Greenwich Foot Tunnel's new lifts have suffered nearly 100 breakdowns

By Rob Virtue on November 6, 2013 8:09 AM |

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New lifts for pedestrians and cyclists at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel have failed 98 times in their first 18 months of service.

Users have regularly complained about the reliability of the lifts which were installed as part of a botched refurbishment of the tunnel, which links the Isle of Dogs to the south of the Thames.

Following a question at a Greenwich Council meeting last Wednesday, it was revealed the south lift has failed 53 times and the north lift on 45 occasions.

The problems have led to 53 full days where one of the lifts has been out of action, leading to users navigating the staircases, currently narrowed by boardings as part of the delayed refurbishment.

Problems have been exacerbated due to replacement parts needing to be sourced from the lift manufacturer in Germany.

In a report at Wednesday's meeting Councillor Denise Hyland said work to improve the reliability of the lifts were among the aims of the latest round of of construction.

"There have been problems with the lifts in the Greenwich foot tunnel caused by the environment in the roof spaces where the control equipment is housed," she said.

"This was due to the temporary hoarding and temperature variances, and this has impacted on the reliability of the lifts.

"A contract has just been awarded for the completion of works at the foot tunnels. The contract will be completed in Spring 2014 and includes works to control variations in temperature and humidity in the roof spaces which should improve reliability."

She added there would also be "real-time information and site information" about the working status of the lifts.

A group set up to scrutinise the maintenance of the tunnels said the figures, which ran from April 2012 and October 2013 were unacceptable.

Dr Francis Sedgemore of Friends of Greenwich & Woolwich Foot Tunnels said: "The data on foot tunnel lift breakdowns speak for themselves, but what is most important is the real-world impact on tunnel users.

"The elderly and disabled, parents with pushchairs, cyclists - all suffer each and every time the lifts are out of operation, and it is all too common. There is no excuse for this pitiful state of affairs, and it has to stop."

Installation of new lifts at Woolwich are also included in the works, which Greenwich Council said should be completed by the spring.

Also as part of the latest round of refurbishment, Greenwich Foot Tunnel will be shut from 8pm until 5am every evening until December 3.