We need to plan for the future of the Woolwich Ferry, as the infrastructure there is nearing the end of its operating life. We also need to find ways to enhance transport connections across the Thames in this area.
One way to address both of these issues would be to establish a new vehicle ferry service between Thamesmead and Beckton (the ‘Gallions Reach Ferry’). A new ferry would provide a completely new cross-river connection and we could deliver it by around 2017. It would probably take a little over ten minutes to cross the river using the ferry (including waiting time), and a ferry would probably operate similar hours to those for the current Woolwich Ferry (from 06:10 to 20:00 on weekdays).
If we implement the Gallions Reach Ferry, it would be appropriate to consider whether we continue to operate the Woolwich Ferry, given that it serves a similar purpose.
Benefits of the Gallions Reach Ferry
A ferry service between Thamesmead and Beckton would make them better connected, which would make the areas more attractive for people to live, work and do business. A ferry here would also shorten journeys for many people who currently use the Woolwich Ferry, although it could lengthen trips for some others.
The Woolwich Ferry can carry around 150 vehicles per hour in each direction. We estimate a new ferry between Thamesmead and Beckton could carry up to 300 vehicles per hour in each direction. A new ferry would use modern infrastructure to ensure a quick and reliable service.
A ferry facility at Gallions Reach would allow us to offer plenty of space for vehicles waiting to board the ferry. This would allow us to manage queuing traffic more effectively and prevent ferry traffic delaying vehicles on the surrounding road network.
Connecting the Gallions Reach Ferry to the existing road network
On the north side, we could connect the ferry to Atlantis Avenue, or to Armada Way, or to the partially complete bridge structure over the Royal Docks Road. In each case, there would be a queuing area for ferry traffic, with an additional lane for buses which could also be used to accommodate other traffic if required.
The first two options above would be cheaper, but would increase traffic at the roundabout and developing areas by Gallions Reach DLR station, as more traffic would travel that way.
On the south side, we could link the ferry to the A2016 at Western Way with a new access road. Again, this new road would allow plenty of queuing space towards the ferry terminal, and should ensure that there are no significant delays on the A2016 as a consequence of the ferry. We would also aim to extend Barnham Drive across the ferry approach road – allowing local access between Central and West Thamesmead.
The highway links we are envisaging would be contained within an area safeguarded for a river crossing here.