision and asset management

We work with a range of public sector clients such as Highway England, the Welsh Government and Transport Scotland as well as numerous Local Authorities undertaking design services and management of geotechnical assets

The asset management side of our business covers physical inspections and monitoring as well as creating and maintaining databases of assets to enable a risk-based and proactive approach to remediation and improvement works

AtkinsRéalis also work with major contractors on the delivery of Design and Build Projects such as the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme, A9 Dualling Northern Section and A465 Heads of the Valley Dualling Section 2, covering the design of earthworks, reinforced soil structures and slopes, retaining walls and foundations to structures

We also work closely with other disciplines and can draw upon experts on contaminated land, hydrogeology, flood risk, environmental management and mitigation, heritage, landscape and tunnelling

Renewables: We have a long history of providing support both offshore and onshore for renewable technologies including offshore wind, wave and tidal, solar, geothermal and CCS. In offshore wind, we have a pedigree of over 40 prestigious and diverse projects throughout the world including UK, Europe, China, Taiwan, South Korea and the USA. Examples throughout the project lifecycle include desk study and 3D ground modelling and jacket foundation design for the St Brieuc OWF France, Concept to Detailed Design of the pre-piled jacket substructures for Beatrice OWF and design optimisation for Triton Knoll OWF which resulted £45M of client savings.

Conventional Power & Distribution: The power network and distribution is the common thread amongst the other sectors outlined above. We work closely with the likes of National Grid and others to ensure that power generated is distributed. We also assist other providers and operators in optimising or decarbonising current operations.

We provide world-class ground engineering services to enable clients to deliver excellence in their projects. Our reputation has been built up over many years by combining the knowledge of experienced staff with cutting-edge digital techniques.

UK Regulated Water: we have worked alongside most UK Water Companies in both strategic partnership roles and as Design and Build partners and have built strong relationships along the way. We have also played a leading role as detailed designers in the delivery of Thames Tideway.

Environment Agency (EA): we have a strong portfolio of projects with the EA ranging from small-scale remediation of flood defences to large complex flood risk management storage schemes. Our reputation and excellent working relationship with the EA is built on the skills, excellence and commitment of our people. This is demonstrated through the successful appointment of AtkinsRéalis to the new Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF) as a design consultant for the South Western region, where we are working closely with Kier and the EA to deliver innovative, carbon-neutral, economic solutions over the next five years.

UK Ports: we have a strong track record and portfolio of current projects working closely with our maritime clients. We are working across the port sector for private, trust and public body port owners and operators. Our involvement in the UK ports sector covers both the detailed design of new quaysides and associated assets as well as the inspections and maintenance of existing facilities. AtkinsRéalis is currently acting as a designer on behalf of contractors constructing a range of new facilities across the UK, from ferry terminals to deep water berths and land reclamation.

International Water & Ports: our team has worked on various into international Water & Ports: our team has worked on various international projects to improve the reliability and sanitation of current water supplies and to provide flood alleviation barriers. Recent projects include the Freetown Water Supply Project in Sierra Leone and the Kelani flood alleviation scheme in Sri International Water & Ports: our team has worked on various international projects to improve the reliability and sanitation of current water supplies and to provide flood alleviation barriers. Recent projects include the Freetown Water Supply Project in Sierra Leone and the Kelani flood alleviation scheme in Sri international projects to improve the reliability and sanitation of current water supplies and to provide flood alleviation barriers. Recent projects include the Freetown Water Supply Project in Sierra Leone and the Kelani flood alleviation scheme in Sri Lanka


Geotechnical expertise in the Cities and Development market supports our Clients across many segments of the built environment including residential and commercial development sectors, and the education sector and helps unlock transport-oriented development

Our expertise ranges from contributing to development appraisal and master planning through to outlining and detailed design stages of projects and construction supervision

The ground engineering team has provided invaluable support in major airport expansions including London City Airport and Gatwick Airport

The team was also involved during the ground investigations at Heathrow undertaken in support to the airport’s sustainable expansion

Oil & Gas: Over 50 years of heritage in the development of the oil and gas market internationally across the full project lifecycle (Upstream, Midstream and Downstream). Our global team of experienced ground engineering professionals work on some of the most challenging projects to ensure that geotechnical challenges and geological risks are managed.

Mining: Mining and quarrying companies frequently turn to AtkinsRéalis to provide high-end design, project management, engineering, environmental and geotechnical services for various high-profile projects. This work has frequently pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation including the recent Interpretation of satellite, aerial, UAV & LiDAR data combined with 3D, 4D & 5D ground modelling and visualisation. We are currently actively involved with both live UK new mines for West Cumbria Mining and Sirus Minerals.

We are an active Tier 1 consultant to the Nuclear new build industry in the UK at varying stages including Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C for EDF and Bradwell B (CGN) and provide services ranging from permitting and 3D modelling through to engineering delivery, design management and client side consultancy

Our geotechnical expertise in the Defence sector relies on our wide range of experience in both national and international geotechnical projects, both in defence and civil engineering

We have gained an enviable reputation in seismic and blast engineering through major projects undertaken for Defence sector clients including various seismically qualified government buildings for the DIO internationally and within the UK

Our extensive work in fields such as civil nuclear and offshore engineering provides substantial technical crossover which has enabled us to build a large team of engineers with the required specialist skills for defence projects

Our commitment to staff technical development has enabled us to push industry-leading innovations to the benefit of our clients

A number of specialist ex-services and army reserve staff are employed by AtkinsRéalis giving a first-hand insight into the requirements of the MoD

Our projects

Just a sample of the great work our team deliver on such a range of projects. At AtkinsRéalis we have the opportunity to make an impact on meaningful projects every day.

Energy – Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, Caithness Scotland
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Energy – Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, Caithness Scotland
Highways – A465 Heads of the Valley Section 2 (Gilwern to Brynmawr), South Wales
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Highways – A465 Heads of the Valley Section 2 (Gilwern to Brynmawr), South Wales
Cities & Development – Fulham Gasholder Site, London
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Cities & Development – Fulham Gasholder Site, London
Rail – Targeted Asset Management, East Anglia
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Rail – Targeted Asset Management, East Anglia
Aviation – London City Airport
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Aviation – London City Airport
Water – Arksey Riverbank Emergency Stabilisation, South Yorkshire
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Water – Arksey Riverbank Emergency Stabilisation, South Yorkshire

Our technical disciplines

team sitting around lunch table

Engineering Geology

  • Ground Investigation & Characterisation
  • Engineering Geomorphology, Geohazards and Ground Modelling 
  • Geotechnical Data Management 
  • Digital 
  • Ground Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering 

  • Foundations and Earth Retaining Structures
  • Seismic Geotechnics
  • Ground Engineering Numerical Analysis
  • Offshore Geotechnics
  • Ground Movement and Asset Protection
  • Dispute Resolution and Due Diligence
team sitting around lunch table

Transportation and Linear Assets

  • Earthworks and Natural Slopes
  • Rail Geotechnics
  • Highway Geotechnics
  • Tunnel Ventilation and Fire Life Safety
  • Tunnel and Shafts

Rock Engineering

  • Rock Engineering
  • Sprayed Concrete Lining and Rock Tunnelling
  • Underground Energy Storage

A day in the life

team sitting around lunch table

Sanduni Walpola - Geotechnical Engineer

A summer internship with the Geotechnical Team at AtkinsRéalis opened the doors for me to pursue a career in Geotechnical Engineering. My background was in Civil and Structural, so I wasn’t 100% sure what it was going to be like when I joined as a Graduate, five years ago. At first, it was almost like re-training my way of thinking - not to look for exact numbers and understanding that geotechnics often deals with natural materials in soils and rocks, with larger uncertainties. Over the years, I have found that’s the most intriguing aspect of Ground Engineering. 

One of the things I enjoy the most about my job is the opportunity it offers to be involved in varied and challenging work across many sectors ranging from rail, highway, nuclear, buildings, bridges, dams, wastewater, ports and maritime. I’ve provided design support to the geotechnical elements of Beckton STW, the largest sewage treatment plant in Europe; and undertaken a post-dredge assessment of the Camber Dock, Portsmouth for America’s Cup. 

The work varies from project to project. I’ve supported the seismic team in nuclear new build projects, which involved working in more complex numerical modelling using finite difference software and programming automation tools such as Python to assess the soil structure interactions. Whereas working on an expert witness job exposed me to a legal claim against the contractor in relation to cracking and step changes in level across movement joints in the floor slab. 

I am currently part of the Earthworks Team for Sizewell C Enabling Works, which aims to prepare the main development site for the efficient execution of the main Civils and Marine Works construction. The earthworks involve the excavation, transport, storage and placement of approximately 9M m3 of site won material and 2M m3 of imported material. I am supporting the earthworks strategy and coordination package on the cut-and-fill balance calculation for the site. Teamwork is at the heart of all the projects I have worked on with AtkinsRéalis so far; everyone is striving to deliver excellent work.

team sitting around lunch table

Craig Parry - Senior Engineering Geologist

As an engineering geologist within AtkinsRéalis, I get to work on some exciting projects that are worth getting out of bed for. They range from small slope stability assessments for residential property through to £3BILLION megaprojects such as the A9 Dualling for Transport Scotland. Since joining AtkinsRéalis in 2015 I have had the opportunity to work on a range of technical challenges but have always been drawn to geohazards and the assessment of natural slopes. 

I am part of the team working on the A83 Access to Argyll and Bute project, helping to develop a medium and long-term solution to provide resilience against natural hazards for the people of Argyll and Bute. On large, fast-paced, projects like this, I get to work with topic experts from a range of disciplines that I learn a lot from. 

One of the things I love most about my job is the fact I still get to do site work. We learn so much from putting boots on the ground (and sometimes drones in the sky) to help develop our understanding of the ground conditions and how they impact our projects. One of the benefits of being up in Scotland is that a lot of our site work just happens to be in some pretty special scenery! Even when my work is desk-based geologists are always having to use their imagination to picture what is going on in 3D, just in their head instead. 

Ground engineering and tunnelling offers great support to those with new ideas and encourage innovation and personal development. Over the last few years, I have been supported in building an aerial survey and remote sensing team within Ground engineering and tunnelling. I now get to lead a team of 14 engineers that bring value to our business and push our industry forward using new technology and non-traditional methods for assessing our sites.

team sitting around lunch table

Tom Bailey - Assistant Tunnel Engineer

A day in the life as part of the AtkinsRéalis Tunnelling team can vary drastically depending on the projects you’re working on. One day you can be in the office undertaking detailed design for some of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects, the next you can be deep underground inspecting existing tunnels or supervising construction works. 

As part of the design team on the Thames Tideway project, I often experience both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. My responsibilities include leading sections of the detailed design of many underground structures involving undertaking calculations, producing design reports, liaising with the Client and supporting site teams. Conversely, before joining the Tideway project, I was inspecting existing tunnels in London and Surrey that could not have been more different. This included two nights spent in a reinforced concrete segmental tunnel formed using a tunnel boring machine versus an afternoon in hand-dug sandstone ‘caves’ dating as far back as the 17th century. 

The Tunnelling team is an experienced and supportive group dedicated to collaboration and innovation. Being able to work on large-scale national and internal projects or smaller opportunities working directly with clients and end users, you’ll get a balanced and diverse experience. Outside of work, the team are extremely friendly and enjoy varied socials regularly.

Our leadership team

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Andrew Benson

GE&T Practice Director

Tracey Radford

GE&T Practice Manager, London and South East
Ady Koe

GE&T Practice Manager, Midlands, South West and Wales
Susan Pollard

GE&T Practice Manager, North, Scotland and Northern Ireland