It’s not a story you’ll read much about in Greenwich Time – heavens, no – but the ongoing closure of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel seems to have gone pretty much unnoticed by everyone else over the past fortnight. Which is sad, because if it was Greenwich Foot Tunnel, merry hell would kick off.
But, alas, nobody cares about Woolwich so its residents will have to lump it. Apparently the issue is with the stairwells leading down to the tunnel – but there’s no word from Greenwich Council as to when it will open again, or what’s gone wrong to force the closure.
(Down at Greenwich, the stairs are closed but the lifts are still operating – but whereas once the lifts were manned by men in uniforms, now they’re manned by geezers in casual wear on the phone to their mates. I bet the tourists love that.)
Still, at least there is an alternative in the Woolwich Ferry, but that’s also hit problems since Transport for London took it away from Greenwich Council – which had been running it for over 20 years and had done a pretty good job – and handed to private firm Serco to run with a serious deterioration in the quality of the service. (UPDATE: See this comment about the circumstances of the handover to TfL.)
I took it on Sunday evening for the first time in a long while, and was surprised how slow the service had become, with at least a 10-minute wait at the North Woolwich terminal before we set off south.
Things didn’t improve when we got to Woolwich – upon disembarking, passengers left via the right-hand lane… and we found our way blocked by a barrier which hadn’t been raised. With no staff around to lift it (and a huge queue of cars waiting behind it as traffic left the ferry), we all had to duck under the barrier – heaven knows what would have happened if anyone disabled or pushing a buggy was there. It was bad enough trying to get my borrowed bike under the barrier.
Still, with the tunnel closed and ferry struggling, at least there’s the Docklands Light Railway if you’ve the cash to pay for the fare. But who runs the DLR? Only Serco, of course…