Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf ferry construction to begin next year, says TfL

Josh Salisbury (06 March, 2020) Transport

Residents overwhelmingly backed a bridge - but TfL junked the project saying it was too unaffordable

35282Artist impression of the ferry service

TfL has said it expects construction of a new ferry service between Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf to begin next year.

A cheaper ferry option for the river crossing became the agency’s preferred option after cost estimates for a proposed bridge across the Thames spiralled to more than £600m.

Last week, chair of the London Assembly’s transport committee, Navin Shah AM, accused TfL of getting its sums wrong on the Rotherhithe Bridge, and demanded answers on how the ferry service would run.

Estimated costs for a walking and cycling bridge jumped five-fold from £120m in just two years, causing TfL to junk the project in July – despite the idea being overwhelmingly backed by both local councillors and residents.

Now TfL says it is progressing plans for a “clean, fast ferry service” with a second consultation on the designs to be expected in summer.

“We are absolutely committed to improving cross-river connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly in east London where there is a pressing need,” said Heidi Alexander, the deputy mayor for transport.

“This new rapid ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf would make it even easier for Londoners to get around the capital by bike or on foot and would bring a boost to businesses in the area.”

Consultants have also been brought on board to assess how TfL could run the service, including whether it could be free to customers.

TfL added that it was considering where new cycle docking stations could be added to cycle routes in the area, including to areas planned to link into the pier where the ferry would depart from.

In original consultation in March 2018, 93 per cent of residents backed a navigable river crossing at some kind between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

85 per cent backed a navigable bridge.

Contribute

No-one is challenging the absurd headline costing of £602M for the bridge. I believe the correct figure is nearer £100M.

This apparently stunning statement has pretty solid justification as follows:

(1) Jacques Chaban-Delmas vertical lift bridge in Bordeaux

https://brunelbridge.london/jacques-chaban-delmas-bridge/) crosses a similar span, but is massive by comparison – it offers 4 traffic lanes, 2 monorail tracks and 2 sidewalk/bikeways. The delivered cost was only £145M

(2) Sarah Mildred Long vertical lift bridge in the US

https://brunelbridge.london/sarah-mildred-long-bridge/ – Again, a comparable span but otherwise much more massive – if offers rail, road, cycle and is a double decker. The delivered cost was only £122M

(3) Analysis of the TfL figures reveals massive bloat and double counting

Stripping out the bloat and double counting reduces the TfL figure from £602M to £174M

https://brunelbridge.london/we-challenge-tfl-costings/

Question for TfL:

If the massive French and US vertical lift bridges can be build with a similar span but carrying road and rail can be built for less than £150M, how can it cost £602M to build a puny cycle/pedestrian bridge in London? Surely £75-100M would be a more realistic figure.

In regard to the ferry option, TfL had already rejected this in favour of a bridge with good reason, so why is it the correct option now?

We list 12 disadvantages of a ferry:

1. We keep hearing we might have to pay a fare for the ferry. Using the bridge was planned be free of charge, like any other bridge in central London. Even the Woollwich Ferry which carries road traffic is free! Why should TfL exploit us on this crossing when all others are free?

2. Constant interruptions and delays due to need to give way to normal river traffic

3. Chaos of (proposed) 3 ferries using a narrow stretch of the river, interacting with normal river traffic

4. Manpower costs for the three ferries proposed would be significant – we assume 18+ personnel for three vessels and two shifts x 7 days a week

5. Unlikely to be 24/7 operation

6. Potential for interruption of service at low tide and in adverse weather

7. Greater potential for strike action (look at issues we get periodically on the tube)

8. Delays during embarkation and disembarkation and waiting for the ferry

9. The existing ferry fails to keep to the timetable and there is no reason why this would change with a new ferry

10. Electric ferries are unlikely to be viable and operation of diesel engines (on the proposed three ferries) would cause constant noise and pollution. This would add to environmental damage at exactly the time when other transport solutions are going green

11. The proposed 3 ferries will need to be replaced periodically. Coupled with the higher running costs, the whole of life bridge costs are likely to be substantially less than the ferry

12. Transit time with a bike on the bridge is likely to be significantly quicker. The Ferry will inevitably be slower, allowing for wait time, crossing time, docking, loading/unloading and delays due to river traffic

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