Transport for London's (TfL) latest initiative to improve the Blackwall Tunnel for road users has helped reduce the amount of time the tunnel is closed to road users because of unplanned incidents by 32%.
A joint initiative between TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency (VOSA) has seen officers from the MPS Safer Transport Command Roads Policing Unit based permanently at the tunnel since September 2011.
Unplanned tunnel closures delaying drivers reduced by almost a third. More than 900 vehicles were stopped and checked by Police Tunnels Team to reduce stoppages caused by accidents, breakdowns and over-height vehicles. Four arrests were made and more than 400 fines issued for various offences, including poorly maintained vehicles and drivers not complying with height restrictions.
The Tunnel Team was originally introduced in February 2011 for a 12-week trial period. The dedicated team of ten officers provides an immediate response to incidents, such as breakdowns and accidents, occurring in or around the tunnel. As a result, during the last six months, the average time taken to deal with each accident occurring in the tunnel has reduced by more than 50%, from more than 35 minutes to around 16 minutes, when compared to the same period the year before. The team also carries out enforcement operations and stop-checks on potentially sub-standard vehicles to help prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place.
The Blackwall Tunnel was opened in 1897 and carries around 50,000 vehicles a day in both directions. The northern tunnel has a four-meter height restriction.