Hammersmith Bridge Frequently asked Questions

Below are answers provided by TFL and Hammersmith and Fulham Council to frequently asked questions about Hammersmith Bridge closure. These views are very much of the organisations they represent who are responsible for the bridge and not my own.  Please be assured I will continue to scrutinise these organisations but these are the answers as they stand.   I will be updating it as more answers emerge:

The answers on the bridge are provided by Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the answers on all other matters have been provided by TfL

 

The Bridge (answers provided by Hammersmith and Fulham Council)

 

Who is responsible for Hammersmith Bridge?

The bridge belongs to Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F Council), but it is also a vital part of London’s strategic transport system which is why Transport for London (TfL) is involved in the project management of the Bridge.

Why is the Bridge Closed?

Cast iron is brittle and prone to shattering – one reason why this is the only bridge of its kind in the country and one of only two in the world today – the other spans the Danube in Budapest.

In 2015, the council began the first series of thorough reviews in the bridge’s recent history. The scope was to check all aspects of the bridge’s structure. These new, weekly safety checks, included using new sensor technology to assess if the stresses being imposed on the bridge were causing structural damage.

The safety checks revealed that over decades the bridge’s bearings had seized up due to corrosion. This has caused the bridge’s natural and necessary flexibility to become compromised. The bridge was closed to motor vehicles in April after our engineers discovered hairline micro-fractures had started to appear in the iron casings around the pedestals of the bridge.

Who uses the bridge?

The bridge is a main artery connecting the north and south sides of the Thames and a vital river crossing for residents in neighbouring boroughs on both sides of the Thames, and for London as a whole.

The bridge was built for horses, carts and penny farthings. Until 2015, when the council limited the number of buses, the bridge was used by 22,000 cars and 1,800 buses every day.

What is being done to reopen the bridge?

A team of 18 world-class specialist engineers from both TfL and H&F Council are currently undertaking the most comprehensive engineering review the bridge has ever seen.  

Included in the team are engineers who have experience of repairing oil rigs. They are the best in the world at understanding the complexities of large-scale metal structures.

Additional engineers will be brought in soon to install more sensors across other areas of the bridge and start work on the pedestals. The engineers will be seeking to work round the clock on some elements of the investigations while ensuring that residents are protected from the impact of noise and light.

When will the Bridge reopen?

Clearly safety comes first. Closing the bridge was the right thing to do. Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Transport for London are committed to re-opening the bridge and restore it to its former Victorian splendour as soon as possible. It is a complex and highly-skilled job. It is also Grade II Listed, which makes its restoration even more complex.

Our specialist engineers will have completed a full diagnosis of all aspects of the bridge’s state of health by mid-August at which point we will have a more precise understanding of the scale of the works and the timescale required.

Along with Transport for London, H&F Council will then bring forward a detailed plan of work and will be able to give a more precise timescale for the bridge’s re-opening.

At this stage it is hard to predict how long repair work could take, but it might be as long as three years.

Will the bridge look the same when it reopens?

The bridge will be fully restored to its former glory and, once restored, will look better than it does today.

As well as repairing its structural issues, its road surface will be renovated to ensure the surface is smooth and fit for purpose. In addition, the original electric lights will be replaced with LED light bulbs. Although the LED light bulbs will look the same they will cut energy use by 50 per cent.

How much will it cost to reopen the bridge?

The bridge is a national asset and one of London’s icons. Once the engineers report their findings, the project to restore the bridge to its former Victorian splendour will be fully costed.

Who will pay for it?

Hammersmith & Fulham Council is working with TfL to submit a bid to the government to fund the restoration of one of the capital’s most iconic river crossings. 

What short term options are there for ensuring vulnerable residents can still cross the Thames between Barnes and Hammersmith?

Pedestrians and cyclists can still use the bridge. Motorbikes and mopeds can also cross the bridge but must be wheeled across to avoid motorised vibrations causing further damage. Hammersmith & Fulham Council is exploring various short-term measures to ensure vulnerable residents on both sides of the bridge, for whom the bridge is a lifeline, will also be able to continue to cross it.

These measures could include a community shuttle service. Other options are also being explored and will be in place as soon as the engineers confirm they are 100 per cent confident the bridge can be used safely.

TfL has added a series of alternative bus routes for Hammersmith Bridge

What about access for emergency vehicles?

There have been emergency service contingency plans in place long before the bridge was closed. Hammersmith & Fulham Council is in regular dialogue with all emergency service providers. 

The Bridge has been closed before, so how can we be sure it won’t happen again?

The more comprehensive the investigations are at this stage, the more enduring the long-term solutions will be, which is why the investigations most be carried out thoroughly.

As well as restoring the bridge to its full working order, Hammersmith & Fulham Council is also exploring additional, sustainable and ambitious solutions to west London’s traffic in the 21st century.

 

Bus services (answers provided by TFL)

 

Why can’t the original temporary bus routes be used?

The changes introduced immediately after the bridge unexpectedly closed were not very efficient. For example the 72 had to be shortened at its northern end as we did not have enough buses and drivers to run the full length via Chiswick Bridge.  We forecast that people would continue to want to directly access the tube at the nearest point which is Putney Bridge, so we have re-focused the network in that direction with the diverted 209 and extra buses on the 265. 

However, we are continuing to monitor and review the situation as there have been requests for a restored direct link from the southern end of Hammersmith Bridge via the previous 209 routeing to Mortlake Avondale Road for people who want to walk across the bridge from Hammersmith Tube station.

The new routes reduce the service provided in Barnes and Mortlake – can this be improved?

The overall number of buses is the area is about the same as before but do serve different locations.  We are continuing to monitor the capacity provided; for example we introduced extra journeys on the 33 on Monday 3 June (see below).

Can a shuttle bus be put in place between the Bridge and Hammersmith Station.  Many people find the 15 minutes walk a struggle.

 Route 72 continues to run between the north side of Hammersmith Bridge and Hammersmith station every 8 minutes during the day Monday to Saturdays and every 12 minutes evenings and Sundays.

Why are the 419 and the 533 infrequent, often late and not following the timetabled schedule?

Route 419 has retained its previous frequency and timetable, however increased traffic in the area can have an effect on the ability of routes to maintain their scheduled timetable

Route 533 is operating on an initial timetable which we will evaluate further once the next set of changes is made. We do not anticipate a high volume of demand for this route given the length of time required to complete the journey.

Route 72

The removal of bus 72 south of Hammersmith has reduced accessibility to Roehampton University. Can this be improved in the future?  

Customers can reach Roehampton from Hammersmith by using the 220 and 265.  Route 220 parallels the 72 between East Acton and Hammersmith and then runs south via Putney Bridge.  Customers can change at Putney Bridge to route 265, which then runs via Roehampton Lane serving the University. 

However, we are reviewing the situation as there have been requests for a restored direct link between the southern end of Hammersmith Bridge and Roehampton Lane. 

The removal of bus 72 south of Hammersmith has reduced accessibility to Queen Mary Hospital. Can this be improved in the future?

Customers can reach Roehampton from Hammersmith by using the 220 and 265.  Route 220 parallels the 72 between East Acton and Hammersmith and then runs south via Putney Bridge.  Customers can change at Putney Bridge to route 265, which then runs via Roehampton Lane serving the University. 

However, we are reviewing the situation as there have been requests for a restored direct link between the southern end of Hammersmith Bridge and Roehampton Lane. 

Route 33

Can the frequency of Route 33 be increased?

We introduced extra journeys on the 33 on Monday 3 June to give 10 buses an hour during the peak periods. We are continuing to monitor the situation. 

Route 533

Can there be a more frequent service on the 533

We are looking at the feedback and data we have received, but currently have no plans to increase the frequency. We are, however, looking into staggering the timetables of the 533 and the 419, although this may vary by direction.

Is Route 533 Hail and Ride?

Route 533 is not Hail and Ride.

Can TfL review the timetables for 533 and 419 so they are staggered?

We will look into staggering the timetables, but it may vary by direction

Route 209

When can we expect to see the 209 bus route rerouted back to the Bridge?

We have listened to the concerns of passengers and responding to their desire for better bus links to the south side of Hammersmith Bridge. For the reasons detailed in my previous email, the changes will take several weeks to implement. We therefore expect more buses to be serving Hammersmith Bridge by early August.

When will the 209 bus service be rerouted 

Following feedback at your recent public meeting and received via our website, we are seeking ways to provide more links to the south side of Hammersmith Bridge. We have initiated discussions with the operators of bus route 209 with a view to sending a proportion of the service from Mortlake to Hammersmith south side rather than Putney Bridge.

Although this may seem like a relatively simple process, there are a significant number of practical issues, including some raised by residents near the south side of the bridge, to be addressed. New schedules need to be prepared by the bus operators which includes changes to bus drivers’ working times and duties for which they require sufficient notice. Additionally, we must ensure continued safe operation of the stand at Avondale Road in Mortlake if we run two routes from there, and the impacts of more buses turning at the Lonsdale Road / Castelnau junction area. As a result, any change will take four to six weeks to implement however I will keep you updated.

The stops on route 209 are quite far apart, can extra stops be added?

We are looking at additional stops on Barnes High Street, but this depends on approvals by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

Could the 209 be extended to serve Kew Retail Park?

We do not consider that there would be sufficient demand to justify an extension of the 209 to Kew Retail Park. It is already served by existing route R68 and customers can use the 419 from the Barnes area and change in the Chalker’s Corner area. 

Can extra serves be provided to reduce crowding?

Our data does not indicate that route 209 is overcrowded. We introduced extra journeys on the 33 on Monday 3 June to give 10 buses an hour during the peak periods. We are continuing to monitor the situation. 

Route 22

Could route 22 be extended to Barnes?

We are not currently considering extending the route 22 to Barnes. It would extend an already long route which impact route reliability and be expensive compared to the benefits. The current diversion of the 209 gives a high frequency link between Barnes and Putney Bridge where passengers can change to the 22.

For further information on Bus Routes please click HERE

 

Consultation (answers provided by TfL)

 

We introduced the changes as soon as possible on Saturday 18 May in order to improve links for customers affected by the bridge’s unplanned closure. However, we recognise the value of public feedback in shaping our plans, and are therefore inviting comments, which customers can submit by emailing yoursay@tfl.gov.uk. We will take this feedback into account before deciding whether to make any further changes later in the year.

The website shows the consultation will end on 1 October 2019. What will happen after this date?

We will continuously review the bus routes affected by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge and make alterations as necessary. After 1 October, we will continue to listen to your feedback. 

What will happen if I contact TfL?

If you would like to let us know your views on these changes then please contact us at yoursay@tfl.gov.uk. These will be listened to and will be used to help us review the changes.

If you would like to contact TfL with enquiries or complaints about these affected routes then please contact us by using our web form or calling us on 0343 222 1234.   

Will there be maps of the routes?

Maps for each affected route are now available on our website. We are currently producing a map which shows all the routes in the area.

The maps and signage is incorrect at the bus stops – will they be corrected?

We apologise that some maps and signage has been incorrect at bus stops. We are in the process of correcting this.

Travel apps appear to be providing incorrect information – will this be fixed?

We apologise that Journey Planner has provided incorrect information for some services. We are in the process of correcting this.

If I change buses, will I be charged?

Thanks to the Hopper fare, if you make a journey using pay as you go (contactless or Oyster) on a bus or tram, and you can make unlimited bus and tram journeys for free within one hour of first touching in. More information on the Hopper fare can be found here.

 

Other questions (Answers provided by TfL)

 

Have you reviewed the impact of pollution as a result of these new bus changes?

We are working as fast as possible to reduce tailpipe emissions from the entire bus fleet by introducing new ultra-low emission buses and retrofitting mid-life buses with improved exhaust systems to Euro VI emissions. Currently, over 7,300 buses meet Euro VI emissions or better, including 155 electric buses, and in 2020, the entire bus fleet will meet Euro VI emissions or better.

Can we have assurances lighting and security will be improved on the bridge for those crossing at night?

Contractors working on behalf of LBHF have installed additional lighting for the footways. They are also looking at installing additional CCTV.

Can a temporary bailey bridge be put alongside the current bridge for traffic

This matter is for LBHF, although TfL understands that a temporary bridge is unlikely to be viable as there insufficient available land.

Can repairs be made to the walkways whilst waiting for the longterm bridge repair?

As the owner of Hammersmith Bridge, this would be a question for London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF)

Will the bridge be left open only for pedestrians and cyclists longterm?

It is the intention of LBHF and Transport for London (TfL) for the bridge to remain open to pedestrians and cyclists during the duration of the works and this is what we will be working towards.

Can the lights be synced at Chalker’s Corner to improve traffic flow in East Sheen?

We are currently undertaking a signal timing review in the Chalkers Corner and East Sheen areas. This is likely to be ongoing for at least two more weeks (timing reviews take several weeks and involve data collection, observations, junction modelling and analysis). This means that we may make changes at the start of the summer holiday, when traffic levels are generally lower, and therefore further fine tuning will be required in September, when traffic levels resume to their new post-summer, post-bridge closure levels.

 

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