Rotherhithe Tunnel Width Restriction

Peter Starch made this Freedom of Information request to Transport for London

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Transport for London,

I write further to the Rotherhithe Tunnel width restriction which was implemented in March 2013. This request will make reference to your statement on: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/27385.aspx

1. Please provide details of all consultation in relation to the new width restriction.

2. Please provide a breakdown of all costs for the new width restrictions, including consultation costs, implementation costs and maintenance costs.

3. You state (on your link above) that:
“The narrowing of the width restrictions on both northbound and southbound approaches to the tunnel will significantly reduce the risk of vehicle collisions, spillage of flammable materials, and fires in the tunnel.”
Please give details of this research. For the last 3 years please provide data on the number of vehicle collisions, spillage of flammable materials, and fires in the tunnel

5. Please give details of how many vehicle collisions, spillage of flammable materials, and fires have occurred in the tunnel since the new restrictions were put in place.

6. Please give details of the amount of complaints received in relation to the new width restrictions.

7. Again on your site you state an average of 103 vehicles a day out of 33,000 will be affected. Please give details of this research.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Starch

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Starch

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2243-1213

 

Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 22
March 2013 asking for information about Rotherhithe tunnel.

 

Your request will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the
Freedom of Information Act and TfL’s information access policy. 

 

A response will be provided to you by 23 April 2013.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Starch

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2243-1213

 

Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 22
March 2013 asking for information about Rotherhithe tunnel.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and TfL’s information access policy. 

 

Because we are still collating the information you have requested we will
not be able to resolve your request within the statutory 20 working day.

 

We intend to provide you with a full response by 30 April 2013. Please
accept my apologies for this delay.

 

 In the meantime, if you have any queries relating to your request, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Starch

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2243-1213

 

Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 22
March 2013 asking for information about Rotherhithe tunnel.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.  I can
confirm we do hold the information you require. Your request was in six
parts which are answered below.

 

1.    Please provide details of all consultations in relation to the new
width restriction.

 

The Rotherhithe Tunnel is over 100 years old and was built for the traffic
of the day; horse drawn carriages and very few vehicles. We have an
ongoing programme to improve the safety of the tunnel in line with modern
safety requirements.

 

·         One of the key safety measures has been to limit the use of the
tunnel to cars and small vans. This has been achieved by limiting the
width to 6’6”. The Traffic Order to reduce the tunnel width came into
force in March 2012. Prior to implementation we consulted with key
stakeholders to ensure the scheme was implemented in the best possible way
to reduce the impact on users of the tunnel and other people in the area
who may be affected. This involved two local and one statutory newspaper
notices (East London Advertiser, Southwark News, London Gazette) and
included the statutory consultees listed below:

 

·         Metropolitan Police

o   Chadwell Heath Traffic

o   Catford Traffic

o   Traffic Criminal Justice Operational Command Unit (TCJOCU)

·         London Borough of Tower Hamlets

·         London Borough of Southwark

·         The Road Haulage Association Ltd Southern & Eastern Region

·         London Ambulance Service

·         Freight Transport Association

·         London Fire Brigade

·         Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

·         Royal Mail Logistics

·         London Taxi and Private Hire

·         AA Roadwatch

·         Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association

·         James Barber – Liberal Democrat MP

 

The narrowing of the permitted vehicle width is intended to improve safety
by significantly reducing the risk of collisions between passing
vehicles. Physical measures to enforce the width restriction were
introduced on 19 March 2013. As well as the statutory consultation, we
sent out a press notice to all local papers, communicated directly with
drivers through Variable Message Signs, provided details on our website
and handed out a leaflet to drivers using the tunnel in the week before
enforcement began.

    

2.    Please provide a breakdown of all costs for the new width
restrictions, including consultation costs, implementation costs and
maintenance costs.

 

Our accounting system and applied project codes do not match the
categories specified in your request. The total cost of the scheme to
implement the width restriction in March 2012 and the physical measures in
March 2013 is projected to be £300,000.  This can be broken down as
follows:

 

The costs of the physical width restriction works may be broken down
further as follows:

 

Investigation & preliminary design stage (including consultation)      
                                                  £50,000
Implementation – civil
works                                                                      £150,000
Emergency Services by-pass barriers (principally for ambulances over 6' 6"
wide) £100,000
Total £300,000

 

To date, there have been no additional maintenance costs for the width
restrictions.

    

3.    You state (on your link above) that: “The narrowing of the width
restrictions on both northbound and southbound approaches to the tunnel
will significantly reduce the risk of vehicle collisions, spillage of
flammable materials, and fires in the tunnel.” Please give details of this
research. For the last 3 years please provide data on the number of
vehicle collisions, spillage of flammable materials, and fires in the
tunnel.

 

The policy decision to impose a width restrict on the approaches to the
tunnel is to minimise the risk of vehicle fires, spillages and
collisions. If a fire occurred, the ventilation system has the capacity to
manage smoke from car fires and van fires up to an 8MW heat release rate
in the central section of the tunnel and 15MW in the rest of the tunnel. 
Such events are far more dangerous in tunnels than on the open road due to
the radial nature of the tunnel reflecting heat back into the core of the
fire.  A similar incident involving a larger vehicle (e.g. HGV) could be
as much as 40MW in intensity, creating more heat and smoke than the
tunnel’s ventilation and fire suppression system could deal with. This is
particularly the case in Rotherhithe tunnel, given the tunnel comprises a
single bore supporting two way traffic, cyclists and pedestrians, with no
separate means of access/egress other than the tunnel mouths
themselves. The restrictions are based on modelling taking into account
the inherent limitation of the tunnel geometry (small diameter, narrow and
low headroom, two way, numerous bends and steep vertical alignment on
entrance and exits of the tunnel).

In the three years, from 1 March 2010 to 28 April 2013, there have been
53* incidents involving vehicles in Rotherhithe Tunnel:

 

48 crashes between two or more vehicles

4 vehicle fires

1 spillage

    

None of these incidents occurred since the physical width restrictions
were put in place.

 

4.    Please give details of how many vehicle collisions, spillage of
flammable materials, and fires have occurred in the tunnel since the new
restrictions were put in place. 

 

From 19 March 2013, when TfL started to physically enforce the width
restrictions, up to 28 April 2013 there have been no incidents involving
vehicles in Rotherhithe Tunnel.

    

5.    Please give details of the amount of complaints received in relation
to the new width restrictions.

 

From 19 March 2013 to 28 April 2013,  we received 111 complaints about
Rotherhithe Tunnel width restrictions, with 104 (94 per cent) received in
the first two days of the physical measures being in place.

 

Following initial congestion caused by vehicles travelling slowly through
the width restriction at the entrances of the tunnel, on 20 March 2013 we
took the decision to amend the restrictions, removing the vehicle posts,
whilst maintaining the kerb restriction. Following this change, traffic
has been flowing freely through the tunnel and there has been no further
congestion in the area. Since the amendments to the restrictions, we have
received seven complaints to date. We will continue to monitor the
situation closely and take measures to keep the traffic moving where
necessary.

 

6.    Again on your site you state an average of 103 vehicles a day out of
33,000 will be affected. Please give details of this research.

 

Video based traffic counts were undertaken in 2011 to establish the likely
impact of the physical width restriction on the approaches to the tunnel.
It was deduced that approximately 100 vehicles/day would not be able to
pass through the tunnel once the width restriction was in place.

 

If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable
to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

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