Blackheath Tunnel Upgrade

From, Saturday 1 June to Sunday 11 August inclusive, the Blackheath tunnel between Blackheath and Charlton will close as Network Rail begins £10m of essential repairs to the 175-year-old Victorian-era structure.

Services which normally run through the tunnel will be diverted via other routes during the 10 weeks.

Why is the work needed?

The work is needed because the one-mile-long tunnel, which opened in 1849, is prone to leaks and water damage. This is due to brickwork damage caused by the freezing and thawing of rainwater which filters through the ground into the tunnel. While the tunnel is safe, the leaks and very wet conditions inside it damage track and electrical equipment, causing delays and speed restrictions. Over the last year, faults in the tunnel have been the cause of around 1000 minutes of delay to Southeastern passengers.

Delaying the work into the future is not an option as the track and equipment in the tunnel would only deteriorate further causing an increase in delays and disruption to journeys.

Why is the work being done over 10 weeks? Why can’t it be done at weekends?

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. A closure of 10 consecutive weeks is needed because carrying out work in cramped and narrow tunnels is incredibly difficult. If traditional weekend working was used engineers would spend at least 50% of a weekend bringing materials and plant in and out of the tunnel, leaving limited time for actual repair work.

The alternative would have been a year of weekend closures, causing significantly more inconvenience for passengers.

What are we doing?

Over the course of the entire programme of works, Network Rail will replace tens of thousands of bricks and install a new concrete tunnel lining to stop water leaking into the tunnel, which will be crucial for the reliable running of the railway long into the future. Drainage systems will be rebuilt and essential track work carried out, including ‘wet bed’ removal – these are waterlogged sections of track that cause bumpy train rides for customers. These additional works will mean less disruption for passengers in the long term.

What are the benefits?

When the tunnel is repaired and water damaged infrastructure replaced passengers will benefit from fewer delays, fewer speed restrictions and improved reliability.

How will my journey be affected?

Around 4,000 passengers per week will be affected by the closure.

To minimise disruption and keep passengers moving when work is taking place services from Dartford to Cannon Street via Charlton and Lewisham will run via Greenwich, stopping additionally at Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich, and Deptford (see map below). This offers the option to travel on the DLR from Greenwich to Lewisham, which will add around seven minutes to journeys for people who use service which normally travel through the tunnel. The Greenwich Line will have six trains per hour in the off peak (including SE and GTR services) and seven trains per hour in the peak.

There will be a reduction of two trains per hour via Charlton and Blackheath into Cannon Street, which instead both run via Greenwich.

Other services will be diverted along the Bexleyheath line (primarily at weekends or late at night). Our direct services to Charing Cross on the Bexleyheath line are not affected. 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).


There will be no rail replacement bus service. To minimise disruption, we are funding ticket acceptance on the 89, 54, 380 and 202 bus routes – there are between four to six buses an hour – for the duration of the closure and we are working with TfL to ensure there is enough space on those buses to accommodate Southeastern customers. Using these buses will add around 15 minutes to journeys.

Customers also have the option of using the new Superloop 3 express (limited stop) bus route which runs from Thamesmead to Bromley North via Abbey Wood, Bexleyheath, and Sidcup train stations. There are four to six buses an hour. We are funding ticket acceptance.

Accessible travel

Customers with accessible needs can make the journey by taxi between Blackheath and Charlton at Southeastern’s expense.

Get in touch

For more information call our National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41, visit our contact us page, or contact us on X @NetworkRailSE.