Yet more delays for Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels

Greenwich Foot Tunnel’s full reopening has been delayed once again, with users facing night time closures and no lifts until September, it has emerged.

Work on the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, which has been completely closed since last year, will also not be finished until August.

There has been no formal announcement of the delay, and there are no notices at the Greenwich tunnel to explain the latest situation to the thousands of walkers and cyclists who use it each day.

Instead, Greenwich Council has buried the news on its website, explaining the six-month delay at Greenwich is down to “additional works and problems with materials used in the repairs”.

There is no explanation for why the works at Woolwich are taking five months longer than planned.

Work on both tunnels should have finished in March, but the completion date was then pushed back to June, before being moved to August and September without any announcement.

While operated by Greenwich Council, the two tunnels are used by walkers and cyclists from across London – and particularly by cyclists from neighbouring Lewisham borough.

London Assembly transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon wrote to Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts in February asking for explanations about why the refurbishment project was taking so long. Cllr Roberts has not replied. In 2009, Roberts suggested she direct her questions to a Labour member of the assembly.

In April, the Liberal Democrat politician sent a follow-up letter to Greenwich chief executive Mary Ney – but eight weeks later, the £190,000/year council boss has also not responded. (See both letters here.)

Pidgeon said: “For four months the leader of Greenwich Council has repeatedly failed to answer any of my questions I have put to him about the fiasco of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

“Does he really think the incompetence and false promises over the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels can be swept under the carpet?

“Greenwich Council should come clean and provide a firm date for when pedestrians and cyclists can finally return to using the two tunnels 24 hours a day.

“A full explanation and apology for the delays would also be welcome.”

The £11.5m project includes repairing the tunnels and stairwells, installing new CCTV and replacing the 19-year-old lifts with models that do not need attendants. It has been beset by difficulties, including the complete closure of the Woolwich tunnel due to problems with the stairwell and almost-daily closures of the Greenwich tunnel due to lift problems.

11 comments

  1. Michele O'Brien

    It seems pretty obvious why the work is taking so long. Like a lot of other jobs up and down the land it looks likely it’s being deliberately spun out in these times of severe financial constraint so that as few workers as possible have to be made redundant. Employers want to keep their workforces intact for when better times return. Work to install a passenger lift at Blackheath station has been going on now for nearly nine months and it’s still not in operation.

  2. Ruby

    It’s really disappointing to hear the lifts at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel are not going to be reopening in June as planned. If you’re travelling that way by bike it’s a real pain to carry it up and down the stairs particularly given how narrow they are. Now that’s going to be the only option all summer especially as you’re not allowed to take bikes on the DLR.

  3. liam fuller

    Think the above comment is probably correct, it just would be nice for once if the council could give pedestrians and cyclists a bit of respect and explain why the delays are taking so long, giving a proper date for the works to be finished.
    Sneaking it out on the website isnt good enough -we haven’t had a 24hr crossing at Woolwich now for nearly a year!

  4. Chris

    ‘Problems with materials used in the repairs.’

    Intriguing.

    Does this mean the contractor used shite materials in an effort to stay within their quote for the job, or to maximise profit? If they did, then it should be the contractor that pays for the work to be re-done.

    But if the council specified the materials, then it’s the council’s fault.

    Someone is at fault here. Who? Will the contractor have to pay a fine for delivering late? What on earth is happening here?

  5. John

    The word amongst the Serco workers on the Woolwich Ferry is that the Woolwich foot tunnel won’t really be opening again until next year. So I would not hold your breath!

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