Revolutionary “Green” Ferry Routes Proposed to Transform East London Connectivity

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In a groundbreaking move to enhance transportation links and stimulate economic growth in East London, the Port of London Authority has identified three potential routes for a “green” ferry service across the Thames. The proposal envisions a convenient “turn up and go” ferry system, set to be operational by 2026.

A report commissioned by the Port of London Authority, in collaboration with the Thames Estuary Growth Board, has presented a shortlist of feasible routes catering to pedestrians and cyclists. The suggested routes include a connection between North Greenwich and Isle of Dogs, another between the Royal Docks and Charlton, and a third between Barking Riverside and Thamesmead.

This initiative follows the unveiling of plans in September by a major ferry company, outlining a high-speed, battery-powered ferry service for pedestrians and cyclists between Surrey Quays and Canary Wharf. The company aims to launch this eco-friendly service by spring 2025.

The Port of London Authority initiated the study as part of an action plan aligned with the Thames Vision 2050, with the overarching goal of unlocking the economic, social, and environmental potential of the tidal river between Teddington and the North Sea.

All three proposed routes strategically target major development areas suffering from insufficient north-south connections. The southern piers for each route would be conveniently located within a 15-minute bike ride for over 100,000 Londoners, addressing the connectivity needs of the growing population.

The report estimates the cost of implementing the ferry service at £120m to £132m, significantly less than a bridge, which was considered a viable option until pre-pandemic times when plans for a walking and cycling bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf were abandoned due to an estimated cost of £460m.

Presently, cyclists in East London seeking to cross the river are limited to options such as the cable car (free for cyclists in the morning), walking through the Greenwich or Woolwich foot tunnels (subject to frequent lift closures), or utilizing the Woolwich ferry. However, these options have limitations, prompting the exploration of the ferry service as a sustainable and efficient alternative.

The Chief Executive of the Port of London Authority emphasized the Thames River’s potential to shape London’s “net zero future.” Drawing inspiration from successful ferry services in other cities, there is optimism about creating an affordable, low-carbon solution to tackle transport challenges in East London.

Echoing these sentiments, the Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board stressed the need for new and improved river crossings. Emphasizing that the Thames should not be viewed as a barrier but rather as a vital conduit for growth and connectivity, there is a call for ensuring accessibility for businesses and residents on both sides of the river.

London currently boasts 22 pedestrian and/or cycling crossings over the Thames to the west of North Greenwich, compared to just six to the east. Two specific stretches, between the cable car and Woolwich Foot Tunnel and east of the Woolwich ferry, currently lack any dedicated crossings.

As discussions around these proposed ferry routes gain momentum, attention is shifting towards recognizing the Thames River as a catalyst for positive change. Offering affordable and environmentally friendly solutions to address the transportation needs of East Londoners, these ferry routes could play a pivotal role in shaping the future of London’s transportation landscape. With potential benefits extending to reduced emissions, improved connectivity, and an enhanced quality of life, these ferry routes could usher in a new era for East London’s transportation network.

Dawn Jackson
Dawn Jackson
Journalist Dawn is an experienced business journalist specializing in regional coverage across the United Kingdom. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for uncovering stories that impact local communities, Dawn brings a unique perspective to her work. Through her insightful reporting, she keeps readers informed about the latest developments in various regions, shedding light on the economic landscape and entrepreneurial endeavours. Dawn's dedication to delivering accurate and engaging business news makes her a valuable asset to the News Write Ups team.

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