Blackwall Tunnel (Supplementary) [9]

Session date: 
May 23, 2007
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Chair, I have two quick points. I am very concerned, as the Assembly Member covering the area of Rotherhithe, because there is incredible dependency on that tunnel in my community over in Rotherhithe, which is almost like an island. Rotherhithe suffers from access difficulties anyway. Dependency on the Rotherhithe Tunnel will increase when the East London Line works are underway and the tube tunnel is closed for a very long period of time - about 18 months - so sadly there will be an increase in traffic through the Rotherhithe Tunnel. I therefore make a very strong plea to make sure that if there is any thinking at all going on about changing any of the arrangements for the Rotherhithe Tunnel, that they take that incredible dependency and the future fragility of the transport system around Rotherhithe into account.

Secondly, a short question with my fire service hat on, Mayor. It has not been the practice in this country to put sprinklers in civil engineering structures like train tunnels or road tunnels, but I think that if we are looking at the safety case for road tunnels in London we should be looking at taking best advantage of the modern fire engineering solutions that there are, and not just relying on what are the, strictly speaking, legislative requirements either from the UK or Europe; I think there is much more that could be done to make tunnels safe in the event of accidents.

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Blackwall Tunnel (Supplementary) [9]

Answer for Blackwall Tunnel (Supplementary) [9]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

We have been trying to get a contract for the refurbishment of Blackwall Tunnel which achieves value for money. This process has not produced a contract that is value for money, so we are restarting the process. I will ask Peter Hendy to consider, as part of that process, whether that is the time to see if we can introduce a sprinkler system in the tunnel as part of the contract.

Given the impact that the closure of the East London Line is going to have it might be an idea if the two constituency Members - yourself and John [Biggs] - had a meeting with TfL where we reviewed all the problems there are going to be around the Rotherhithe Tunnel during this period, and start to put into the public domain the debate about the Rotherhithe Tunnel. If people are aware that they run the risk of seriously disrupting the Rotherhithe Tunnel, it might improve the road skills of the people using it. We do not want to be in a position where somebody starts overtaking, has an accident, and we are then told by the police that we can only run it one way each rush hour.