Questions on the bus route proposals

    1) Why are you consulting on a change to route 108 that uses the Blackwall Tunnel when this consultation is about the Silvertown Tunnel bus network?

    Although these proposals are predominantly about the Silvertown Tunnel bus network, the Development Consent Order (DCO) that granted permission to build the Silvertown Tunnel requires that we must provide a minimum of 20 buses per hour at peak times across both the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels combined.

    Currently, route 108 is the only bus route that crosses the river east of Tower Bridge and as such forms a key part of the cross-river bus network in East London. We propose to keep route 108 much as it is, travelling via the Blackwall Tunnel. However, as part of the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel, the opportunity will arise to use a new slip road as it exits the southern end of the Blackwall Tunnel. This will speed up the journey to North Greenwich station. It is this minor re-routeing that we are consulting on.

    2) Will route 108 remain as a single deck bus?

    Yes. Route 108 will continue to use the Blackwall Tunnel. Due to the height restrictions of the tunnel, the bus will remain a single deck. However, we intend to change the current buses used on the route and instead introduce zero emission buses that can carry the same number of passengers as the current vehicles. We will be able to use double decker buses in the new Silvertown Tunnel.

    3) Would route 129 still serve North Greenwich Station even if it no longer terminates there?

    Yes. Route 129 will continue to stop at North Greenwich Station before continuing its onward journey to either Great Eastern Quay or Lewisham Shopping Centre.

    4) Would route 129 continue to use double decker buses?

    Yes. Route 129 will continue to use double decker buses as there is no height restriction for the Silvertown Tunnel. Additionally, it is our expectation to change the buses used on the route to zero-emission.

    5) What would the frequency of route 129 be?

    We are planning to increase the frequencies of route 129. The frequencies would be:

    • Monday – Friday daytime: increasing to every eight minutes (currently every twelve minutes)
    • Saturday daytime: increasing to every ten minutes (currently every twelve minutes)
    • Sunday daytime and all evenings: increasing to every twelve minutes (currently every twenty minutes)

    6) Why have you called the new route X239?

    The X239 is a provisional name for referring to the route. We will give further consideration to its name following consultation.  

    7) Would route X239 stop at North Greenwich Station?

    No. Route X239 would not stop at North Greenwich Station. It would instead enter straight into the Silvertown Tunnel.

    8) Why are you proposing that the X239 travels non-stop between Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout and Leamouth roundabout?

    The proposed cross-river bus network was developed using feedback from the original Silvertown Tunnel public consultation; engagement with local Councils through the Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group (STIG) and using transport models available to us. As part of this process there were requests to consider limited stop services through the tunnel. When we modelled the Grove Park – Canary Wharf routeing as a limited stop service we found in this instance that the journey time improvements that could be made were sufficiently attractive to prospective users as to be worth proposing. The non-stop service therefore complements the proposed stopping services provided by the 108 and 129.

    9) Would route X239 use double decker buses?

    Yes. Route X239 would use double decker buses as there is no height restriction for the Silvertown Tunnel. Additionally, it is our ambition to change the buses used on the route to zero-emission.

    10) What would the frequency of route X239 be?

    The frequencies for route X239 would be as follows:

    • Monday – Friday daytime: every eight minutes
    • Saturday and Sunday daytime and all evenings: every fifteen minutes

Questions on the proposals in general

    11) You are asking questions about several route options for routes 129 and X239 but have said you have a preferred option in mind. What is the purpose of asking us our opinion?

    For the three different route options for routes 129 and X239 respectively, we have clearly stated our preferences for particular options. However, the alternative routes suggested are legitimate possibilities for both routes, and we want to understand from you which of the route options you prefer before making our decision.

    Your views are important to us and our decision making. Through the consultation questionnaire and the open-text question, we want to understand how the proposed changes or route options might impact you, either positively or negatively. This will inform our final decisions when considering the proposals post-consultation.

    12) We were told there would be 37.5 buses per hour previously. Why are you only providing 20 buses per hour?

    The Silvertown Tunnel will connect the north and south of the river for many years and as part of the planning process we considered its impact over the first 60 years, as we would for other major transport developments. As part of this an indicative bus network was considered which, combined, provided 37.5 buses per hour. During the public enquiry we explained that in the initial years of the tunnel, while travel patterns are still developing, a bus network of that scale was unlikely to be required. 

    Following the public enquiry, we committed to running a minimum of 20 buses per hour in each direction across the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels combined during the peak periods for at least an initial 3 year monitoring period. 

    We have since revisited this work and our analysis continues to support these conclusions, showing that additional bus services would be very lightly used and so offer poor value for money. As people make use of the tunnel to live on one side of the river and work or play on the other and major new development in the area takes places, we expect demand to travel by bus to grow. However, such things take time. As a result, we anticipate the cross-river bus network to increase over time. These proposals represent the bus network for the initial years following the opening of the tunnel. We will continue to monitor demand after the tunnel opens and review opportunities to expand this bus network to encourage more cross-river trips by public transport.  Any future proposals for the bus network will be consulted on. 

    13) How did you decide on the proposals?

    We considered several different options for the initial Silvertown Tunnel bus network before opting for this set of proposals.

    We have engaged with the statutory consultative body for Silvertown Tunnel the Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group (STIG)) throughout the proposal development and optioneering.

    You can read more about how we developed and chose these proposals in our ‘Silvertown Buses Supporting Document’.

    14) Are any of the proposed routes 24hour or have night routes? Will night bus / 24hour buses be provided on the Silvertown Tunnel network?

    Route 108 currently has a night bus route and will continue to do so under these proposals.

    No other night routes are proposed at this time but both route 129 and X239 would operate from early in the morning till late at night, seven days a week.

    15) Will the buses used for routes 108, 129 and X239 be zero emission?

    The DCO requires us to ensure all the buses using the tunnels at least meet Euro VI engine standards, which we would be able to comply with. However, we are planning to make the fleet of buses serving the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels completely zero-emission. 

    Making the Silvertown Tunnel bus network zero emission will be subject to infrastructure upgrades to the relevant bus garages and other factors, not entirely within the control of TfL. However, we are confident we will be able to meet this aspiration in time for the opening of the tunnel. 

    16) Will this network be ready on time for the Tunnel opening in 2025?

    Yes. The new bus network is a key component of the Silvertown Tunnel scheme, and so we are planning for it to It is a requirement of the DCO that the bus network be operational at the time of the Silvertown Tunnel opening.  

    17) What benefits will the bus network through the tunnels bring?

    The Silvertown Tunnel seeks to reduce congestion and improve the reliability of journey times in the local area. The proposed network of cross-river bus services seeks to build upon this and take advantage of the new connections it creates by providing an alternative to the private car.

    The proposed network:

    • Creates new direct journey opportunities from existing communities to employment centres like Canary Wharf and to leisure destinations such as Greenwich town centre
    • Supports areas under-going significant levels of new development such as the Royal Docks and Greenwich peninsula, promoting those new communities to take up sustainable travel
    • Reduces waiting times for those served by route 129 and X239 as a result of higher bus frequencies
    • Connects with other bus and train services to create a wider network and extend the benefits of the proposed changes  
    • Will contribute to lower emissions by offering an alternative to the private car as well as through our ambition to operate with a zero-emission fleet

    18) What are the specifics of the £2m in bus concessions planned for local residents to help promote new cross-river bus services that will run through the tunnel, as well as supporting them away from private car use?

    Our work in this area is currently focused on developing the new bus routes; what destinations should they serve and how frequently should they run.  In the coming years before the tunnel opens in 2025, we will be reviewing options for exactly who would benefit from concessions for these bus services, and how these would be delivered, for example through a system of refunding journeys taken on bus routes through the tunnel.   

    Details of the bus concessions, including eligibility and how to register, will be shared in advance of the new tunnel opening and the new bus services launching in 2025.

Questions on the consultation process

    19) Why are you consulting over the festive period?

    Due to the project timescales, we have to consult now to ensure the bus network is operational in time for the tunnel opening. 

    We believe running the consultation period for eight weeks, instead of our standard six weeks for bus consultations, provides consultees with an adequate amount of time to have their say on our proposals. 

General Silvertown Tunnel questions

    20) Who are STIG?

    The DCO formed the Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group, also known as STIG. It is a consultative body comprised of TfL, the GLA, twelve London Boroughs and Highways England. STIG have been kept up-to-date about the process undertaken to design an opening bus network for the Silvertown Tunnel.

    21) How do I find more information about the Silvertown Tunnel project?

    You can read about the wider Silvertown Tunnel project on our Silvertown Tunnel project page, or by visiting Riverlinx’s website. Riverlinx are the consortium delivering the Silvertown Tunnel through a design, build, finance and maintain contract.