FOI request detail

Rotherhithe Tunnel - 2 tonne weight restriction

Request ID: FOI-0176-2021
Date published: 29 May 2020

You asked

In relation to the following order: The A101 GLA Road (Rotherhithe Tunnel, Rotherhithe Tunnel Approach and Branch Road, London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Southwark) (Temporary Weight and Height Restrictions) Order 2018. I request that TfL provide reason for making a distinction between 'goods vehicles' and passenger vehicles in the application of the 2 tonne weight restriction. I note that the Statement of Reasons given for this Order is to prevent "strike risk from taller and heavier vehicles". Please clarify how TfL made a distinction between the risk from vehicles of equal weight but different class (i.e. 'goods vehicle' and passenger vehicle). Particularly given that a large and increasing range of passenger vehicles weigh in excess of 2 tonnes. I request TfL provide transparency over the risks posed to the public by heavier vehicles entering the tunnel and provide evidence to justify that passenger vehicles with a weight above 2 tonnes are safe to travel through the Rotherhithe Tunnel. Even though goods vehicles of equal weight are clearly categorised as unsafe by TfL in the supporting Statement of Reasons.

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-0176-2021

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 7th May 2020 asking for information about weight restrictions in the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. 

Following a review of the Rotherhithe Tunnel Ventilation system it was discovered that the capacity of the current system was limited to a passenger car. Most larger cars are in the region of 2t. The difference between a passenger car and an equivalent size light commercial vehicle is down to the load. The fire loading of a passenger vehicle in general is easy to estimate as it is limited to the number of passengers and associated baggage. The fire load of a light commercial vehicle is harder to estimate, so in the international guidelines these are referenced as having a higher fire load. The Highways England guidance document BD78/99 Design of Road Tunnels gives the fire load of a car as 5 megawatts (MW) and a van (Light commercial) as 15 MW. The current capability of the Rotherhithe tunnel ventilation system can safely deal with a passenger car fire but the light commercial vehicle is beyond its safe working limits.

More general infirmation about the restrictions in place at the tunnel can be found on our website here:

If this is not the information you are looking for please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Yours sincerely,

David Wells

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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