Woolwich ferry to reopen with hybrids

TfL will resume the Woolwich ferry using hybrid propulsion Photo: LMG Marin TfL will resume the Woolwich ferry using hybrid propulsion Photo: LMG Marin

Transport for London (TfL) plans to resume its Thames crossing at Woolwich in February with the launch of two new hybrid diesel-electric ferries.

The two new boats, named Ben Woollacott after a former deckhand who died working on the ferry, and Dame Vera Lynn, after the legendary singer from east London, were built by Polish company Remontova.

The Mayor of London does not have direct powers to control emissions from river traffic but the Port of London plans to reduce emissions, recently publishing its strategy on how this might be achieved.

With this in mind, a hybrid-propulsion engine was chosen, providing greater fuel efficiency and reduced noise. The ferries are fitted with selective catalytic reduction systems and diesel particulate systems which, together with ultra low sulphur diesel fuel, will reduce emissions to 90% less particulate matter and 70% less NOx than legal standards.

Automatic mooring secures the vessels in their brand new berth using magnetic technology and the ferries can carry 45 cars and 150 foot passengers.

A ferry service across the Thames has existed since 1308 and a late nineteenth century act of parliament ruled the service must be free of charge. The current facilities opened in 1960 and around a million vehicles and 1.8m passengers use it every year.

Work began to replace these facilities in 2017 when the riverbed was surveyed to ensure no unexploded WWII bombs remained. In summer 2018, new restraint piles were installed in preparation for the final works - now underway - to replace the existing berth with floating pontoons and dredge the riverbed to make room for the new boats at low tide.

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