News

Greenwich South Lift Failure
Fogwoft have asked questions of Greenwich Council about the extended south lift failure in Greenwich foot tunnel. The answers are given unexpurgated below with our questions in bold.
We make no comments as yet except that this comes after a time when lift service was comparatively good and the problem appears to have been caused by an action by the fire service. Fogwoft also noted however, at the time of the publication of the Wilmoth report (2013), that problems may recur and could be due to an original overdesign of the lifts especially of their doors.
We will be asking for further information after the current problems have been resolved.

1. a time schedule for completion
I am sorry I am unable to provide this. As you’ll have seen from my email to Cllr Smith the over-winding caused a range of damage. This could not be fully assessed until the scaffolding was erected within the shaft (which in itself was a major exercise) allowing the lift to be released. Thankfully the lift cables were not damaged, as first feared, but damage to the top of the car needs several replacement parts which are not stock items. These are therefore on order from the German supplier. A technician is on standby to fit these parts as soon as they arrive.

Following the parts being fitted some further work may still be required but that won’t be known until the lift is moving. I can assure you we are pressing the various parties hard to get the lift back in operation as soon as practicably possible.

2. whether costs will delay any completion or if the repair is under warranty
The damage is due to over-winding of the manual lifting gear and is therefore not something that is covered by warranty. We are taking a number of steps to try and avoid a repeat including:
· Following up our earlier communications to the London Fire Brigade to explain the situation and
· Seeking a meeting and arranging a training session with key members of the LFB to ensure a future repeat is avoided
· Reviewing the call out procedures. The lift contractor is required be on site within one hour of call so in most circumstances issues would be dealt with by expert engineers familiar with the tunnel lifts and there should be no need for the LFB to attend site.

3. an assurance that the cause of the problem will not affect both lifts in future
With the above steps a repeat of this should be avoided.

4. whether a preventative maintenance schedule can, and will, be put in place to avert future major disruptions
There is already very frequent planned preventative maintenance. This includes scheduled monthly maintenance shut downs of each lift to replace parts on a pre-planned basis, service the equipment and complete safety checks. I am confident that our maintenance regime is “fit for purpose”. However if operational experience identifies additional maintenance that would make the operation more reliable/better for users we will, of course, give proper consideration to adding it to the regime.

5. whether such major lift failures will not result in the closure of the tunnels per se.
There are no plans, and I cannot foresee a situation, where a lift failure would result in a closure of one or both tunnels save for the most extreme event that requires the tunnel to be temporarily evacuated.”

July 2017

Greenwich to Consider New Bye-Laws for Tunnels

Fogwoft have examined the Draft (for GFT only) collectively. We welcome the key changes, the new realistic level of fines and the relaxation of some banned activities by the use of written (or licence) permissions by the Council (acoustic music can be humanising).

Now is not the time to suggest detailed edits. There will be time for all after Council Cabinet (12th July) for consultation. Nor is it time to look forward to the renewal of the Movement Management Scheme (MMS) and its operation under the new bye-law. The enforcement of any bye-law is critical and difficult, but we hope you can discuss the operations before the bye-law comes into force. We expect this not to be before 2018. Before then we recommend a full, best public discussion, of all these operations and would be keen to participate.

One major point that did strike us, however, was the definition of “vehicle” in Clause 3. This omits many forms of wheeled device whose use can be problematic in the tunnels. Skateboards, Scooters, Roller-blades* and -skates, Segways, and devices yet undreamed of should be covered. So should unicycles, perhaps by changing “bicycle” to “cycle”. (One of our committee just happens to be a unicyclist). Cl. 3 appears to ban any of these from being carried through the tunnel as well as being ridden. We won’t suggest an amendment, since the lawyers must have some form of wording, but recommend that “vehicle” should be defined up top.

We also suggest that, if the use of wheeled devices is to be permitted anywhere, its boundaries should be absolutely clear. That, we think, should only be between any signage permitting such riding. The bye-law itself may not be the place to write this in (since you may want it to be flexible) but the publicity campaign should make it clear. We should remember that fogwoft called for a suspension of the MMS because it was sending wholly unclear messages to tunnel users. Please let’s avoid that in future.

The proposed new bye-laws and a comparison with the existing may be viewed here; go to page 152 following.

July 2017

How many people are using the tunnels?

Usage data for both the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels (GFT and WFT) are shown in the tables below.  The data should be treated with caution since collection and analysis methods differed over time.  Manual part-day counts gave way to automatic counts and wholly manual analysis to electronic.  The data here is scaled to 24 hour 2 way flows.  The new CCTV gives night time data which can be used to scale up part-day counts.

The data distinguishes between pedestrians and cyclists.  This is how it’s presented here although some of the earlier manual counts differentiated more finely (such as between pedestrians with buggies, wheelchairs etc.).  Fogwoft is exploring whether the CCTV data capture may distinguish between walking and riding cyclists.

Usage growth since 2012

The longest time period is for weekday use of the GFT beginning in 2009 and ending (as all the data does) in 2016 (Sept).  The graph below shows the results.  Interpretation should be cautious but some simple lessons may be drawn:

  • Usage seems to have recovered from the refurbishment disruption (2010-2014)
  • Since 2012 pedestrian traffic has grown fastest (about 40% a year)
  • Cyclist traffic has grown about 15% a year, and total usage about 30%
  • The high pedestrian usage in August 2014 may well just reflect peak tourist season

Data for GFT weekend and all Woolwich use only begins in 2014.  We should treat these figures with even more caution, but so far:

  • GFT Sunday use has grown about 10% a year
  • WFT weekday and Sunday use has grown at less than 10% and about 20% respectively.

Demand to cross the river is growing fast, on foot or by cycle

Whatever the likely data errors, these results appear to point to high growth, especially on weekdays for the GFT.  Comparative data for 2017 may confirm this and will be available after September.  If it confirms these trends then there is clear evidence of high and growing demand for people to cross the river with or without bikes.  All those engaged in transport planning should take note of this and respond with better infrastructure for walkers and cyclists.

Growth of Usage in Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels to 2016

Total 2 Way 24 hour Flows

Greenwich                        Peds      Cyclists Total                  Woolwich            Peds      Cyclists Total

May-09 Monday               1972       1612       3584

Sep-09  Wednesday        2707       1676       4383

May-12 Monday               1348       1187       2535

Sep-12  Wednesday        1739       1535       3274

Feb-14  Wednesday        1729       1576       3485

Aug-14  Wednesday        3910       1824       5734         Aug-14  Wednesday     670     314         984

Sep-15  Wednesday        2252       2160       4412         Sep-15  Wednesday      652    403        1055

Sep-16  Wednesday        3873       1878       5751         Sep-16  Wednesday      804    459         1263

Monday May 2009 is shown for illustration only since it was based on a disrupted count

 

Greenwich                                                                                          Woolwich

Aug-14  Sunday              3385       596         3981            Aug-14  Sunday             412     139         551

Sep-15  Sunday              4438       847         5285            Sep-15  Sunday              678     149         827

Sep-16  Sunday              3873     1878         5751            Sep-16  Sunday              806     203       1009

Click here to see a graph : usage graph

 

The Trial Goes On

You will notice electronic signs in the tunnel asking cyclists either not to cycle or to behave considerately. This is part of a trial of a system that will allow slow cycling through the tunnel.

For now, the system is only being technically tried
We expect the trial to go live in early 2017

This is because Byelaw changes take a long time and the current byelaws do not allow cycling at all.

So Please

Use the tunnel considerately whether you are a cyclist, pedestrian or have a scooter or skate-board and please be patient for the rest of 2016.
After all, we have waited 115 years to be allowed to cycle in this foot tunnel.
August 2016


We welcome new projects and a new Honorary President for 2016
At its second AGM on 25 January, held in the Town Hall, fogwoft welcomed the anticipated completion of improvements to both tunnels.
These cover the long awaited “App” giving alerts of lift status, and a planned new sign in Cutty Sark Gardens interpreting the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. The Borough is leading an ambitious scheme to better manage movements in both tunnels. Some may remember that this stalled in 2014, due to lack of Transport for London funding, but is back on track to be completed this spring.
Long term fogwoft priorities include better signs, especially at Woolwich, and a better recognition of that tunnel’s location when the surrounding area is redeveloped.
Finally fogwoft honoured the designer of the Greenwich Tunnel and great Victorian engineer, Sir Alexander Binnie, by electing his great grandson, Chris Binnie, as Honorary President.
28 January 2016

New tunnel movement management project comes alive again
Fogwoft and others were briefed about the proposed “movement management system” for both tunnels at a meeting at the Woolwich Centre on 18 November. The new system will be trialled first in Woolwich tunnel, hopefully by Christmas, before being installed in the much more used Greenwich tunnel in the new year.
The system is experimental and could be a model for other short routes where pedestrians and cyclists share limited space. The design appears simple and would appear not to overload users with too much information. It’s best to see the concept as traffic lights that will reinforce when cyclists must dismount and walk because of heavy tunnel use.
Fogwoft is a partner to this project, funded mainly by Transport for London, as are the Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham. The project, when coupled with behavioural change management measures and perhaps random enforcement, could both enhance the capacity of the tunnels and reduce the friction between tunnel users.
We are certain that the system will not please everyone. There will however be a carefully-designed “satisfaction study” after it goes live. Only new purpose-built pedestrian and cycling tunnels, like that in Newcastle, would satisfy the demand for truly sustainable river crossings.
We will post more detailed news on this very welcome project when further briefed.
22 November 2015

Lift performance
Recent data from the Royal Borough and comment from us can be viewed here : Foot Tunnel Lift Performance 2014-15

 

Fogwoft talks to the Royal Borough again
Fogwoft members, Mary Mills, Ian Blore and John Philips met with Tim Jackson and Mark Hodgson of Greenwich to discuss tunnel management. This followed a hiatus after the failed bid to TfL to install an experimental cycling management system in both tunnels.
The meeting ranged over reports on traffic counts and lift performance (which we will soon post on this site) to the proposed remote lift alert system and tunnel maintenance and signs.
The new remote lift status alert system should be active in 2 months. It will consist of a simple webpage available on any internet device, plus a twitter feed which will alert followers of any change in lift status. We hope to be involved in the trials, and whole-heartedly welcome the initiative. It will, at least, save some wasted journeys for tunnel users.
We agreed that the benches in the Greenwich tunnel, continually vandalised, not be replaced but asked for better masking of the scored graffiti on the wood panelling of those lifts.
A new sign outside entrances, perhaps to both tunnels, was discussed which may help tourists distinguish them from public toilets, and would contain heritage information. Another sign on the bomb damage part of the Greenwich tunnel was raised. There was agreement however to keep the space uncluttered as far as possible.
Stop Press
Fogwoft have heard that discussions between the Borough and Transport for London, to fund an experimental system to manage the increasing traffic in the tunnel, have been successful. The scheme will be fleshed out in consultation with us. It will however try to control cycling when many are using the tunnel but allow it when there are few users. We’ll keep you posted about this on this site and on twitter. We have agreed to be partners in the experiment. If you have strong feelings please send us an email.
Ian Blore, 1 June 2015

Woolwich south lift down for 8 days in August
The south lift of the Woolwich tunnel was out of action for 8 days (8 to 14 August) due to serious vandalism of its doors. We have called on Greenwich Council again to warn us early of serious outages for whatever reason. We have also asked for serious discussions about the use of the revamped CCTV systems in both tunnels. Could we also ask the public to either tweet or let us know about lift breakdown?
The serious outage at Woolwich marred a good month for all tunnel lifts as the most recent report of the Council shows.
Ian Blore, 2 September 2014

Both lifts working at Woolwich
On Saturday, 31st May, a group travelled through the Woolwich Foot Tunnel using the new lifts. They then took the Woolwich Ferry to admire the refurbished roofs and the lack of hoardings and scaffolding. New lights now need to be installed and the tunnel deep-cleaned. But everyone was relieved that, after nearly 5 years, the tunnel is working again.
Ian Blore, 5th June 2014

End of refurbishment works in sight
The scaffolding is now coming down at the Woolwich Tunnel and both sites are starting to be cleared. The Woolwich North lift went into service at the end of last week without incident, and the South lift there should be operating next week.
The green of the pre-patinated copper roof may look a little too green, but it’s as agreed as part of the listed building consent and the roofing contractor assures us that it will tone down a bit over the next few months.
At Greenwich the lamps in all the emergency lights (the ones with a little green LED in them) need to be replaced by warm lights. There are about sixty to do. The mix may look a little odd to start with but after a year should be getting close to a uniform light colour.
Static signage is going up at both sites except the lift status indicators, and a tunnel wash is scheduled in the Greenwich tunnel for next week. There has been some slippage in timing, of about 4 weeks in total. With the exception of the lighting at Woolwich (which has only just started) the works are coming to an end. We can all breathe a sigh of relief and move onto the next issues, which are those of considerate use and the visual enhancement of the tunnels.
Ian Blore, 24th May 2014

New lights are now being installed in the Greenwich Tunnel
The lights are being completed in sections from the north to south and will limit traffic through the work areas to single file during the works. The first section of new lights are bright white lights; the second section lights will be softer.
Could you comment which you prefer? We are in dialogue with the Borough Council about possible adjustment if the new lights are considered too bright or harsh. First, though we’d like your views. Post them on the blog or send us an email.
Ian Blore, Sec., Fogwoft

Stairwells Closed at Greenwich Tunnel
Both north and south stairwells will be closed for about 2 weeks between 8am and 3.30pm on weekdays. This is to allow the painting of the stairwells with least disruption.
Let us hope the lifts do not fail during this time.
Ian Blore
14th March 2014

Tunnel Refurbishment Works Programme
(January- April 2014)

In outline, this is the programme the Royal Borough provided us with and is working to. It would be helpful if users could send fogwoft details if the programme appears to be behind schedule.

Woolwich – lifts
‘First fix’ complete by 2nd working week in January – final works / testing & commissioning to follow completion of roof installation (so lifts will appear to be installed but not working for two months or so)

Woolwich – roofs
Installation to start as soon as possible after Christmas. 12 week programme for each

Greenwich North – rotunda roof
To start immediately after Christmas. Basic 5/6 week installation period

Tunnel lighting improvements
Final programme to be agreed; works can be done without closing tunnels (pedestrians and bikes will need to be in single file past rolling secured works area), complete by April over about a 5 week period

Other Mechanical & Electrical Works
To be undertaken without tunnel closures

There are two areas remaining for instructions – one is remedial painting to Greenwich shafts and the other is around the final form of the remote alerts / info system for the lifts.