TfL overcome Silvertown Tunnel problem and vow to press on

TfL have vowed to press on with the Silvertown Tunnel today after a contractor opposing the decision to build the tunnel agreed to relent. That allows the £1 billion PFI project to toll Blackwall Tunnel and build Silvertown Tunnel to move ahead.

This news comes days after Greenwich Council did a 180 degree turn after years of support. They joined almost every other London borough in opposing or withdrawing support.

PM queues towards Kent

Only Tower Hamlets council now support – and they gain far more than Greenwich borough according to traffic projections given the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnel portals will be located on separate roads north of the Thames.

Greenwich will see many years of gridlock as construction gets underway. The Blackwall Tunnel will see regular closures in coming years for building work.

Looking towards Greenwich Peninsula

That will last for five years. But it’ll be worth it right?

Well, not really, as south of the Thames the new tunnel will feed into the existing road network already at capacity unlike the north. Greenwich borough and the town itself will see worsening congestion after 2025 according to TfL.

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

What’s funny is every advocate goes silent when this is brought up. They never have an answer and seem to only ever think of northbound traffic.

Southbound traffic towards Greenwich borough due to rise sharply

Southbound is just ignored. This clumsy illustration below shows why impacts will be so much greater south of the Thames. Two tunnels converge south of the river on existing roads.

Traffic diffused north of Thames. Not so to south

TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan seem resolute in forcing through the scheme and continue to push the same tired lines about reducing congestion.

As seen that only applies one way – heading north but not south. The net result is worse congestion across Greenwich borough with the A2 expected to be gridlocked each evening to an even greater extent.

A2 southbound heading to Kent on 18 Oct. A common site. Another tunnel will feed onto this

On a daily basis traffic already backs up from Falconwood to Greenwich for around five miles. Another tunnel’s worth of traffic will be fed onto that.

That’ll mean solid queues for over five miles each afternoon or some radical building work down the line to widen roads which could see mass demolitions.

Oct 15th. Different day – same issue. Afternoon southbound traffic heading away from Blackwall to Kent and local roads.

But let’s assume tolls put people off (except HGVs who could divert from Dartford where tolls already exist and cannot currently use Blackwall) then will we see more drivers head to Rotherhithe and Woolwich which will remain free to use?

Avoiding tolls will see drivers head through Greenwich town centre

If they do go via Rotherhithe to cross the river and save on a toll that’s more traffic through east Greenwich and Greenwich town centre. Not great given it’s slow going almost all day every day.

Heavy traffic

And what of the ferry? Greenwich Council have asked for it to be tolled if more traffic heads east.

So ultimately there’s very little benefit to Greenwich borough according to TfL themselves who are strong advocates. All the comments from Sadiq Khan seem only to apply to east London. That may be why all the soundbites mention east London and not south east London.

Planned tunnel entrances in Greenwich. Closely entwined meaning many closures for construction

Those sitting in northbound queues right now may be happy thinking this will solve their problems – but their trip south in the afternoon will be worse.

Queues in Greenwich town centre

The World Heritage site in Greenwich will see more traffic heading to Rotherhithe which is to remain free as things stand – and even people using the Woolwich Ferry will likely see tolls.

Who wins? No one south of the river. So why did Greenwich Council support for so many years until the last minute change of heart? They didn’t get a DLR crossing nor other road crossings at Thamesmead and Belvedere to stagger traffic across a number of crossings. All eggs are now in one basket.

Renders of DLR extension to Thamesmead though nothing is confirmed. Dont hold your breath

The mitigation they received from TfL is pitiful and a fraction of what Greenwich Peninsula housing brings them despite hugely more impact. Promises of extra buses could boil down to just one additional route.

You know it’s bad when even the biggest supporter – TfL themselves – say there’s very little benefit south of the Thames and can only promise queues.

Greenwich Council have played and lost big. Now TfL will bury the area in years of disruption then years of permanent extra traffic after that – with tolls on top.

One local Greenwich Peninsula councillor and Cabinet member with air quality and transport brief – and who supported the scheme – is now looking to head east and become MP for Erith and Thamesmead.






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J Smith

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.

3 thoughts on “TfL overcome Silvertown Tunnel problem and vow to press on

  • Well perhaps Sadiq Khan has forgotten that he is up for reelection next May and nobody driving back and forth from Kent gets to vote for him. It’s all down to him now and talk of 25 new cross river bus routes won’t help when people realise there isn’t any space for extra buses in the planned redesign of the North Greenwich bus station.

    • I imagine the fury of those in Kent/Conservatives is music to Khan’s ears and a reason to continue almost alone into this insane scheme. You need only look at Chris Grayling forever stalling the transfer of the SE franchise to TFL (who really need money now) as a huge ‘up yours’ to London/Labour. With career politicians you can safely ignore Hanlon’s Razor and assume that any harmful actions are entirely deliberate.

      Besides, Khan’s made his connections now and will move on to sucker more investors on the private circuit. Anytime the diagram of southbound traffic jam shows up he’ll simply flip it upside down and say ‘you’re looking at it all wrong’. Little more than a pyramid scheme with London as the poor suckers fleeced into it.

  • I wish they’d build a bus/bike/pedestrian bridge from the Peninsula to Canary Wharf instead.


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