Inside View of Blackheath Tunnel

Essential repairs to 175 year old Blackheath tunnel

No trains will run between Blackheath and Charlton from 1 June for 10 weeks so that Network Rail engineers can carry out essential repairs. The essential work will involve cleaning soot from tunnel using a specialist industrial vacuum cleaner and replacing tens of thousands of bricks damaged by the freezing and thawing of rainwater. Network Rail will also install a new concrete tunnel lining to stop water leaking into the tunnel. These extra works will be crucial for the reliable running of the railway long into the future.  

Inside Blackheath Tunnel 2

The lengthy closure is needed because carrying out work in cramped and narrow tunnels is incredibly difficult. Network Rail is also planning to work during the daytime and some nights to maximise the productivity of this closure. 

David Davidson, Network Rail’s Kent route director, said: “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.”

Ariel view of Blackheath Tunnel entrance

Image Credit: Network Rail

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