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.
New lights are now being installed in the Greenwich Tunnel. They 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
Woolwich Tunnel Works Inspection
On the 10th of January Mary Mills, John Phillips and Ian Blore of fogwoft joined Mike Neill as well as Tim Jackson and Steve Pallett of the Royal Borough to inspect the refurbishment works at Woolwich Tunnel. Lifts are the key in this tunnel, it having been without either lift for several years. In the south shaft the lift motor installation is complete and lift construction, all of it in situ, well advanced. All the tunnel lifts are custom-built though the Woolwich lifts will have steel doors with glass panels. These should be more resilient and will certainly be much lighter than the eye-catching but problem-prone glass doors at Greenwich.
Work has well underway on the north lift but attention has now switched to the reroofing of both entrances since neither lift can be opened until those are complete. The Woolwich entrances, unlike those at Greenwich, are not glazed but are wooden, clad in copper, supported by steel frames. Works are on schedule and when finished will allow both lifts to be commissioned and opened. The target finish is still April.
The tunnel itself is longer and wider than its sister in Greenwich. Its appearance is better though it too will be cleaned and lighting improved. Again the lighting will be increased from 40 to 150 lux which we were assured is in line with other foot tunnels. The lux scale is logarithmic so the planned increase is more like a doubling of ambient light than a quadrupling. It was accepted that, if considered too bright, the lights could be turned down and all should be soft (as in Greenwich) rather than hard white (as in Woolwich).
It is always surprising that a steady trickle of people use the tunnel, when there is the ferry alternative, even on a cold wet January afternoon. Let’s hope for even greater use when those Victorian stairs can be by-passed.
Ian Blore, 11th January 2014
By Francis Sedgemore
Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels members Mary Mills, Ian Blore, John Phillips and I were yesterday given a hard-hatted tour of the Greenwich foot tunnel refurbishment works. Our host Mike Neill explained clearly and in considerable detail the process currently underway, and spoke about structural engineering issues, tunnel wall tiles and the electronic switching mechanism for the lifts. Interesting to note is that some of the work is ahead of schedule, namely the glazing infrastructure in the north cupola.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel – inside the south cupola (photo: Francis Sedgemore)
One point highlighted during the tour is the environmental sensitivity of power electronics in comparison with the electro-mechanical switches used in the original Victorian era tunnel lifts. Modern switching systems are wont to complain about the weather, and refuse to cooperate unless the conditions are just so. This would explain at least some of the frequent lift failures experienced in recent times. Air conditioning and ventilation are crucial, but this is an engineering challenge given that they have to be built around listed historic structures.
One complaint that is often made about the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels is the dim lighting. In the case of the Greenwich tunnel, the light intensity is currently 50 lux. With the planned two rows of lights along the length of the tunnel, and an increase in wattage, the illuminance is set to increase to 150 lux. This is in my view too much. It will be so dazzlingly bright that it could cause disorientation for tunnel users moving to and from nighttime outside environments. We should consider this in more detail.
The only thing that for me marred the tour experience was the large number of cyclists not only cycling through the tunnel contrary to by-law, often at high speeds past pedestrians, but also riding into and out of the lifts. During the time of our tour, around 80% of the cyclists observed failed to respect the rules. By many accounts the situation is getting progressively worse with respect to cycling in the foot tunnels.
Later this afternoon, Fogwoft will be given a similar tour of the Woolwich tunnel.
On the 3rd October the south lift of the Greenwich tunnel will have been out of action for 11 days. There is a notice explaining that this is so and that the contractor is working on the problem. Lift problems seem all too frequent and we may only speculate whether those installed are adequate for the job. Let us have your views.
Our Inaugural Meeting will take place on Thursday 5th September at the 10 Centre, Tarves Way, Greenwich starting at 7.00p.m. The agenda will include acceptance of our aims, the constitution and election of officers. All are welcome. The venue is behind Greenwich DLR station at the end of Straightsmouth.