The London Assembly transport committee has written to Transport for London in the wake of the cancellation of the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf bridge to urge them to review and improve their business planning process, so that under-funded and undeliverable projects are not progressed as a result of unrealistic engineering proposals and low cost estimates.
The committee has also sought further detail and clarification on the proposed ferry service.
Budget projections for the bridge project soared from £120-£180 million in November 2017, to £463 million in March 2019 and now latest estimates stand at exceeding £600 million.
Navin Shah AM, chair of the Transport Committee, said:“How did TfL get its sums so wrong? This major infrastructure project is key to unlocking this part of east London in terms of active transport links, jobs and homes.
“A ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is a much cheaper alternative, but we have questions over its cost, frequency, commencement of the service and whether it will be free to use.”
“TfL must improve how it costs major infrastructure projects and ensure that projects of this kind have realistic costings and plans, so that Londoners are not continually disappointed time and again.”
As a local business with its founding roots in Rotherhithe, Thames Clippers is supporting Rotherhithe Illuminated! – a community-led legacy lighting scheme – with a donation whilst also urging other local organisations and residents to donate if they can.
In commemoration of Rotherhithe’s key role in the Mayflower story – Rotherhithe Illuminated! will shine a new light on this historic part of London, illuminating elements of five historic buildings.
When lit, the spire of St Mary’s church and the chimneys of Thames Tunnel Mills and Brunel’s Engine House will be visible from Tower Bridge, London Bridge and from across the river in Wapping.
People travelling along the river on-board Thames Clippers boats at night will be able to enjoy the installation, increasing community and cultural awareness.
2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage to the new world. The Mayflower was captained by local resident, Master Christopher Jones, and Rotherhithe was also the ship’s home port.
Whilst organisations like Thames Clippers and Port of London Authority (PLA) have already contributed significantly towards the £95,000 overall cost of the project, £35,000 is still needed to complete the project, for which a public JustGiving page has been set up.
Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown has given an update on plans for an upgraded ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to replace the abandoned proposed for a walking and cycling bridge.
Mr Brown was questioned by Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince at a meeting of the City Hall transport committee.
Asked about the cost of the ferry link, Mr Brown said: “Well, I don’t have the exact figure at the moment.
“And the reason for that is that this is in the early stages, we’re looking at what land purchases may be required and where those land purchases will be – particularly on the south side of the river.
“We’re also exploring what sort of technology might be applied and what the market could deliver in terms of the greenest possible ferry.
“It’s quite challenging because these there aren’t – when you look around the world – easily deliverable green ferries at the moment, so we might have to consider whether we at least explore the the options for some hybrid ferries in this regard.
“So there is a sort of headline number allocated to the ferry in the business plan, but it’s very much at a working level and just for some of the early stages of exploration of this.
“My imperative is to get on with this as quickly as I can, notwithstanding some of the challenges with the land purchase, and with some of the other commercial issues.
“It’s pleasing to see that we have got, good support, for example, from Canary Wharf on the north side. It I’m sure we’ll get on and deliver this and it will be a great boost for access across the river at that location.”
Pressed by Mr Prince as to when passengers might be able to use the ferry, Mr Brown said: “Well, again, that’s depends on the technology. And I’m not trying to be evasive here.
“It genuinely is a discussion that we’re having ourselves with the supply chain, with potential manufacturers – with potential operators as well actually – is how quickly we can do it.
“So I’ve pushed my team … very hard on on pinning them down to a date.
“But what I don’t want to do is give an artificially optimistic date here that can’t be delivered because we haven’t done all the groundwork yet.
“There is more work to do before I can categorically tell you that.”
Local residents are being invited to show their support for a project to create a seven-metre artwork from parts of the ‘red crane’ or scotch derrick that used to stand on the riverside near Odessa Street.
Local blacksmith Kevin Boys rescued some of the parts of the crane when it was dismantled to make way for a new housing development.
The developer, Hollybrook Homes, has part-funded the artwork project and built a plinth for the sculpture on the Thames Path – but more cash is needed to complete the project.
Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown has given an update on plans for an upgraded ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to replace the cancelled bridge project.
“We are continuing to examine options for a new ferry service, with work focused on route planning, fares, vessels, piers and connectivity to the local area,” wrote Mr Brown in his report to the TfL board.
“Initial feasibility work has been completed and an informal update was provided to the Programmes and Investment Committee in October.
“We are now continuing work to develop our requirements for the service, identify preferred infrastructure options, and determine a suitable delivery and operating model.
“The work on a new ferry to improve connectivity for people who walk or cycle between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is alongside the wider investment we are making in walking and cycling across the area, including delivery of Cycleway 4 and new cycle routes from Rotherhithe to Peckham and from Hackney to the Isle of Dogs.”
The Rotherhithe link is also featured in TfL’s new passenger pier strategy published last week. That document says that: “Options include new or improved piers at Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, together with roll-on, roll-off electric or hybrid high frequency ferries to reduce waiting times.
“The Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf ferry would serve as a test case for assessing the feasibility of providing similar high-quality pedestrian and cycle links in other locations in east London, including Opportunity Areas, where the river is currently a barrier to encouraging healthier travel choices.”
Thames tour boat firm City Cruises, which operates from Bermondsey’s Cherry Garden Pier, has been sold to Chicago-based Hornblower Cruises & Events.
City Cruises was founded in 1985 and now has operations in York and at Poole Harbour in addition to its core Thames business.
“We are incredibly excited to acquire City Cruises, which we believe to be the best leisure cruise operator in Europe today,” said Terry MacRae, CEO of Hornblower.
@We have long had the ambition to enter the European market, and it makes perfect sense to start our journey in one of the most iconic cities in the world.
“Under the expert stewardship of Gary and Rita Beckwith, City Cruises has earned an enviable reputation, and we are honoured to build on their legacy in 2020 and beyond.”
Gary Beckwith OBE, City Cruises founder and CEO, said: “We believe the sale of City Cruises to Hornblower will take the brand to the next level of success.
“We have always been at the forefront of change and believe our growth and success over the years is testament to our commitment to embracing innovation, constantly investing in our vessels and our customer experiences, and our dedication to providing outstanding customer service every day of the year.
“We have been honoured to be at the helm of City Cruises and believe the business we started will further flourish and grow under Hornblower’s ownership.”
Hornblower Cruises & Events President, Kenneth Svendsen, leads the combined company. All staff will be retained, with founders Gary and Rita Beckwith assisting in the transition.
Southwark Council’s cabinet this week agreed to launch a consultation on the future of South Dock Marina and Boatyard.
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting heard a public question and a deputation from members of the bertholders’ association who aired concerns about future residential development which could generate complaints from residents about noisy activity at the boatyard.
In his foreword to the cabinet report, Cllr Richard Livingstone wrote: “The ideas set out in the report include how the marina could be expanded to better meet the demand for people to live on the marina; how the infrastructure of the area could be improved to meet the needs of berth holders and the broader community; how the space at the boatyard could be developed to both enhance its operation and provide new council homes; and how to give berth holders greater certainty on future fee increases.”