Opening times and access
Updated on 13 August 2021
Statement on the Greenwich foot tunnel lifts
The Royal Borough of Greenwich is advising people who use the Greenwich foot tunnel that the current repairs needed to lifts on both sides of the river could take up to five months to complete. Until repairs are made, the lifts cannot be operated, but access to the tunnel via the stairs will remain open 24 hours per day.
Please do not attempt to use the tunnel if you have difficulty using the stairs. The climb out of the tunnel can be very challenging for people with reduced mobility or fitness.
The time needed for the repairs is due to the unique historic nature of the lifts, which require detailed conservation plans to be approved and bespoke parts to be made in order to get them running again.
Repairs would be the first phase of a plan exploring replacement of the existing lifts as even after the current issue is resolved, they remain vulnerable to further unpredictable faults. However, this initial phase would seek to increase the reliability of the service and keep it open.
The Council apologises for the inconvenience the closure has for people living and working in the borough and for those visiting the historic maritime town. Officers are working hard to develop a proposal that will ensure equal access and a better lift service for all tunnel users. For further information, please see the frequently asked questions section below.
There are two foot tunnels in the Royal Borough of Greenwich; one in Greenwich and the other in Woolwich. Our foot tunnels are used by 1.5 million people a year (around 1.2 million in Greenwich and 300,000 in Woolwich).
- Both foot tunnels are open 24 hours daily
- Bicycles or e-scooters should not be ridden in the tunnels
- People using lifts should wear a facemask
Please note that in the event of either of the tunnels being closed, users may use the DLR at cost: During peak travel periods, however, cyclists may be denied access onto the DLR. Read more about crossing the river by bike.
Closures and maintenance
Any scheduled closures and maintenance of the foot tunnels or foot tunnel lifts are listed below.
- Greenwich foot tunnel: Both lifts in the Greenwich foot tunnel are out of service. The council apologises for the ongoing inconvenience caused.
During wet cleaning, there is a fair amount of water present but the tunnel will remain open.
Location of the tunnels
The foot tunnels provide pedestrian links across the river at the following locations:
- Greenwich foot tunnel links Cutty Sark to Island Gardens, Tower Hamlets
- Woolwich foot tunnel links Woolwich to North Woolwich, Newham.
In the event of lift or tunnel closures, tunnel users may wish to use the following alternative routes:
- Woolwich - DLR between King George V and Woolwich Arsenal or Woolwich Ferry
- Greenwich - DLR between Cutty Sark and Island Gardens.
Report a problem
For safety and security, CCTV monitoring is in operation throughout the tunnels, stairs and lifts. If there is an emergency requiring the emergency services, please call 999.
Help points are provided within the tunnels. These are monitored 24 hours daily.
If you notice a fault when using either tunnel - such as a lift not working - please report it to us. We monitor these reports during normal working hours. If the problem needs our urgent attention - for example if there is a safety risk - please call 020 8854 8888.
History of the foot tunnels
Ever wondered how the foot tunnels came about?
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel - Frequently Asked Questions
Why are the lifts closed?
The motors in the lift doors are not working meaning that neither lift can be operated.
How long will it take to repair the lifts?
The Greenwich foot tunnel lifts are listed structures that need specialist parts to work. Unfortunately, when these parts fail, replacements are no longer available and significant repairs need to be made to get the lifts running again. Additionally detailed conservation plans must be developed and approved before any work can take place. It is anticipated the repairs could take five months to be completed.
Why don’t you keep the parts in stock?
The lifts have thousands of individual parts and we cannot accurately predict which ones will fail. While some parts are available off-the-shelf, others are bespoke and need to be manufactured as one-off items. The cost of individual parts and the uncertain nature of how repairs might need to be adapted means it not financially viable to hold bespoke parts in stock.
Who is responsible for the lifts?
The lifts are owned by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Tower Hamlets Council. The Royal Borough of Greenwich manages the lifts on behalf of both boroughs taking responsibility for the day-to-day operations.
Where can I get more information/updates?
Updates will be posted on this webpage and you can follow @royal_greenwich on Twitter for live updates of closures and faults for both the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels.
Why don’t you replace the lifts rather than keep fixing them?
Officers are working hard to develop a proposal that will ensure equal access and a better lift service for all tunnel users, which may include replacing them. It is anticipated that with conservation planning and bespoke parts, it would take two to three years to replace the lifts, so a repair plan is needed to keep them running. However, even when one problem is solved, the lifts are vulnerable to subsequent failures.
Does this affect the Woolwich foot tunnel?
The Woolwich foot tunnel lifts are operational (please check LINK for updates) but are vulnerable to faults that are difficult to repair in the same way.
What alternative routes are available to between Greenwich and Island Gardens?
The DLR runs a service between Cutty Sark station and Island Gardens. Travellers must pay a fare to use the service. Please visit tfl.gov.uk to plan your journey.
Can I still access the tunnel using the stairs?
Yes, the tunnel remains open 24 hours per day for people who are able to use the stairs.