Posts Tagged ‘blackwall tunnel’
Amid the row over Greenwich Council’s dumb Bridge The Gap campaign, a little opportunity to improve cross-river links is looking set to be squandered. Ever one to leap on board a passing bandwagon, this website is today launching an “all-out” campaign to extend the 108 bus to the Olympic Park.
You what? I’ll explain. Transport for London’s launched a consultation on which buses should run into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when people start moving in later this year. It suggests seven services, including a night bus, should run into the park.
All well and good. But one’s missing. Why can’t we have a bus from south of the river to the Olympic Stadium?
The 108 is one of London’s oldest bus routes – it’ll celebrate its centenary in March next year. In 1930, it schlepped all the way from Clapton to Crystal Palace, charging a shilling if you were mad enough to want to ride all the way, but there was never long to wait – double-decker buses ran every three and a half minutes through the Blackwall Tunnel back in those days.
The route’s shrunk, grown, shrunk again, gone 24-hours (a lifesaver) and been tweaked since – the double deckers vanished in the late 1960s, but the Stratford to Lewisham service has been the sole bus service through the tunnel for decades. For many years, it was the only public transport link across the Thames east of Rotherhithe. Back then, it actually wasn’t a bad service, if the tunnel was behaving itself – in the mid-90s, when I lived in Greenwich and went to college in Clerkenwell, it only took 20 minutes or so to get me to Bromley-by-Bow station so I could get a Tube to Farringdon; making it pretty much the equal of taking the train.
But while other transport links have got better, the poor old 108′s been left in the shadows – an enforced diversion around the Millennium Dome building site months before North Greenwich station opened ruined it as a commuting route to anywhere but North Greenwich, but despite the idiotic transport arrangements around the Dome, it still carries healthy numbers through the tunnel each day. Remember, it’s a damn sight cheaper than the Tube.
I’ve heard loads of horror stories of endless waits for people in Blackheath who depend on it for travel to North Greenwich – they desperately need extra buses, but instead those get thrown into the schedule late at night for chucking out time at the O2. It’s time for someone with felt pens and a bus map to get to work and rearrange matters – but so far, there’s no sign of progress.
But there’s one change to the 108 that could gives us a real – yes – Olympic legacy, and might also improve the service. Tweaking the end point so it ran into the Olympic Park, rather than Stratford bus station, would still enable it to serve Westfield and the massive transport interchange there; but would also get it away from the awful traffic in Stratford, bring a 24-hour bus service from south of the river to the Olympic Park, and help us get to and from events there.
It’s a change that’d cost very little, but would make the regenerated Olympic Park feel a bit closer to us in an area that’s not been left with many physical reminders of the Olympics (especially once the mud goes).
Obviously, I’ll now be arranging a photoshoot with various pub landlords, kebab house magnates and the Stratford Westfield Massage Angels as part of my “all out” campaign to bridge this gap, but in the meantime, if you want to suggest it to TfL, head to its consultation page – it closes on 22 February.
Full details have been revealed about how next summer’s Olympics will affect roads around Greenwich, Charlton and Blackheath – with a special lane for Games traffic being installed on the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach.
As mentioned here last summer, one lane of the A102 will be given over for athletes, officials and the “Games family” – a euphemism for sponsors.
One lane of the northbound A102 will be given over to Games traffic from just north of Old Dover Road to the point where Tunnel Avenue joins the approach road between 6am and midnight. The Blackwall Tunnel itself will remain two-way, and similar provisions are being made on the A12 in east London.
Traffic signals will be altered at the Woolwich Road and the Blackwall Lane junctions as part of the scheme.
Around Greenwich Park, Park Vista and parts of Park Row and Maze Hill will become “no stopping” roads with part of Charlton Way closed to all traffic – forcing a diversion to the 53 bus route.
Between Blackheath and the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout, Shooters Hill Road will lose a lane to Games traffic while a “no stopping” route will run from there and onto Charlton Park Lane for Olympic vehicles heading to the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Road humps along Charlton Park Lane will also be removed.
Transport for London has launched a consultation into the Olympic Route Network scheme, with drop-in sessions taking place later this month. Detailed maps of what is planned are available at the TfL website: www.tfl.gov.uk/orn.
|Monday 20 June||10am-2pm||Charlton House|
|Wednesday 22 June||10am-2pm||Woolwich Town Hall|
|Wednesday 22 June||4pm-8pm||Charlton House|
|Thursday 23 June||4pm-8pm||The Forum, Greenwich|
|Friday 24 June||10am-2pm||The Forum, Greenwich|
|Monday 27 June||4.30pm-7.30pm||Woolwich Town Hall|
A quick advance warning – buried in a Transport for London release hailing “phenomenal progress” in refurbishing the southbound Blackwall Tunnel is news that it’ll be closed across the whole of Easter weekend, from the evening of 21 April to the morning of 25 April.
So if you’re expecting anyone heading south for Easter, be warned. It’ll definitely affect fans heading to Charlton v Rochdale on Easter Monday, although there are no big shows at the O2 over Easter. Other closures are planned for 10-13 June and 12-15 August, with the project set to be finished by December.
London mayor Boris Johnson has apologised after early morning workers were left stranded by the closure of the Blackwall Tunnel last month.
Bus passengers were left stuck at Canning Town station early on the morning of 11 July after services on route 108, which normally runs via the Blackwall Tunnel, terminated there because of building work inside the crossing.
They were told to continue their journeys by Tube to North Greenwich – but while the bus dropped them off at Canning Town at 5.50am, the first train was not until well after 7am.
The mayor said the bus “should have continued its journey across the river and been escorted through the Blackwall Tunnel”.
“Unfortunately, human error meant that the scheduling of the 108 bus service did not take account of the later start of the Jubilee Line on Sunday morning, hence the termination of your bus at Canning Town”.
Transport for London would work to “maintain a public transport service aross the river at all times during forthcoming weekend closures,” he added.
The next closure will be from 8-11 October.
If you don’t complain, you don’t get a result. Boris’s full letter to me is here, should you want a peek. I heard nothing from Transport for London during the six-and-half-weeks since the incident, although London Assembly members Darren Johnson, Jenny Jones, Caroline Pidgeon and John Biggs were good enough to reply to me within a week or so.
Fair play to the mayor for personally apologising – yes, that’s a real signature at the foot of the letter. I hope the incident doesn’t get repeated – not necessarily for my sake (coming back from a mate’s party), but for those who actually need to cross the river.
Olympic athletes and officials are due to get their own lane on the Blackwall Tunnel approach during the summer of 2012, under plans revealed by organisers this morning.
Several roads in Greenwich, Blackheath, Kidbrooke and Charlton have been designated part of the Olympic Route network, designed to ferry competitors, staff, sponsors and media between the competition’s venues.
Lanes will be set aside on the A102 between Blackwall Lane and the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout for Olympic traffic, along with short sections of Shooters Hill Road in Blackheath. While lanes are also being set aside on the A12 north of the river, the Blackwall Tunnel itself will not have a dedicated lane.
However, police will employ “traffic management” techniques to speed traffic through the Blackwall Tunnel as well as on the rest of the network, which comprises the Blackwall Tunnel approach Charlton Park Lane, Shooters Hill Road between Charlton Way and Charlton Park Lane, Prince Charles Road (north of Shooters Hill Road), Maze Hill, Park Vista and Park Row.
Officials say the route via Charlton Park Lane, to the shooting events at Woolwich Barracks, will only be in operation for the nine days that events will take place there.
The bulk of Olympic traffic will be expected to get in and out of central London via the north side of the river. But other local roads, including Trafalgar Road, most of Woolwich Road, Blackwall Lane, Crooms Hill in Greenwich and Academy Road in Woolwich have been designated as “alternative roads”, for use in case of problems with the main network. Officials say “minimal” measures will be needed on these roads.
Other SE London roads in the “alternative” network include Blackheath Hill, Blackheath Road, Deptford Church Street, Evelyn Street, Deptford Broadway and New Cross Road, as well as the A2 stretching out towards Kent.
I get the feeling there will be howls of anger further down the A2 at this news, and the Blackwall Tunnel Facebook group will explode as soon as the news reaches the suburbs. While I don’t see anyone begrudging free movement of athletes and officials, I don’t think anyone – whether they’re behind the wheel of a van or stuck on a packed 108 – is going to be too happy to about pausing so the head of the IOC or the chief executive of McDonald’s gets a smooth ride through the tunnel.
Much depends on how often the lanes will be closed to non-2012 traffic, and how long in each day the restrictions will last for. With both sides of the Blackwall Tunnel approach overloaded during rush hour, and further restrictions further north close to the Olympic Village (Bow Road and Stratford High Street won’t be much fun to travel around by road), it looks as if a sticky few weeks for traffic is going to be one of the more bitter pills this part of London will have to swallow for its share of Olympic glory.
Unfortunately, many of those affected may just have to lump it, rearrange things for a month, or take some time off. This might sound insultingly glib, but it’d probably be easier to do that – and free up a bit of space for those who’ll need the room on the road – than be a martyr to grumbling for a summer. That’s not really a message anyone involved in promoting 2012 is going to want to send out to people in their determination to prove it’ll be (sort of) business as usual.
Another Olympics story came out of last night’s council meeting, and it doesn’t bode well for the maturity of the debate surrounding the equestrian events in Greenwich Park. Conservative councillor Geoffrey Brighty, whose Blackheath Westcombe ward borders the park, submitted two questions to planning chair Ray Walker about LOCOG’s plans to reinstate the park after the games, and its plans to protect Roman remains. Cllr Walker declined to answer the questions, saying each was “a complex issue” and suggesting Cllr Brighty speak to planning officers.
When Cllr Brighty, who voted against planning permission for the equestrian events in March, pointed out that the planning officers could have supplied an answer for the public meeting, Cllr Walker accused him of “playing to the gallery”, insisting that planning conditions were being adhered to.
That little exchange doesn’t really give us much hope for real public scrutiny of LOCOG’s plans, especially as consultations are now limited to the usual suspects in the form of the local amenity societies.
I hope you’ll forgive the colloquial tone of this e-mail. But I’m writing about something serious, which is why I’m copying this to Transport for London customer services, relevant London Assembly members and publishing it on http://853blog.wordpress.com, as well as addressing you personally. It’s about your handling of the Blackwall Tunnel closures – and how bus passengers are meant to get around them. I know you’re an intelligent man. So I hope you will be able to do something about a dumb state of affairs.
I hope you had a good weekend. I was lucky enough to spend late Saturday night at a friend’s in Walthamstow – sat in her courtyard and enjoying the Mediterranean temperatures until the early hours. When the time finally came to leave – in the early morning of Sunday 11 July – the night bus to Stratford didn’t let me down, a 69 coming bang on time.
But it was in Stratford that things went wrong. I know the southbound Blackwall Tunnel is closed some weekends to allow for urgent renovations, causing disruption to route 108. Passengers are expected to use the Tube between Canning Town and North Greenwich, and when the Tube is closed, the buses can be specially-escorted through the tunnel.
At 5.45am*, a 108 appeared bearing the destination Canning Town – even though the first southbound Tube from there is not until 7.11am. I asked the driver how passengers could cross south of the river. “I don’t know,” he answered. With no other option to get home, I jumped on board anyway.
At Canning Town, we were turfed off and given tickets for the Tube – tickets we couldn’t use for an hour and a quarter. There were no TfL staff to be seen. Instead, it was private bus staff looking after District Line replacement bus services who got an earful from angry 108 passengers. Many of these people were supposed to be going to work – one guy I spoke to was working as a casual stagehand at the O2, for example – yet were going to be stranded for well over an hour at Canning Town instead, losing them money and putting their jobs at risk. Do you think this is fair, Boris?
I’ve lived on or close to the 108 route all my life. When the Blackwall Tunnel has been closed in the past, and when there’s been no alternative way across the river, they’ve run via Tower Bridge. If it is too late to escort buses through the tunnel, why can’t they run that way before the Tube opens on Sundays, when the traffic is light? Yes, it would add half-an-hour to the journey – but it’d be quicker than the 75 minute wait at Canning Town my fellow passengers faced.
It was luck that saw me get home – soon after the doors of Canning Town station opened, an unadvertised, unannounced early DLR train to Woolwich Arsenal appeared, from where I jumped on a Southeastern train home. Without that, I would have been stuck in Canning Town for well over an hour.
I see that the Blackwall Tunnel is closed again this coming weekend – and presumably more people will get caught out like I, and the O2 stagehand did. You place great emphasis in your speeches on helping London’s economy. The people who were turned off my 108 this morning are those who keep it going. How about doing something to help them get to work, instead of leaving them stranded in a bus station?
(* pedants’ note – according to my Oyster card record, I touched in at 5.36am, which means my timings in this letter are actually an under-estimate.)
A bit of excitement a couple of weeks ago as news reached 853 Towers of a “controlled explosion in Tunnel Avenue”. Not that anyone locally had been told, but Canary Wharf workers had been informed in case they thought the worst. Two and two were put together, and it seemed as if the silos at Tunnel Refinieries – one of the Greenwich peninsula’s great pre-Dome landmarks – were finally coming down. I had a chat with Rob at greenwich.co.uk, and discussed vantage points, not quite knowing what to expect. The 2pm deadline passed as I walked up that choking upper stretch of Tunnel Avenue, where it joins the Blackwall Tunnel approach, with very little sign of anything going on.
I met Rob on the footbridge by the tunnel’s entrance. “It’s probably going to be the little blue-…”
And the three little blue silos, almost out of sight from our vantage point, toppled over. They’re the ones on the right in the picture above. Rob captured the scene here, while here was the view from the Isle of Dogs.
Unfortunately, it’s just been confirmed that the demolition of the main silos will not be using explosives after all. Thanks to my informant for telling me… “The silos will now be demolished without employing explosives using a long reach unit which literally nibbles the concrete structures from the top down. This will be a slow uneventful process so there will be no big bang.”
The other news is that the riverside walk along there will be closed for 12 weeks from Monday 15 March to enable the demolition to take place. So we’re denied the biggest bang Greenwich will have seen since the 2006 demolition of Greenwich District Hospital’s incinerator chimney – and the riverside path for three months. A bit of an anti-climatic ending for an institution that’s loomed over Greenwich and certainly made its mark on locals and visitors alike.
Tunnel Refineries – latterly known as Amylum, Tate and Lyle, and Syral – closed in September 2009 with the loss of 150 jobs. I walked through the site about a month ago, and its distinctive whiff could still be detected. When I was growing up, that sickly-sweet smell could drift for a good couple of miles, and was pretty much ever-present on the peninsula.
The closer you got, the fouler it was, but there was something comforting about coming home after a long journey, emerging from the Blackwall Tunnel, and getting a noseful of it. Historians will be noting another break from Greenwich’s industrial past, with what’s left of Alcatel/STC at Enderby Wharf awaiting redevelopment. The warehouses at Delta Wharf also came down recently, making the west side of the peninsula a strange, barren place to be.
Sunday will be your last chance to breathe in what’s left of the Tunnel Refineries whiff. Life’s going to be very different from now on.