Boris says sorry for Blackwall Tunnel balls-up

London mayor Boris Johnson has apologised after early morning workers were left stranded by the closure of the Blackwall Tunnel last month.

Bus passengers were left stuck at Canning Town station early on the morning of 11 July after services on route 108, which normally runs via the Blackwall Tunnel, terminated there because of building work inside the crossing.

They were told to continue their journeys by Tube to North Greenwich – but while the bus dropped them off at Canning Town at 5.50am, the first train was not until well after 7am.

The mayor said the bus “should have continued its journey across the river and been escorted through the Blackwall Tunnel”.

“Unfortunately, human error meant that the scheduling of the 108 bus service did not take account of the later start of the Jubilee Line on Sunday morning, hence the termination of your bus at Canning Town”.

Transport for London would work to “maintain a public transport service aross the river at all times during forthcoming weekend closures,” he added.

The next closure will be from 8-11 October.

If you don’t complain, you don’t get a result. Boris’s full letter to me is here, should you want a peek. I heard nothing from Transport for London during the six-and-half-weeks since the incident, although London Assembly members Darren Johnson, Jenny Jones, Caroline Pidgeon and John Biggs were good enough to reply to me within a week or so.

Fair play to the mayor for personally apologising – yes, that’s a real signature at the foot of the letter. I hope the incident doesn’t get repeated – not necessarily for my sake (coming back from a mate’s party), but for those who actually need to cross the river.


  1. Maybe you should try and get him to apologise for not meeting his manifesto commitment to reinstate tidal flow.

  2. Hi Darryl – great to see you got a reply, even if it was a bit half hearted. Boris should have offered to chauffeur you on the back of his push bike! I see you are also attending the London blogging event on the 25th of September – I hope to meet you there.

    All of the best,

    Hugh (AKA Arthur Pewty).

  3. Other Steve
    The southbound tunnel was used on a tidal flow basis every weekday for about 20 years until the “health and safety gone mad” people decided it wasn’t safe. Basically, morning rush hour saw three lanes going north. Two way traffic in the southbound tunnel also keeps SE London moving when they have to close the northbound tunnel. Boris Johnson pledged to restore tidal flow but has reneged on his commitment.

  4. It was the police who decided to close the contraflow, not the “health and safety gone mad” people. The Met also thwarted Boris’s plans to have it reopened, on the grounds that many people using the contraflow were driving dangerously (trying to overtake).

  5. Ah, didn’t know tidal flow existed before.

    Saying that, pop-up bollards could be used to divide the lanes and deter overtakers.

    And saying that, with the amount of traffic streaming through the tunnels, there is zero chance of anyone getting an opportunity to even try to overtake!

  6. I know it was the police who closed it in the first place but it was officers at TfL who advised Boris not to reinstate it on H&S grounds. Considering that the tunnel is chock-full of CCTV, I don’t understand why the police don’t just prosecute people who break the rules. That’s what happens in other tunnels where there is contraflow.

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