South East London rail line to close for 10 weeks

No trains through Blackheath Tunnel for 10 weeks this summer

Mark Wilson 1 comment 5 Min Read
Inside view of Blackheath Tunnel // Credit: Network Rail

It has been announced that no trains will run between and Charlton for 10 weeks from June 1, as Network Rail undertake repairs to Blackheath tunnel which is susceptible to leaking

The work is to curtail the rainwater that is coming through the brickwork inside the 175-year-old tunnel.

Work undertaken will involve the use of an industrial vacuum cleaner to remove any impurities from the roof and sides of the tunnel caused by the water and from the steam engines that last passed through this tunnel on a regular basis back in the early 1960s.

Once this has been done, the replacement of thousands of bricks damaged by the leaking and freezing water will be individually removed and painstakingly replaced with new ones, before a new concrete lining is installed to stop the leaks.

Blackheath Tunnel is one mile long and prone to leakage from rain water coming through the brickwork - Network Rail
Blackheath Tunnel is one mile long and prone to leakage from rain water coming through the brickwork // Credit: Network Rail

The 10 week timescale for this project is needed as the twin bore tunnel is one of the narrowest in the country which makes working inside it with modern specialist equipment very difficult, work will take place during day and night-time hours, to work efficiently and complete the works as quickly as possible.

The work is to be completed by Monday 12 August and the train services travelling via Charlton and the Blackheath tunnel to Lewisham will return to normal.

“Working consecutively over 10 weeks means we can reduce the overall disruption to passengers and give them reliability improvements sooner. The alternative would have been a year of weekend closures. 

“We look to manage the impact of work on railway neighbours, carrying out any noisy activities during the day, but with the tunnel more than 20m underground any noise and vibration from the work will be minimal. 

“After we've cleared the soot from the tunnel this summer, a full assessment of the extent of further repair work needed next year can be made. 

“We're really grateful to passengers and neighbours for their patience and are working closely with Southeastern to make sure everyone understands the changes and the impact on their journeys.” 

David Davidson, Network Rail's Kent route director,
Aerial view of Blackheath Tunnel entrance // Credit: Network Rail

Amendments to Services

Woolwich and Greenwich Lines

Southeastern services primarily use this tunnel, as trains from London Charing Cross and travel via Lewisham before taking this tunnel onto the Woolwich line before continuing their journeys onto , Dartford and the Medway towns.

During the 10 week closure of this Blackheath tunnel, trains that normally run from Dartford to London Cannon Street via Lewisham will be diverted to run via Greenwich instead, with additional stops at Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich and Deptford.

Passengers for Lewisham are encouraged to change at Greenwich for the Docklands Light Railway to complete their journey, and an extra journey time of at least 7 minutes will need to be taken into consideration for passengers who are planning on travelling on any of the diverted services.

The four trains per hour that currently run though Blackheath tunnel will be reduced to minimise congestion on the diverted route. However, they will continue to stop at the same stations as normal to Charlton, before they will be diverted to run via Greenwich and Deptford to London Bridge and London Cannon Street.

This will mean trains on the Greenwich line will see six trains per hour off-peak and seven trains per hour at peak times, which include a mix of both Southeastern and Services.

Bexleyheath Line

Trains will also be diverted to run along the Bexleyheath Line and will be pathed in around the normal trains that run on this line, which will remain unaffected by the changes. Any diverted trains that do run via Bexleyheath will primarily run during late nights or at weekends.

At Peak times eight trains and hour will run, four to London Cannon Street, two for London Charing Cross and two for London Victoria.

Off Peak, trains will run two for London Cannon Street, one to London Charing Cross and the normal two train service to Victoria.

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1 Comment
  • Never realised those two bridges in the aerial photo were disused. Does anybody know where they used to go to?

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