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TfL set to take over running the Woolwich Ferry to ‘improve reliability and customer service’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 February 2020

TfL plans to take over running the Woolwich Ferry by the end of 2020. Picture: TfL

TfL plans to take over running the Woolwich Ferry by the end of 2020. Picture: TfL

TfL

Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed it will take over operation and maintenance of the Woolwich Ferry by the end of the year.

TfL says the plan means passengers will benefit from improved reliability and customer service.

Ferry operator Briggs Marine has agreed a short-term extension to the current contract, which was expiring on March 31, while TfL moves towards taking over the service.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had asked TfL to review its options for the management of the ferry ahead of the contract expiry.

TfL concluded that taking over operation and maintenance would "ensure a higher level of control" and, by using its experience and resources, would "improve the customer experience".

Mr Khan said: "The Woolwich Ferry is an important part of London's transport network, and I share 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."

The ferry service has been plagued by worker strikes over pay and conditions in recent months - most recently on December 19, which followed on from 10 days of disruptions last summer.

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Two weeks ago, trade union Unite - which represents 56 ferry workers - announced further 24-hour strikes were planned for February 28 and March 13.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab: "We recognise that we are now entering into a new industrial relations environment and we are prepared to suspend these two strikes if TfL engages directly with us to resolve the outstanding issues."

The union has long been calling for TfL to take over running the service and Mr Kasab added the decision was "a victory for our campaign".

The transition to TfL operation is expected to be completed by the end of this year, following the necessary preparation work and employee consultation.

TfL director of rail and sponsored services Jonathan Fox said: "Taking the operation of the Woolwich Ferry in-house will increase the focus on its performance, ultimately delivering an improved experience for our customers.

"We would like to thank Briggs Marine for running this operation over the years, and particularly for supporting us through the upcoming transition period."

The free vehicle and pedestrian ferry service is used by an estimated 50,000 passengers each week.

A spokeswoman for Briggs Marine said: "Briggs welcomes TfL's extension to its current operating contract.

"The company looks forward to continuing close cooperation to ensure safe and effective transition of the operation to TfL."

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