'Not good enough': Greenwich tunnel lifts closed for up to five months

Busy most of the day... Greenwich foot tunnel, but this time no lifts up to street level

The Greenwich foot tunnel under the Thames. - Credit: Mike Brooke

Pedestrians could be in for a gruelling five months with lifts out of order in the Greenwich foot tunnel deep under the Thames at the Isle of Dogs.

Greenwich Council maintains the tunnel, which sits 50ft below ground and links both sides of the river with surface entrances at Island Gardens on the north side and Cutty Sark at the south end. 

Greenwich Tory leader Nigel Fletcher (left) meets Tower Hamlets councillor Peter Golds over 'lift breakdown' issue

Greenwich Tory leader Nigel Fletcher (left) meets Tower Hamlets councillor Peter Golds concerning the lifts - Credit: Matthew Vaughan

A furious Tower Hamlets councillor Peter Golds has met Greenwich Tory leader Nigel Fletcher to raise the issue. 

Plans are on the drawing board to replace the lifts altogether and the authority admitted “they remain vulnerable to further unpredictable faults”.  

“This is not good enough,” Cllr Golds added. “We don't need lifts that are constantly breaking down.

"We're frustrated that Greenwich Council is warning about the lifts out of action for a further five months."

Says it all... abandon hope all who enter that the lifts might be working 

Greenwich Council has warned the lifts could be out of action for up to five months. - Credit: Matthew Vaughan

The disabled, the elderly and mums with buggies are prevented from using the river crossing with the lifts not working, he said. 

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They would have to negotiate a long spiral staircase at either end. 

Repairs and replacement parts for the lifts that serve the 1,200ft long Edwardian tunnel, which opened in 1902, have to be crafted piecemeal to fit the original frames. 

The doors are being replaced first, then the motors, but each time are having to go through heritage planning procedures.

A Greenwich spokesman told the Advertiser: “We’re advising that the repairs on both sides of the river could take up to five months, due to bespoke parts having to be made to get the lifts running again.” 

Entrances at both ends of the Greenwich Tunnel, either side of the Thames

Entrances at both ends of the Greenwich Tunnel, either side of the Thames - Credit: Matthew Vaughan

Access to the tunnel by stairs remains 24 hours a day. But the authority is urging those who have difficulty with stairs not to attempt them.

“The climb out of the tunnel can be challenging,” the spokesperson added.  

The only alternative Thames crossing from the Isle of Dogs is the DLR between Island Gardens and Cutty Sark — but that’s not free like the tunnel.