Preliminary work on the Silvertown Tunnel has become more apparent in recent weeks on the Thames beside Greenwich.
In addition, a number of further planning applications have been submitted to Greenwich Council and uploaded to the authority’s planning portal last week.
With other public transport projects such as a Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham and DLR extension to Thamesmead slipping from a slim chance to almost none given current financial strain, the tunnel continues on.
Mayor Sadiq Khan and his Transport Deputy Heidi Alexander continue to avoid questions and have entered radio silence. Woolwich and Greenwich MP Matt Pennycook has again called for it to be stopped. Greenwich Council’s leadership say little. Greenwich council supported for many years despite very little benefit to the borough according to TfL themselves.
Other changes to be seen in future include closing car parks on Greenwich Peninsula for construction work with the removal of a number of trees. Following that is work on a new southern tunnel bore linking the tunnel to the existing road network south of the Thames causing years of disruption and closures.
North of the Thames, the tunnel portal will mainly be constructed away from existing roads causing relatively little disruption.
Links to the existing road network south of the Thames for traffic exiting the new tunnel is where many benefits fall apart – for those in Greenwich at least. More traffic is to be funnelled immediately out of Silvertown into the same roads in Greenwich that currently take Blackwall traffic which explain TfL forecasts of numerous areas of increased congestion from 2025.
Arguments in favour of the tunnel come from additional bus routes which falls apart if buses are stuck in heavier congestion across Greenwich borough – as TfL expect. Who would use buses given a choice – assuming current funding problems does not decimate the bus network in coming years?
Additional traffic will extend across Greenwich hampering routes running east-west such as the 177 which serves deprived areas such as Thamesmead, Abbey Wood and Plumstead – and further queues will extend south to Kidbrooke hampering new and existing routes serving Kidbrooke Village. The biggest increase in congestion is centred at Kidbrooke junction where thousands more homes are are planned.
It’s got to the point now that most politicians who supported for years are trying to avoid the project even exists – and hope to be higher up the career ladder when it opens. No longer their problem.
Although much of the funding cost of a tunnel is via a PFI deal to keep costs off the books, this does mean TfL are now on the hook for an increase in traffic across Greenwich borough. At a time when the authority continue making cuts to many other projects, timing couldn’t look worse – and makes a bit of a mockery of all their current PR.
TfL argue that the ULEZ will help with traffic levels – though in five years time the vast, vast majority of vehicles will be ULEZ compliant. Everything could be electric (spoiler: it wont) and increased congestion would still hit business and reliability of public transport.
They also continue to state it alleviates Blackwall queuing traffic – which as we’ve seen from their own projections mainly benefits areas north of the Thames (initially at least) and does nothing for southbound afternoon queues along the A2 through Greenwich borough from Eltham through Kidbrooke to Greenwich.