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HBSOS Meeting with TfL re Ferry 19 March 2021

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Members of HBSOS met with TFL on Friday 19th March 2021 to hear their update on progress with the ferry. Below is a summary from that meeting, as well as the slides that TFL shared with us (bottom of page).

( TfL are asking the public to use the email address to let them know their thoughts on the ferry - such as how long it’s taking to put it in place, the potential routes, landing points, proposed capacity and running hours etc )

Commencement: TFL say they hope to have the ferry running by the end of summer and are conscious of the school term dates. However they also gave the impression that Autumn might be more realistic and also talked about being ‘hopeful to have the ferry well before the year end’: they mentioned October/November.

This was very concerning.

Operator: TFL have chosen an operator and that will be announced ‘shortly’. They are very conscious of the purdah issues relating to the upcoming Mayoral Elections (May 5th) though said this would not delay the announcement. Once the final bidder is known, they can get on with detailed plans, local consultation, permissions and construction.

Capacity and Operational Hours: TfL confirmed the ferry would run from 6am - 10pm with a reduced hours service at the weekend. It would carry 800 (400 each way) at peak hours.

HBSOS queried this as being inadequate.

In response TfL said they had to use small boats because of the state of the river and planned on two small boats, each taking 50** passengers and about 5 minutes for the journey. There would be a 3rd boat as back up and if the numbers proved to be larger they could re-consider the use of an extra boat.

HBSOS raised the issue of the hours.

Explanation: 16 hours represented the maximum viable at the current cost. Longer hours would require an extra shift with the consequential implications for cost. TFL emphasised that on both numbers and hours they would consider changing in response to demand.

TFL also said there had been a lot of resistance from residents, particularly on the north side, and limiting hours of operation was one way of mitigating those concerns.

** UPDATE 26 March 2021. After reading our summary of what was said at the meeting TfL have come back with a correction on the passenger numbers. Each boat will actually hold 62 passengers. Apparently crossings will last 90 seconds and they hope to run one each way every 5 minutes. We are unclear if bikes and buggies etc reduce the number of passengers that can get on each transfer - but it would seem a realistic, if un-affirmed, assumption that this would be the case. We are unclear how social distancing will affect these numbers.

Funding: The funding seems less secure than previously thought. The existing funding arrangements with Government fall at the end of this month and new funding arrangements will have to be agreed. They were reasonably confident that the ferry would remain a high priority and were working on that basis.

Sites: TfL have looked at a number of sites based on the principles outlined on one of the early slides. Ownership of the land bank is a critical issue for them - easier to negotiate with a public authority than with a private owner and they want to avoid compulsory purchase because of legal issues and timing implications. They have ruled out a site upstream (West) of the bridge for what seemed like sensible logistical reasons. They have also ruled out a site by the River Cafe (East) as being too far away from Hammersmith Bridge.

On the North side they are looking at two sites: Fulham Reach and Queen Caroline Wharf. Both are possible and both have some issues. At Fulham Reach the land bank is owned by Berkeley Homes which could be tricky. They were very clear they would not put the Fulham Reach Rowing Club out of business and would not use their wharf. Queen Caroline Wharf is very near the exclusion zone but is the best for ongoing transport connections. There are some engineering issues (a very long pontoon to get to deep water) but there are solutions available. Residents around both sites are ‘difficult’ and work will have to be done in preparation for planning applications to ensure their concerns are addressed.

On the South side there are also two sites: Harrod’s Wharf and a site near the bridge.

The site near the bridge is closest to the road and the land bank is owned either by the PLA or LBRuT. However, there would have to be a raised path structure because of high tide flooding and lighting between the wharf and Castelnau.

Harrod’s Wharf also possible but also has some issues. The planning permission sits with LBRuT not TfL. TfL do not want a permanent structure nor require any commercial operation. Access through Harrod’s Village would need to be assured.

All four sites on the North and South of the river can be connected to provide the route in any configuration. The choice of site will not be dependent on the choice of operator.

Permissions: After the operator is announced, detailed plans will be developed and permissions sought. Permits will be required from The Environment Agency (EA), the Port Of London Authority (PLA) and The Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

These can be applied for at the same time.

The MMO application is the one that might possibly hold things up: currently the MMO is short staffed and permits are taking 13 weeks. However TfL is giving cash to the MMO to pay for staff to do this work in the hope that it will shorten the time period.

Construction: TfL expect the construction phase to be quick with most of the material coming up the river. They are already getting on with acquiring pontoons etc - doing this at risk prior to the permits being awarded.

Shore Infrastructure: LBRuT is putting money into providing shore infrastructure.

LBH&F will not, but TfL will meet this shortfall.

In Summary: Essentially there are three phases:

• Plans & designs

• Permissions

• Construction

TfL will keep us informed and plan to do more consultation once the detailed design plans are available.

TFL shared this presentation 'Briefing for Landing Site Selection' with us:

(click on the first page below and navigate through with the arrow on the right hand side)

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