Return of the Silvertown Tunnel: Time to fight Boris’s toxic tunnel

12 comments

  1. Steve

    We have a direct view over the A102 approach to the blackwall tunnel and the congestion has increased hugely in the past 4-5 years. The worst congestion is routinely on a Sunday afternoon where traffic is at at near standstill from around 3-6pm (often later), and far worse (slower moving and longer congestion period) than in the morning commuter times.

    Being someone who has used the Blackwall tunnel at various times of the day, I would put the better morning circulation down to commuters knowing how to use the new 3 lane entrance, whilst Sunday drivers believe it is an HGV only lane, so force themselves into the middle lane early slowing down the traffic flow.

    I support improvements in public transport (Crossrail and the potential Bakerloo extension are positives) but it is clear that something needs to be done to alleviate the congestion (which causes most pollution) in the area, and I would support the construction of a second river crossing to assist in this. Doing nothing will not improve congestion, unless the blackwall tunnel is tolled, but that would push more traffic through Greenwich for the Rothehithe tunnels and bridges, which would make matters far worse.

    If there are other ideas for easing congestion in the Peninsula I would be interested to hear them. Obviously the construction of the new Ikea is not going to help either.

  2. Darren

    Steve, I think the problem with attacking conjestion directly at the tunnel is that it will attract further traffic and the tunnel mouth is not the only bottleneck in the system. Kidbroke particularly cannot cope at present and this scheme would only exacerbate that. If there is a solution that involves additional roads then I believe the Thamesmead bridge is it.

  3. John

    With 10,000 homes being built on the peninsular, with most likely a large proportion of residents working in Canary Wharf, I would be more interested in a foot/cycle bridge from North Greenwich to Canary Wharf.
    As they’ll never get all those people into the wharf and central London for 9am on the Jubilee Line only.
    Maybe you could have a £1000 one-off levy on new properties to help pay for it!!

    And to reduce congestion so you don’t need new tunnels, introduce a tax on workplace parking places.

  4. Sven Ellis

    Not just potty in theory but potty in practice. Immediately to the right of the mock-ups are the on/off slips for Blackwall Lane. There would have to be restricted accesses to prevent too much crossing going on, and heaven knows how they think they can maintain a route to Silvertown as soon as Blackwall bungs up.

  5. GreenwichFan

    It always baffles me that people are so determined to drive that they would take a car through the Blackwall Tunnel every day. Every morning by 7:30 am there is a queue stretching the entire length of Blackwall Lane, and it must take these cars a minimum of 30 minutes to get to the other side, and that’s on a good day. Some of those are obviously trade vehicles, but the vast majority are just single person cars. Has anyone tried to find out where they are going from/to, and why they don’t use some form of public transport, or park-and-ride? Once we understand the problem, i.e. where routes are needed, we might be able to think of the best solution.

    This also affects the 188, 422 and 108 bus routes who share the roads. And the DLR/Jubilee Line/mainline trains in the mornings are already very congested. It might be that the public transport in SE London that is on offer is just not appealing or extensive enough for people to get out of their cars.

  6. Steve

    Darren – I don’t necessarily support another tunnel by the blackwall tunnel (appreciate posting here might have suggested that) but rather a new river crossing being built to alleviate congestion. You’re right that Kidbrooke is another major bottle jam, and I have always preferred the idea of linking the North and South Circular roads, which I understand is what the Thamesmead bridge would effectively do.

    John – road improvements should be paid for by the motorists who use them (not the residents who are unfortunate enough to live in congestion areas – a developer being levied with a £1,000 charge will simply have to pass this cost on to the buyers) so any new crossing should be paid from road taxes or if unaffordable by a toll crossing. This was a very effective way of building the Dartford bridge, which reverted into public ownership once the private sector was repaid its costs. As for the cycle/foot bridge, I simply don’t see that being used – a majority of people where I live (Greenwich Millennium Village) queue for buses in the morning to take them to the North Greenwich rather than walking just the 10 minutes to the station. Even if you assume, optimistically, that 30% of those are only going to Canary Wharf, I just don’t think you’d change behaviours from the current level to convince them to walk to work over a bridge, which would probably take 30-40 minutes. (And the number of residents in GMV are just a drop in the ocean in terms of overall commuter numbers in SE London) Ultimately the roads can’t take more bikes without a significant increase in cycle lanes. The Greenwich foot tunnel already exists, and I don’t think that is particularly well used, or certainly not enough to justify the cost of building another footbridge/tunnel, and pedestrians / cyclists are unlikely to accept a toll charge in the way motorists would. The cable car was possibly a missed opportunity in this respect though, although with the Jubilee line would people really have taken the cable car to work instead?

    GreenwichFan – you hit the nail on the head. The public transport system is already heaving at the seams, which is why I feel both the new tube / Crossrail stations are needed in addition to another river crossing. Also, with improvements in fuel efficiency and the electric car industry gathering pace, the pollution aspect (of driving at least) is likely to improve significantly over the next generation. In my experience most commuters, who have it as an option, will nearly always take public transport as the commute then becomes a productive part of their day or a time they can read the paper etc.

    I find the whole debate really interesting, and feel it needs an overall solution combining many things, rather than just one new crossing. But a new crossing is definitely part of it in my opinion.

  7. John Norman

    Steve- I was intending the £1,000 fee for new properties in the Greenwich peninsular to be passed on to the new residents. Not to finance the road, but to finance the bridge. You move there you contribute to the congestion you cause. You are correct – I am amazed by the number of people who block the bottom deck of the double decker bus (they dont want to go upstairs), who go two stops to GMV. I guess these people have season tickets and therefore don’t walk. If you didn’t need to get on any transport – i.e. a bridge, you wouldn’t have a ticket and then walk.
    – Also its pretty barren up there at the moment. More buildings with shops (if there will be any) will mean more people around, therefore a more pleasant walk home.

    I dont think you have used Greenwich Foot Tunnel recently. 5 years ago, yes it was a very empty place, but now is chocka full of lycra clad cyclists mowing down unsuspecting tourists as they shoot through the tunnel.
    – I am normally one of these cyclists (who walks their bike) – but recently I have been working late, and I don’t like to use the foot tunnel late at night – so I get the Jubilee line (security cameras that work – yeh right!!).
    Also I have spoken to many people who said they would cycle if they could avoid the foot tunnel.
    b.t.w it takes me 30 mins to walk from East Greenwich to the dome – If there was a bridge it wild take me 40 minutes to walk to work, prob 10 minutes by bike.

  8. Annie

    @John Norman “Steve- I was intending the £1,000 fee for new properties in the Greenwich peninsular to be passed on to the new residents. Not to finance the road, but to finance the bridge. You move there you contribute to the congestion you cause. ”

    This I totally disagree with. People need somewhere to live. London is a growing city and the reality is that there will be more buildings, more people, and more roads/transport links. A great way to ensure that no one wants to move to Greenwich is to randomly lob fees at new residents for daring to try and find a home for themselves and their families.

    And to second Steve, the majority of residents in the new build developments in Greenwich borough commute by public transportation to work, and therefore have nothing to do with the congestion through the Blackwall Tunnel during weekdays. Let the people who actually use it at these peak times pay for the cost. The rest of us on are on the train, Tube, or DLR.

  9. Steve

    Annie, absolutely agree – congestion charging doesn’t operate in Central London by ‘taxing’ the people who live there, but rather by charging the people who drive there who cause the congestion. Ditto with the Dartford bridge, which was tolled to pay for its construction. There’s no reason this should be different for Greenwich.

  10. Kate

    Someone asked where people go to and why they use cars not public transport. There are many parts of east London, Essex and surrounding areas that are far easier and quicker to get to by car via the Blackwall Tunnel. Just a couple of guidelines using google maps – used the Blackheath Standard as a general start point. Car to Hackney 24 mins; public transport 1hr 10 mins involving 2 different buses and an overground train; Car to Stansted Airport 45 mins; public tranport involving bus and then National Express coach 1hr 30mins.

    Many years ago I lived in SW London where there are many bridges for cars and cyclists. I believe we need another road crossing (with a safe cycle lane) and the key question is where best to put it, not just in terms of what it would cost (which I believe to be the only consideration with current planners) but the air quality issue as well. Is air quality even measured these days near the Tunnel or other major arteries in SE London?
    I’m against Silvertown due to where it is and the fact that it’s a tunnel. I cannot see cyclists (let alone pedestrians) being allowed through a tunnel crossing.

  11. Niall

    “I cannot see cyclists (let alone pedestrians) being allowed through a tunnel crossing.”
    Rotherhithe lets both, not that it’s very pleasant given the air quality, or safe given the general non-compliance with the speed limit. Surprisingly warm in winter though.

  12. Shivanee

    As a non-driver but living on the Peninsula, I’m pretty neutral on Silvertown. I only use public transport and mostly walk to N Greenwich as I hate standing around but always get the bus home – after all, I pay enough for my Oyster card so I want to get max out.

    Even I recognise there are some places that aren’t suitable for travel by public transport. Frustratingly, nearby Billingsgate Fish market being one of them. Which leads me on to the point, not everything must/ should be about cyclists (or even pedestrians like me). Tradies and businesses need to get around – how else do you think the food & stuff gets into shops and restaurants? Though I can’t understand the pollution problem with an underground tunnel? Isn’t this common in other countries? I used to quite enjoy going through the Sydney Harbour tunnel which was always fast, as fun and less clogged than the overhead bridge.

    Also, rather interesting that someone thinks new Peninsula residents should fund a (nice but useless) footbridge to Canary Wharf as they congest the tube, just so that they can they can get a nicer cycling route?! Anyway, the tube packs out before Greenwich because of the Essex/Stratford connection so Crossrail should relieve – and btw, a footbridge is unlikely given river boats and cruise liners.