Will Greenwich Council change its stance on Silvertown Tunnel? Meeting tonight

A meeting is being held tonight at Woolwich Town Hall which campaigners against the Silvertown tunnel state could see the Labour council in Greenwich change its mind. [EDIT: There is reported to be no formal vote this week]

Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan’s deputy Heidi Alexander will be attending and some claim this is to levy pressure from the top to ensure Greenwich Councillors do not oppose the controversial tunnel.

Northern portal is some way from Blackwall

Greenwich’s support does often seem rather odd now when looking at traffic projections. Simply put – the borough loses out.

According to TfL’s own figures  for traffic and congestion, the problem of congestion will be worse in Greenwich borough once a tunnel opens given the same roads to-and-from the existing Blackwall Tunnel will be used.

TfL traffic modelling. Green = improvement. Red = worsening. Greenwich borough doesn’t come out well

North of the Thames and it’s a different story with a new tunnel portal located at a separate location to the east of Blackwall at the Royal Docks, thus Tower Hamlets sees a big reduction in congestion around the Blackwall Tunnel – though not to the east where thousands of homes are being built and a lorry park proposed.

Three tier lorry park planned by Silvertown Tunnel

The A2 through Greenwich borough sees red circles along the route indicating more congestion.

Larger version of map showing predicted congestion changes

Kidbrooke is one of the locations with the largest negative impact.

Greenwich Conservatives support the tunnel along with their Labour counterparts. One reason given was an improvement in traffic at Fiveways junction – yet the traffic prediction shows worse congestion at Fiveways.

Another reason some Labour politicians in Greenwich borough have expressed support for another tunnel is alleviating north-bound queues in the morning – though the new tunnel would be able to take HGVs which Blackwall currently cannot so pollution and induced traffic will be a factor.

Southbound traffic backs up to Greenwich most days

But even assuming it does lessen morning north-bound traffic it does nothing for southbound afternoon traffic.

4PM EDIT: Right on queue traffic has started to back up again from Falcondwood to Greenwich this afternoon. This shot below is Eltham; more traffic is to be fed onto this stretch from the new tunnel which as seen is located in a deep cutting and will not be widened.

Courtesy TfL. Traffic on right is Kent-bound

Queues are at least as long every evening as they are every morning. Supporters for a new tunnel often state traffic queues from Greenwich back to Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout in the mornings as a reason for a new tunnel in the planned location.

They don’t state queues already stretch from Falconwood back to Greenwich each evening in the opposite direction and another tunnel of traffic onto that mass of vehicles will result in greater congestion.

Even many proponents of new road crossings believe staggered crossings along the Thames at sites east such as Belvedere would be better than using the same road network as the Blackwall Tunnel south of the Thames.

Renders of DLR extension to Thamesmead – but no actual cash committed

Those who oppose new road crossings state the £1 billion to be spent would be better on public transport such as a new DLR crossing.

Proponents talk about new bus routes through the tunnel which will be welcome – though TfL and campaigners state differing numbers of buses per hour. It could amount to just two or three new routes. Given one route – the 108 – already runs through Blackwall will we see just two new services? Hardly a game changer if so. And if TfL’s own traffic projections are correct then buses (both cross-Thames and others) will be held up on approach.

Bus stuck in existing high levels of congestion

The council also did poorly out of mitigation measures. Initially there was next to nothing. After a year’s discussion they gained around £350,000. To put that into context, a small housing development in Greenwich (of which there are many) will bring more than that into council coffers through Section 106, the Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus income and the tunnel has vastly more impact.

Silvertown often seems to unite many in agreement that it’s just the wrong place for a new crossing. That is except the ruling Labour group and the Conservative opposition in the borough. Will that now change?


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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    9 thoughts on “Will Greenwich Council change its stance on Silvertown Tunnel? Meeting tonight

    • The queues are most of the day, particularly at weekends. Fumes from standing traffic are worse than moving vehicles.

      The new tunnels are part of a package that includes putting tolls in place.

      • The package was to include Thamesmead and Belvedere. Both scrapped. As for traffic what about southbound? TFL themselves show that gets worse.

        • The main problem is the switches between 2 and 3 lanes. Close off the nearside lane on the 3 lane stretches or make them bus lanes.

    • Greenwich voter here who has gone from ambivalent to against. I used to think when in queues heading across the river to east London that it makes sense and was a no-brainer. Looking at what will happen heading the other way made me think twice. It doesn’t lessen traffic overall. That’s before we consider pollution on the peninsular.

      Given all that I don’t get why many local politicians on the Peninsula support it anymore. What does a Greenwich Peninsula councillor gain from supporting? They’ll be reminded of it constantly when trucks are rolling in and traffic gets worse. If I was them I’d be looking out for my election chances let alone the wider impact. Do they challenge the leaders enough? On 853 it was reported in May this year they changed their public opposition in private and supported it. Source: https://853.london/2019/03/05/greenwich-peninsula-councillors-back-silvertown-tunnel-after-claiming-to-oppose-it/

      I’ve met some and they seem nice enough but actions speak louder than words assuming the reports are true.

    • Chris – so let me get this right, you are proposing cutting a lane to improve traffic flow?

      • Actually Chris makes sense about the lanes.
        Unfortunately poor driving standards of a number of drivers who don’t keep a safe distance from the car in front and therefore don’t allow cars from other lanes to merge in turn, means traffic build ups.

        As soon a it goes from 2 lanes to 3 lanes, drivers go in the extra lane as it’s free, only to then have to slow down and merge back into 2 rught at the last possible moment causing tailbacks.
        I see it so often!
        You see the same effect with bus lanes outside their operating hours!

        • A tunnel is needed should have been built 25 years ago after this east london needs another 3 crossings

          • Where? The location planned? If so I guess you havn’t read anything or looked at the traffic models above?

            I don’t mean to be rude but how can you look at projections (you have right?) for more queues all over Greenwich (both the town and the borough) then state this is the best location for it.

            If you’re argument is build here then hope others follow at Thamesmead and other spots then good luck with that. This will be it for 50 years.

            If your argument is build other first THEN here then that makes a bit more sense as traffic will then be dispersed – but Silvertown first? Madness and in defiance of all evidence.

            • Jo have you ever tried to get to work in the morning from south-east london over to east london the tailbacks go right back to bexleyheath at 7am try in to cross though the blackwall tunnel

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