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Blackwall Tunnel

Volume 204: debated on Friday 28 February 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will now keep, or request the Metropolitan police to maintain, a log of significant interruptions to free flow traffic conditions in and around the area of the Blackwall tunnel, and publish periodically the record of delays and their respective causes, together with any subsequent preventative action or investigation that is taken.

Police controllers at the Blackwall tunnel keep a record of incidents. The Department's agents for the Blackwall tunnel also maintain an incident log. This ensures that information is readily available for those operating the system. Preventative action and investigation based on these logs and other information takes place as and when needed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set out the respective duties, responsibilities and functions, including those for capital and other expenditures, of his Department, the London borough of Greenwich and the Metropolitan police for the Blackwall tunnel and its immediate approaches, together with a statement of the regular system of consultation and co-ordination between those officials most immediately concerned with its efficient management and maintenance.

The Secretary of State for Transport is the highway authority for trunk roads in England, including the Blackwall tunnels. The London borough of Greenwich is the Department's agent for the tunnels and the southern approach roads. The London borough of Tower Hamlets is the Department's agent for the northern approach roads. The traffic control systems unit is the Department's agent for installing and maintaining electrical and communication equipment. The Metropolitan police are responsible for managing the traffic flows, reporting offences and attending incidents. There is efficient co-operation and co-ordination between these parties who regularly discuss all the issues associated with day-to-day management of this section of the trunk road network.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set out schedules of expenditure relating to the annual maintenance and improvement, respectively, of the Blackwall tunnel and its immediate approaches which show the costs of recent and planned capital improvements, the annual costs of structural and highway maintenance, respectively, the estimated cost of police surveillance and contracts relating to the removal of vehicles, distinguishing between the liabilities of each public body concerned, and stating the actual or notional interest charges arising from major improvments, including that of the recently installed traffic control system.

Through its agents the London borough of Greenwich and the traffic control systems unit, the Department has spent £5·5 million over the past three years on maintenance and capital improvements for the Blackwall tunnels. In addition £21 million is being spent over five years on refurbishing the northbound tunnel. The east London traffic control system was equipped by the Department at a cost of £3·4 million. I will write to the hon. member shortly with the more detailed information he has requested.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the function of the new central traffic control system for the Blackwall tunnel and its surrounding area, together with the functions it is capable of performing additional to those of the system that it replaces, and the future functions that it could perform without significant further capital expenditure.

The new east London traffic control system provides for the operation of tidal flow in the Blackwall tunnels, emergency tunnel closures, and the operation of signals on the tunnel approaches. It is easier to operate, maintain and repair than the old system, and provides additionally for the detection of incidents, queues or slow moving traffic. The system is capable of controlling traffic management on all major roads and tunnels in the east London area with additional expenditure only on roadside equipment.