The Woolwich Ferry is to take a temporary hiatus after Christmas as Transport for London prepares to take over the service in a bid to improve reliability.
Sadiq Khan asked TfL back in February to review its options ahead of the expiry of its contract with Briggs Marine after over a year of delays, cancellations and even strike action.
The Woolwich Ferry was plagued with technical difficulties ever since the start of 2019, and by November that year the running time lost to delays was already equivalent to an entire month.
So TfL decided to take the service back in-house, and as of January 2021, Briggs Marine will no longer run the ferry service.
But the transport body has announced that the free car and pedestrian ferry will now not run from January 2 to January 8. as well as being closed over the Christmas bank holidays, to allow for the changeover.
TfL said they are closing the service to allow time to train staff and improve its mooring equipment.
The Woolwich Ferry, which runs from Woolwich to North Woolwich, will then open on January 9 restricted to just one boat.
The two new ferries came into service last year, costing TfL £20m, but have had continued problems with both the generators and the magnetic docking systems.
Last year the Mayor of London admitted “dropping the ball” on the issue, and said these problems should’ve been sorted out in the factory, not in the River Thames.
Workers on the Woolwich Ferry have also been trapped in what they dubbed “an employment horror show” with the current contractors, Briggs Marine.
Unite workers argue the company is failing pay the London living wage, which it claims it does, as well as issues with unfair shift working and failure to properly deal with equality issues.
Making the announcement in February, Sadiq Khan said he “shared passengers’ frustration at the unacceptable closures they have faced over the past year.
“I am delighted that TfL is set to take over the contract – bringing a renewed focus on Londoners’ needs including better reliability and customer service.”
This will then be extended to two boats later in the month.