Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader Stephen Cowan welcomed the ferry announcement but urged the government to get on with funding the Hammersmith Bridge stabilisation works.
He said: “While I’m very disappointed it’s taken so long for the government to get the ferry service agreed, this news will offer some relief to residents on both sides of the river. The real issue is getting the bridge stabilised so people can cross it again and that takes an initial £46m - a figure no council has available and which the government has refused to act on. The consequence of this is we could have been reopening the bridge to pedestrians next June. Now, it won’t even be re-opened next September.”
Transport for London (TfL) has today (Friday 6 November) announced it is seeking expressions of interest to run the ferry service. The procurement process was kick-started following a funding deal at the end of October between TfL and the Department of Transport.
With urgent procurement provisions in place it is anticipated the contract could be awarded in around 12 weeks time.
H&F, along with Richmond Council, have agreed to fast track any required planning permissions for piers and pontoons on both sides of the river.
The ferry will cut journey times for school children and local residents, who have had to take much longer routes to access education, leisure, medical care and work since the bridge was fully closed on public safety grounds in August.
The winning contractor will confirm the launch timetable for the service, but the current expectation is for passengers to be crossing the Thames in the spring.
TfL will make a further £4m contribution to urgent stabilisation and repair works to Hammersmith Bridge. The timetable for the full restoration of the 133-year-old Grade II-listed bridge and the funding required are being overseen by the government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce chaired by transport minister Baroness Vere.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport at TfL, also urged the government to move forward with the funding for the works programme. “I am pleased the procurement for a ferry service can now start, which will make a big difference to local communities and ensure Londoners can travel across the river. It is now vital that Government confirm funding for the stabilisation and strengthening of the bridge itself,” she said.