More woe for Woolwich Foot Tunnel users

Woolwich Foot Tunnel
It’s not looking good for users of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, which quietly closed about a month ago during refurbishment works, and hasn’t reopened since. Both it and its sister tunnel at Greenwich are being revamped – at Greenwich, the stairs have been closed off and travellers are directed towards the lifts, with the tunnel closing completely at night (or when the lifts are broken).

At Woolwich, the plan was to start work on the lifts – but this has been derailed by problems with the stairs, and the entire tunnel has been closed. Unfortunately, nobody knows how long for, and a Greenwich Council statement issued yesterday only sheds a little light on the mystery: “Structural weaknesses have been revealed at the tunnel, which have required us to close both the stairs and lifts at the same time. There will be no public access to the tunnel at any time until the safety issues can be resolved.”

What is worrying, though, is a public notice slipped into this week’s edition of council puff-sheet Greenwich Time – announcing the council’s intention to close the tunnel at any time to facilitate work or if there is a danger to the public. The order is for six months, and replaces an earlier one authorising the council to close the tunnel during weekday daytimes only.

With both Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels closed at night, there’s no way for cyclists to cross the Thames between the murky Rotherhithe Tunnel and the Dartford Crossing, while pedestrians who miss the last Docklands Light Railway trains have only the overnight 108 bus service through the Blackwall Tunnel to rely on (and even that’s being escorted through because of refurbishment works).

Could it be shut for months on end? A council spokesman was unable to say how long the closure could last for, but did say: “Our contractors are working to open Woolwich Foot Tunnel as soon as possible and we’ll post any details on re-opening dates as soon as they are known on the website.”

Hopefully this will be sooner, rather than later.


  1. Deptford Dame

    Sounds like it was a cock-up by the contractors. From a response sent to a member of Greenwich Cyclists: “In stripping off the existing paint and underlying corrosion to the south stairs at Woolwich the shot blasting process….penetrated the lift enclosure and fouled the lift mechanism, causing the lift to be immediately withdrawn from service.
    The current programmes indicate that the tunnel will remain closed until March 2011, although strenuous efforts are being made to re-programme the works such that the staircases can be returned to service in a safe manner before that date.”

  2. James

    SE London desperately needs new bridge crossing. The spending review today has revealed that more increases for the Dartford crossing are planned sending more traffic all the way to Blackwall.

    In a dream world (or what would happen in other developed nations that invest in infrastructure) there would be a bridge with dedicated trams as well as road capacity. The trams would run north south through Thamesmead having connections with the east-west train lines south of the river, and the DLR and district line north of the river.

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  4. antonio

    This is the 2nd time I am writing to say that unfortunately the Greenwich council website still showing the wrong information about Woolwich foot tunnel!

    @GkellyBris Hi the foot tunnel is open Monday to Friday from 6am to 9pm and Saturday from 6am throughout the weekend until Monday 9pm.

    This is completely wrong as the foot tunnel is not open at anytime of the day.

    I have checked the website on Friday afternoon to plan my journey back home only to find that when I arrived at about 20.00, I could not cross the river neither by foot or ferry and I had to chain the bike inside the cycle bay at the King George station. I had to pay (£ 4.00) the ticket to get over to woolwich to go home and the pay another ticket (£ 4.00) the next day to recover my bike the next day only to find that the wheels of my bike were stolen. (about £ 130.00)

    Thank you very much Greenwich council! Who ever has planned the closure of both tunnels at the same time without even caring of providing the right information is nothing short of an incompetent.

    I am wonder if I have any right to recover some of the losses and what’s the council resposability in publishing the wrong information.

  5. liam fuller

    Please please please can someone tell us just when is the Woolwich foot tunnel going to be open again!!!???Greenwich council website says March 2011 but I ride past it in the morning and evening each day on the way to and from the ferry and theres no sign of work finishing . Surely its not too much to ask to keep us better informed – cyclists like me in woolwich and plumstead are heartily sick of getting the ferry back and forth every day

  6. Mike Suckling

    I live in Braintree which is about 50 miles from the Woolwhich foot tunnel. When my family were much younger, about 20 years ago, we often did the bridges and tunnels of London on a Sunday afternoon as an ‘outing’ in the car.
    Both the Woolwhich and Greenwich foot tunnels became of great interest to me. The lifts were of grand design and should have been serviced and kept in safe condition for future generations to visit and use. It is a shame to find that both tunnels at present just have stair-cases that are boarded out for remedial work. You would need to ask where the lifts are and even if you knew you would not be able to view them.
    One day several years ago, with my dog, when the tunnels were open and the lifts maned and working I was mugged in the Woolwich Tunnel. All that I lost was a camara and my nerve. The police on the north of the River Thames were not really interested in even recording the incident but did ask if I could attend an identity line up at some time in the future. Nothing ever happened. So that I did not loose my nerve with the tunnels I returned the following day, with new camera and spent a long time taking photographs and going below deck on one of the ferries……… this leads to another moan but I will keep that to myself.
    These tunnels and lifts must be kept for future generations to see and most importantly to USE!!!!!!

  7. Mike Suckling

    It was very disturbing to read of a 19 year old crew member of the Woolwich Ferry Service to loose his life on Wednesday 3rd August 2011. I understand that he was executing his duties at the time. Perhaps we should all think of this as a reason to keep the foot tunnel and the Ferries in daily use.

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  9. Aussie

    Hi, from Australia,
    I am hoping to use the Woowich foot tunnel May 2012. My only reservation is how safe is it to walk in there alone?

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