Greenwich Foot Tunnel shambles continues

After it was revealed the Greenwich Foot Tunnel was closed without warning 16 times in a month, what is Greenwich Council doing to make sure people know about any problems while it’s being refurbished?

There’s clearly the will in the press office, which runs its Twitter feed and has been using it to update people since my original post in November – but how closely is the rest of the council monitoring what’s going on beneath the Thames?

Thursday lunchtime, and someone tries – and fails – to use the tunnel…!/smalltown2k/statuses/20450028883550209

A short while later, the council pops up:!/Greenwichcouncl/statuses/20477517727006720

Which prompted these responses…!/the_penfool/statuses/20483135527460864!/smalltown2k/statuses/20487460760846337

Ooops. The council’s press office responded…!/Greenwichcouncl/statuses/20526049875992576!/smalltown2k/statuses/20544824880922624

It was also closed around 1pm, it appears. So what happened?

On one level – and I can’t emphasise this enough – this exchange is a good thing, because the council is engaging with the public and through that, it’s discovering something has gone wrong. If nobody had done that, the council may well have been none the wiser.

On another level, though – just what control does Greenwich Council have over what is going on in that foot tunnel? If the council’s highways department doesn’t even know when it’s closed, how is everyone else meant to find out? It also makes me think back to that closure in November, when one lift operator turned up only to discover he wasn’t needed, and a cyclist told me he was sure other lift operators were in the habit of shutting it down early.

These sudden closures will hopefully not last long into the new year – work on the stairwells is due to finish during January, when work will begin on replacing those lifts. But between now and then, tunnel users will just have to take their chances…

Official information on the foot tunnel closures can be found on the Greenwich Council website. A recorded status message is also available on 020 8853 2988, although this has not been updated for three weeks.


  1. I tried to cross the river at Greenwich around 1pm. The notice on the locked iron door said ”lift failure, engineers called.” A return cycle trip from Deptford to Canary Wharf turned into a 23 mile ride, via Tower Bridge and back on the Woolwich Ferry, where there was a 15 minute wait because there was only one boat working. And, of course, the Woolwich foot tunnel is closed until at least March, so there was no other way over.

    It’s a good job I wasn’t pressed for time – I was mainly out for a bit of cobweb displacement so I’d ”popped out” to Waitrose for a jar of Tewkesbury mustard (perfect for my favourite vinaigrette…). Still, I did see a hare run across my path in the wastelands of east London, which was a first for me. Curious though, hares outnumbering working foot tunnels in the capital city.

    (I’ve just noticed that it’s snowing on your blogpost – I hope it’s not the wrong kind of snow…)

  2. Marmoset – thanks for the additional confirmation. I’m not sure I could tell a hare from a rabbit – you can definitely see long-eared creatures on the Thamesmead riverside path.

    Thanks Stonemuse, the same to you (the snow comes free from the site owners…)

  3. Closed again today (2:30pm). Not so much as an apology or advice on how to get across the river. Nobody seems to be bothering about this and if the Council let the contractors get away it, they’ll bother even less.

  4. pathetic pathetic pathetic

    engineers fix lifts, then they break hours later. lifts that go up one floor, down one floor …and thats it. Run by an attendent. What could go wrong?

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