Woolwich Ferry may be tolled as new river crossings proposed
July 10, 2009 by Adam Bienkov
Toll booths could be introduced at the Woolwich Ferry and for the first time, as part of plans to pay for a series of new river crossings, it was revealed today.
Current legislation prevents any tolls at Woolwich. However, this could change under proposals to upgrade the existing ferries and boarding facilities.
Plans announced today for a series of new bridges, tunnels, and ferries across the river could also mean that existing crossings will be tolled.
Among the new river crossings proposed by Transport for London today are:
1. A Foot/Cycle Bridge between North Greenwich and Canary Wharf
This would be an expensive and tricky project. It’s position on the Thames means that any bridge would need to be at least 50m high in order to allow ships to pass. Despite this, TfL say that it would be an “iconic” scheme and would be “strongly supported” by both Greenwich and Tower Hamlets. The Canary Wharf group and AEG (O2) have also agreed to the bridge in principle.
2. North Greenwich to Canary Wharf passenger ferry
Cheaper than the bridge, this would require new piers on the Western side of North Greenwich and the Eastern side of Canary Wharf. Journey times would be quicker than the existing services from the Eastern side of the Peninsula. Cyclists would be able to use the crossing and like all other river services it would be fully ‘oysterised’ under current plans by the Mayor.
3. Silvertown Crossing
Talked about for many years, Boris Johnson has already signaled that he’s keen on this project. Running from Silvertown to the Greenwich peninsula, the crossing would feed into the Blackwall Tunnel approach via John Harrison Way.
Both a bridge and a tunnel are under consideration by the Mayor, although the former would almost certainly meet strong resistance from environmental campaigners and from the Port of London Authority. On the other hand, the latter would be less attractive to pedestrians and carry added safety risks.
As with any road crossing, the biggest worry is that it would just add further congestion to an already highly congested and polluted area.
4. Woolwich Ferry Upgrade
TfL say that the current ferries and landing stages are “coming to the end of their life” Under today's proposals, tolls would be introduced to pay for replacement ferries and a full upgrade of facilities. Once finished, TfL say that the crossing would be able to carry a much greater volume of traffic. However, any tolling would need a change in the current legislation. TfL also say that tolling would be dependent on extra crossings being created elsewhere.
5. Gallions Reach Ferry (vehicles and pedestrians)
Following the route of the now abandoned Thames Gateway Bridge, this would be a relatively inexpensive way of opening up Thamesmead to much-needed extra jobs and transport links. Although not a long term solution, it would at least offer some extra provision to commuters and businesses. Supporters say that it would be unlikely to create anything like the influx of traffic that the Thames Gateway Bridge would have doneH.
6. Local Gallions Reach crossing
The final crossing under consideration, is effectively a smaller version of the Thames Gateway Bridge. Planned for a similar position as the TGB, this crossing would be designed for mostly local use, and unlike the TGB it has already received crucial support from Bexley Council.
Among the more ambitious plans ruled out by Transport for London today, were proposals for a joint vehicle and train Crossrail tunnel, and a cable car between North Greenwich and Canary Wharf. TfL say that the cable car would have created "significant access and privacy concerns" and would not have coped well with crowds at the O2.
The Mayor will now consider which, if any, of these proposals should go ahead.
The Mayor’s decision to drop plans for the Thames Gateway Bridge last year was strongly welcomed by the London Green Party, who had long campaigned against it. They are also supportive of today's plans for extra ferry and pedestrian crossings.
However, London Assembly Member for the Green Party Darren Johnson said today:
“Building a road tunnel or crossing is environmentally damaging and will do nothing to regenerate East london. The mayor is ignoring all the evidence that new roads just cause new traffic jams. It is incrediable that he would even consider building a new, traffic generating road, at a time when london is facing court action by the European commission over air pollution."
Labour Assembly Member for Greenwich Len Duvall said the Mayor should “come to his senses”:
"The reality that Boris Johnson has so far failed to accept is that the Thames Gateway Bridge is the real solution to east London's river-crossing needs. While it may be controversial to the few, it makes perfect sense for the many. A Silvertown crossing would have to go under rather than over the river and should be in addition to, rather than a replacement for, the Thames Gateway Bridge. Any other proposals, such as a pedestrian crossing, would have to allow for large ships to travel and berth up the Thames and would not redress the unequal distribution of vehicle crossings between west and east London.
"I'm glad the Mayor now finally accepts the need for a further crossing in east London, but his position still makes no sense. He opposes the Thames Gateway Bridge on environmental grounds, yet proposes a potentially damaging vehicle ferry and a road crossing at Silvertown. He should come to his senses, accept he made a mistake and go ahead with the Bridge for which London had already banked around £300 million of PFI credits."
Mayor Boris Johnson said earlier today:
“Anyone that has ever tried to cross the Thames in East London is aware of the lack of crossings and the congestion this causes. The residents and businesses in this part of London deserve better and I am absolutely determined to deliver the improvements they require. This report makes a series of sensible recommendations that we will now dig deeper into and that I will consider as I put together my transport strategy for the capital.”