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Blackheath tunnel repair work

The line between Charlton and Blackheath will be closed for essential repair work for 10-weeks from Saturday 1 June through to Sunday 11 August inclusive.

The line will re-open for the start of service on the morning of Monday 12 August.

Charlton to Blackheath line closure

Download PDF map of the Charlton to Blackheath line closure

Network Rail is carrying out essential repairs in the 175-year-old Victorian-era structure as the mile-long tunnel is prone to water damage, which can cause delays. The tunnel is safe but needs major investment to protect it for the future.

This £10 million project is part of a wider £2.9 billion investment being made by Network Rail on our route over the next five years to help improve reliability and deliver better journeys.

Blackheath tunnel with repair workers walking through


What is the travel advice while the line is closed?

We want to thank customers for bearing with us while this essential repair work is carried out in tunnel. Alternative travel options are set out below, please check before you travel and allow more time for your journey.

Alternative travel

  • There will be a reduction of two trains per hour via Charlton and Blackheath into Cannon Street, which will instead run via Greenwich, stopping additionally at Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich, and Deptford.
  • The Greenwich line will have six trains per hour in the off peak (including Southeastern and Thameslink services), and six to seven trains per hour in the peak.
  • DLR between Greenwich and Lewisham. (This will add approx. seven minutes to journey times)
  • Other services will be diverted along the Bexleyheath line (primarily at weekends or late at night).
  • The Bexleyheath line will have five trains per hour in the off peak (two to Cannon Street, one to Charing Cross and two to Victoria), and eight in the peak (four to Cannon Street, two to Charing Cross and two to Victoria).

Buses

  • There will be no rail replacement bus service as there are several TfL buses.
  • Ticket acceptance will be in place on the 89, 54, 380 and 202 bus routes. There are between four to six buses an hour. (This will add approx.15 minutes to journey times).
  • The Superloop 3 express (limited stop) bus route runs from Thamesmead to Bromley North via Abbey Wood, Bexleyheath, and Sidcup train stations. There are four to six buses an hour and ticket acceptance will be in place.

Accessible travel

Customers who need accessible travel between Blackheath and Charlton can take a taxi. The cost will be covered by Southeastern.
You can also book Passenger Assist in the usual way – full details are available on our accessible travel page.

Delay Repay

If you are delayed by 15 minutes or more then you may be entitled to Delay Repay. For a timetabled journey that takes longer than travelling through the tunnel, such as by TfL bus or on a DLR service, then this is not covered by Delay Repay, as advance warning of the changes has been provided.

Why is the tunnel closing for 10 weeks?

We know there’s never a good time to close the railway and that changes to services for a 10-week period is a long time. The alternative would have been a year of weekend closures, causing significantly more inconvenience.

Weekend closures would take much longer as working in a cramped and narrow tunnel is incredibly difficult. Engineering teams would spend at least 50% of a weekend bringing materials and plant in and out of the tunnel, leaving limited time for the repair work.

A 10-week closure also allows for more efficient working, causes the least disruption, is easier for customers to plan, and means we can deliver the customers benefits more quickly.

Why over the summer?

The work has been planned for the summer for two reasons. Working in the tunnel while challenging at the best of times, is even more difficult during periods of rainfall. Doing it in summer allows more efficient working and is also safer for those undertaking the work.

Additionally, our customer data shows that during the summer months the railway is quieter. However, we are conscious that we need to liaise closely with local schools during term-time to ensure students can get to school on time and safely.

Will the work be completed when the tunnel reopens in August?

The 10-week closure this summer is the start of a programme of works that will last until at least 2026. Engineers will return for a 10-week period each year until the works are completed. Further closures may be needed after 2026 depending on how the project progresses. You can visit the Network Rail project page for more information.

Is there other tunnel work on the Southeastern network?

The Blackheath tunnel closure is part of an ongoing programme of tunnel repairs (Penge, Mountfield, Selling and Wadhurst, Bopeep, Sevenoaks and Ore) to help improve reliability.

Is this tunnel work starting at the same time as your new timetable?

Our new timetable starts from Sunday 2 June, you can find full details on our timetables page.

Are there any other extended line closures over the summer?

The line between Sheerness-on-Sea and Swale will be closed on a series of dates in June and July. Network Rail engineers are carrying out essential repairs on the Kingsferry Bridge on the Isle of Sheppey.

The closure dates are set out below, find out more details about the work on the Network Rail website.

  • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June
  • Saturday 15 to Saturday 22 June
  • Saturday 26 June to Saturday 6 July
  • Saturday 13 July and Sunday 14 July