Have your say on the proposal for a new tunnel under the Thames at Silvertown

Closed 19 Dec 2014

Opened 15 Oct 2014

Overview

Update on 17 May 2016

For the latest information on the Silvertown Tunnel scheme please visit: www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel
 

Update on 15 June 2015

We have today published a Responses To Issues Raised Report.  This report provides answers to the comments raised during our consultation on the Silvertown Tunnel in October-December 2014.

In Autumn 2015 we be holding a further consultation on the Silvertown Tunnel, providing a major opportunity for you to comment on the scheme before we  submit an application for powers to build the new tunnel to the Secretary of State in Spring 2016.

Details of the 2014 consultation can be found below and in our Consultation Report.  Additionally initial technical studies available are still available here.  If you have any questions about the Responses to Issues Raised Report, Silvertown Tunnel or our proposals for new crossings elsewhere in east London, please email us at rivercrossings@tfl.gov.uk

 

Update on 26 March 2015

We have today published a Consultation Report setting out the issues raised in our consultation on the Silvertown Tunnel, which ran from 15 October – 19 December 2014.

We are now looking in detail at the issues that were raised in the consultation and will publish a further report responding in detail to all of the points raised later this spring.

In the summer 2015 we will hold a further consultation on the Silvertown Tunnel, prior to submitting an application for the ‘Development Consent Order’ that would be necessary to build and operate the tunnel in late 2015/early 2016.

The Silvertown Tunnel would form part of a package of new river crossings in east London.  We are also developing proposals for new crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere. Further details are available here.

If you have any questions about the Silvertown Tunnel or our proposals for new crossings elsewhere in east London, please email us at rivercrossings@tfl.gov.uk

Details of this consultation can be found below:

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Background

October 2012 and February 2013, we consulted stakeholders and the public on a range of options for new river crossings, including the Silvertown Tunnel.  We received almost 7,000 responses, with over three-quarters of respondents supporting or strongly supporting the proposals for the new Silvertown Tunnel. 

There is regular congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel because the demand to cross the river here exceeds the capacity of the tunnel.  Congestion contributes to worsening air quality, makes journeys less reliable and makes it more difficult for businesses throughout east London to trade.  With the population of east London set to grow over the coming years, these problems will worsen if we do nothing to tackle them. 

The Silvertown Tunnel will provide a viable alternative for some users of the Blackwall Tunnel; reducing congestion, making journeys more reliable and significantly reducing the impact of disruption.  It will also create opportunities for new public transport connections across the river.  As part of our plans, we have also developed proposals for a user charge at the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels.  This is as an essential element to manage demand and provide a source of revenue to help pay for construction and operation of the new tunnel at Silvertown.

About this consultation

This page summarises key information about our proposals to help you have your say on the Silvertown Tunnel. If you wish to read more, there are a number of technical reports and supporting information available. For further details, please see the section Further Reading, at the bottom of this page.

The closing date for comments is 19 December 2014. We will use your feedback to refine and improve our scheme. We then plan to undertake a further consultation in mid 2015, prior to finalising our plans for the new tunnel and submitting our application for Development Consent by the end of 2015.

Why build the Silvertown Tunnel?

There are three key issues we are seeking to address.

There is regular congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel

Journeys from the approaches through the tunnel often take up to 20 minutes or more. The Blackwall Tunnel was simply not designed to cope with the current level of demand and the northbound tunnel is too low for many heavy goods vehicles.

Congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel

For a larger version of the above picture click here

There are a large number of occasions in which a vehicle breakdown, an overheight vehicle or an accident causes disruption and delays at the Blackwall Tunnel.  Between November 2012 – November 2013, there were some 1,100 such incidents that caused significant disruption. 

The duration of these incidents can vary from a few minutes to, in extreme cases, several hours.  Any incident at the Blackwall Tunnel makes the congestion here much worse, causing knock-on effects across a much wider area.  For example, disruption at the Blackwall Tunnel can cause congestion as far north as Stratford and out to Eltham.  This can have knock-on effects for people making local journeys by bus or car.

The population of London will grow in the future

By 2031, there will be around 10m people living in London, with much of the growth expected to take place in east London.  The extra population will put further pressure on London’s road network, even if the vast majority of the new trips are made by public transport. 

New road capacity to relieve the congestion at Blackwall will also enable new bus connections to be provided that will support growth in the surrounding area.

Congestion will get worse if we do nothing to tackle it

Our assessment of the impacts of London’s population growth on the road network indicates that there will be increased pressure at key road junctions, leading to worsening delay for all road users. The map below indicates those junctions where we expect there will be the most significant increase in delays during the morning peak period in 2021. Each red dot indicates a junction where delays during the morning peak in 2021 will increase – the larger the dot, the greater the increase in delay.

Map to show junction delays in 2021

For a larger version of this map click here

Overall, our modelling predicts that delays in the morning peak across east and southeast London would increase by over 20 per cent in 2021, on average.

A package of new river crossings

The Mayor’s Transport Strategy confirmed that a package of new crossings is needed to address the issues facing east London, including improved connections for cars, public transport, pedestrians, cyclists and freight. 

Elements of this package have already been completed or are underway including upgrades to existing rail crossings; the construction of Crossrail connecting the Isle of Dogs and Royal Docks with Woolwich and Abbey Wood and the new cable car for pedestrians and cyclists.  We recently held a consultation on options for further river crossings in addition to the Silvertown Tunnel; at Woolwich, Gallions Reach and/or Belvedere.  The Department for Transport has also proposed building a new ‘Lower Thames Crossing’ to provide additional capacity at Dartford. 

The Silvertown Tunnel, together with options for new crossings further east, forms a package of new crossings we consider are vital to London’s continued success.

What is the Silvertown Tunnel?

The Silvertown Tunnel will be a new twin-bore tunnel providing a road link beneath the Thames from the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach on the Greenwich Peninsula to the Tidal Basin roundabout in the Royal Docks area.

 

 

Silvertown Tunnel fly-through video

 

The tunnel is estimated to cost £750m.  Construction could start in late 2017 and the soonest that the tunnel could be open is 2021/2022.

The tunnels will be accessible to all motorised vehicles.  There will be two traffic lanes in each direction.  To further improve the movements of buses and goods vehicles, one lane in each direction could be reserved for buses and HGVs. 

We will build new junctions to link the tunnels into the existing road network.

Changes to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road

We would need to make a number of changes to the existing road network on the south side, on the immediate approach to the new tunnel.  These changes are:

  • Widening the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach road in order to create new access routes to the Silvertown Tunnel portals.
  • Demolishing the existing footbridge over the A102 near the junction with Boord Street, to allow for the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach to be widened.  The footbridge would be replaced with a new structure.
  • Building a new flyover to take southbound traffic exiting the Blackwall Tunnel over the northbound approach to the Silvertown Tunnel.
  • Introducing new signage to direct motorists either to the Blackwall Tunnel or to the Silvertown Tunnel, depending on their final destination.
  • Creating a new tunnel services building over the mouth of the new Silvertown Tunnel to house ventilation equipment and other vital tunnel infrastructure.

 

Graphic to show changes to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach

For a larger version of this graphic click here

Changes in the Silvertown roundabout area

We would also need to make some changes to the road network on the north side, to link the tunnel to the existing road network.  These changes are:

  • Creating a new signal-controlled roundabout at the Tidal Basin roundabout, to create a link between the Silvertown Tunnel approach roads, Dock Road and the Lower Lea Crossing.
  • Temporarily closing the existing junction of Dock Road with the Lower Lea Crossing, and realigning Dock Road so that it links with the new Tidal Basin roundabout.
  • Introducing new pedestrian and cycle facilities within the new Tidal Basin Roundabout.
  • Creating a new Tunnel services building over the mouth of the new Silvertown Tunnel to house ventilation equipment and other vital tunnel infrastructure.

 

Graphic to show changes in the Silvertown roundabout area

For a larger version of this graphic click here

Pedestrians and cyclists

The Mayor’s Transport Strategy supports a package of river crossing improvements in east London, including improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.  In support of this and recognising the fact that a 1.4km-long vehicular tunnel would not be an attractive place to walk or cycle through, TfL delivered the Emirates Air Line Cable Car in 2012, providing a new cross-river link specifically for pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to existing links at Greenwich and Woolwich.  Given that the cable car is a much more suitable link, pedestrians and cyclists will not be permitted to use the Silvertown Tunnel, in common with the Blackwall Tunnel.

Opportunities for public transport improvements

Over and above the rail improvements already made throughout the area, the Silvertown Tunnel would create opportunities for new public transport connections.  With substantial planned jobs and population growth north and south of the river, the tunnel will enable new cross-river bus services to link growth areas, and provide new bus connections to major rail interchanges.

London's bus network is affected by the limited number of river crossings to the east of Tower Bridge.  While there are comprehensive networks of bus services either side of the river in east and southeast London, these networks operate largely independently of one another. In east London, route 108 is the only bus to cross the river. There are many more cross-river bus services in west London, where there are a large number of road bridges.

The congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel significantly disrupts bus services across a wider area. The new Silvertown Tunnel would greatly reduce congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and provide a new cross-river link, therefore giving us an opportunity to improve cross-river bus services in east London. 

The map below identifies a number of potential corridors where new bus connections could improve cross river connectivity for those areas not well served by cross river public transport connections at present. We will continue to develop the proposals for new bus connections in light of responses to this consultation.

Map to show opportunities for new bus links

For a larger version of this map click here

A new user charge to manage demand and help pay for the Silvertown Tunnel

We propose introducing a user charge to the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels once the Silvertown Tunnel is completed.

The charge is necessary to manage demand for the tunnels and to ensure that the local road network can accommodate future traffic levels with the new tunnel in place. The charge will also provide a source of revenue to help fund the construction and operation of the new Silvertown Tunnel.

How much could the charge be?

We propose that the charge at the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels will be broadly similar to the charges to use the Dartford crossings. The charges at the Dartford Crossing are shown in the table below, for reference.

For a larger version of this table click here

The charge would vary by time of travel and direction of travel.  We will need to charge a ‘peak rate’ at those times of day, and for those directions of travel, when demand for the tunnels is at its greatest.  We expect the ‘peak rate’ to be higher than the cash charge at the Dartford crossing and the ‘off-peak rate’ will be similar to the cash charge at the Dartford crossing.  The tunnels would be free to use overnight, between 10pm and 6am.

For a larger version of this table click here

There will be no toll booths at either Blackwall or Silvertown Tunnels.  We will use automatic systems to track motorists using the tunnel, similar to the London Congestion Charge.  There will be a variety of payment methods available similar to the London Congestion Charging system.

We also propose setting up an account system.  Users who set up an account would register a debit or credit card so the charge could be collected automatically.  As with the Congestion Charging system, to incentivise users to set up accounts, they would pay less.

Impacts on traffic

The key traffic effects of the new tunnel on traffic are expected to be:

  • Congestion in the peak periods would be relieved and journey times would reduce,
  • Journeys would be more reliable with journey times more predictable,
  • Demand to use the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels would be managed through the effects of the user charge,
  • The resilience of the network would be considerably improved since the new tunnel would provide an alternative crossing if the Blackwall Tunnel is unavailable and provide clearance for higher vehicles.

 

The Silvertown Tunnel would ‘release’ traffic currently held in lengthy queues to use the Blackwall Tunnel, which regularly extend as far as the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout.  This would have the effect of reducing journey times in the Blackwall area.  The map below shows the most significant effect that the Silvertown Tunnel could have on delays at junctions in the morning peak in 2021.  Each green dot indicates a junction where delays during the morning peak in 2021 would reduce – the larger the dot, the greater the reduction in delays.

Map to show the effects of the Silvertown Tunnel in reducing morning peak delays in 2021

For a larger version of this map click here

It currently takes around 45 minutes to drive from Lewisham to Stratford during the morning peak period of an average weekday, assuming that there are no incidents at the Blackwall Tunnel.  If an incident has occurred in or around the Blackwall Tunnel, then the journey time could be much longer.

Our modelling forecasts that with future growth taken into account, a journey from Lewisham to Stratford at the same time in 2021 would take around 53 minutes if the Silvertown Tunnel were not built and there were no charge in place.  If the Silvertown Tunnel were built and a user charge was introduced to manage demand for it, a journey from Lewisham to Stratford could take around 40 minutes.

The Silvertown Tunnel would also offer an alternative route for vehicles across the river if the Blackwall Tunnel is unavailable.  There is currently no nearby alternative route across the river if the Blackwall Tunnel must be closed temporarily, requiring motorists to follow lengthy diversionary routes to the nearest available crossing. The Silvertown Tunnel also offers a route for northbound HGVs that are too tall for the northbound bore and which cause considerable disruption if they attempt to access it.

Impacts on the environment

The traffic impacts of the Silvertown Tunnel would also affect noise and air quality in the area. 

Introducing new roads and a higher volume of traffic at certain times of day through new areas will inevitably change existing noise levels.  However any increase in noise would be mainly restricted to the immediate area on the north bank of the Thames at Silvertown, though noise could be reduced through the use of low-noise road surfacing and noise barriers where appropriate.  As such, it is unlikely once noise-reducing measures such as low-noise surfacing have been introduced, that existing local residents will notice any particular increase in traffic noise.  As our work continues we will consider whether these mitigating steps might be necessary.  We will outline our findings in our next consultation.

Poor air quality is already a problem in this area, partly as a result of the very high level of demand for the Blackwall Tunnel and the congestion on the approaches to the tunnel.  The resulting congestion reduces the engine efficiency of vehicles, leading to higher levels of harmful emissions.

We have compared the levels of traffic that we forecast in 2021 without the Silvertown crossing with the levels we expect to occur with the Silvertown crossing.  Our forecasts estimate that by the early 2020s without the Silvertown Tunnel, traffic queuing to pass through the Blackwall Tunnel will worsen.  The opening of the new tunnel will lead to changes in the distribution of traffic crossing the river.  Some roads will see a decrease in traffic and others will see an increase. A particular effect of the Silvertown tunnel will be a reduction in the congestion on the approaches to the Blackwall Tunnel. 

Overall, with the changes in traffic flows we are forecasting and the reduction in congestion, we expect the levels of emissions across the area in 2021 with Silvertown to be lower than the level of emissions we would expect in 2021 without Silvertown.  However, the change in traffic flows will mean that some roads experience an increase in emissions whilst others experience a reduction.

The next stage of work will model how the change in emissions will influence concentrations of NO2 and PM10 and how they affect receptors (e.g. homes and schools). This will be reported in the consultation planned for mid 2015.

Next steps

We will use your feedback to refine and improve our scheme.  We then plan to undertake a further consultation in the mid 2015, prior to finalising our plans. 

We plan to apply formally for the powers to build and operate the Silvertown Tunnel by the end of 2015. 

We will demonstrate in our application that we have developed the proposals for the new tunnel in light of feedback from the public and other stakeholders.

 

Further reading

We have prepared supporting factsheets which expand on the information set out above. These factsheets are available by clicking the links below:

Why build the Silvertown Tunnel?

What is the Silvertown Tunnel?

The effects of the Silvertown Tunnel

We have also published a series of  technical reports on the TfL website.

Roadshows

We arranged a number of roadshow events at which TfL staff were present to answer any questions you may have about our proposals. 

For a larger version of this table click here

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Public
  • Stakeholders
  • Local residents
  • Local businesses
  • Schools
  • London Boroughs
  • Coach Operators
  • Taxi trade
  • Transport for London
  • Taxi customers and other stakeholders

Interests

  • River Crossings