Southeastern passengers to see 10 week closure of Blackheath rail tunnel

Services between Charlton and Blackheath will not run for 10 weeks over the summer due to repair work by Network Rail.

The tunnel linking the two stations requires extensive work between 1st June and 11th August.

Network Rail will fix leaks in the tunnel, with the structure dating back to 1849.

No trains from Blackheath to Charlton for 10 weeks

The move temporarily lifts service levels along part of the Greenwich back to six trains per hour as was the norm for many years, but they reduce back to 4tph when the tunnel reopens.

I covered forthcoming summer timetable changes on Southeastern Metro earlier this week which can be seen here.

Tunnel work

Network Rail state that the tunnel “is prone to leaks and damage from water which filters through the ground above into the tunnel. While the tunnel is safe, the wet conditions are damaging the track and electrical equipment, which has caused around 1,000 minutes of delay to Southeastern customers in the past year.

“Over the course of the entire programme of works, Network Rail will replace tens of thousands of bricks damaged by the freezing and thawing of rainwater and install a new concrete tunnel lining to stop water leaking into the tunnel, which will be crucial for the reliable running of the railway long into the future.”

Inside the tunnel. Courtesy Network Rail

A number of images sent by the company shows issues within the tunnel that need to be rectified.

David Davidson, Network Rail’s Kent route director, said: “This will be the largest programme of repairs to the Victorian tunnel in its lifetime, and while we recognise it’s an incredibly long closure, 10 weeks is still the least disruptive option for our passengers.

“The alternative would have been an entire year of weekend closures. Delaying the work into the future is not an option either as the track and equipment in the tunnel would only get worse and cause even more delays and disruption to journeys.

Tunnel work. Courtesy Network Rail

“By carrying out the repairs over 10 consecutive weeks we can work more efficiently, give passengers time to plan ahead, and deliver the reliability benefits to customers sooner.

“We’ve also chosen the summer because data shows the railway is typically quieter, and with less rainfall and drier conditions inside the tunnel, it’s much safer for our colleagues doing the work, allowing quicker progress.

Westcombe Park station sees temporary increase to 6 tph

“We’ll do as much work as possible this summer, however, we expect that further work will be needed next summer. During this closure, engineers will use a specialist industrial hoover with a huge wire brush to clean away the soot which has built up over nearly two centuries of use, so that we can inspect the brickwork more thoroughly and identify where repairs are needed.

“We’re really grateful to passengers and are working closely with Southeastern to make sure everyone understands the changes and impact to their journeys, and if further work is needed, we’ll engage closely with stakeholders and passenger groups.”


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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.

2 thoughts on “Southeastern passengers to see 10 week closure of Blackheath rail tunnel

  • Well thank god they ARE repairing it, and not just shutting it permanently. I can see us returning to those times if it carries on this way.

  • The tunnel closure will also affect trains from Dartford and Gravesend via Woolwich. People along that route will have to get to Slade Green for the workaround.


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