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Potential Gravesend Thames Clipper route could stop at Erith, Greenhithe and Essex, says CEO

PUBLISHED: 11:47 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:53 13 September 2017

Thames Clippers trial from Gravesend

Thames Clippers trial from Gravesend

Archant

MBNA Thames Clipper is currently trialling a scheme from Gravesend to London

A new route for Gravesend commuters via the River Thames would need at least two new £6million boats to make the voyage, a Thames Clipper boss has said.

Sean Collins, CEO of MBNA Thames Clippers, says it would depend on deals being struck to create suitable piers, as his company gauges would-be customers’ views during a trial this week.

Passengers set sail from Gravesend Town Pier on Monday morning for a one hour and 10 minute journey to Embankment, reaching Canary Wharf in 48 minutes.

The service is running this week until Thursday evening, and Mr Collins has said the sold-out trial has already gained a lot of interest from passengers.

Says Mr Collins: “The trial has been a total success so far, passengers have been asking a lot of questions to find out when a permanent service could be up and running and how much it will cost.

“These questions are the reason we are running this trial, I set up this company 18 years ago, and two years later people were asking me about a Gravesend service, the only reason we haven’t done anything sooner is because we’ve been working on other projects across London.

“We need to set out a full business case, it could take up to two years to start up a service, it would be great to see it stop at other places, such as Erith, Greenhithe, Dagenham and Thurrock.”

This week’s trial has seen 220-capacity boats run to and from the capital, but Mr Collins feels demand could be higher with a new stop.

“Because of demand we’d need to build at least two bigger boats, at around 300 capacity. They would cost around £6million each and then there’s the cost of running to consider.

“By having new, bespoke boats, the journey time wouldn’t be longer, but for now the idea of additional stops is something we would have to evaluate in a business plan, as we would have to bring in the cost of setting up dedicated piers for the service.”

A spokesperson from Bexley council responded: “We are not aware of any such proposal. There was a query raised with us about whether the service could stop at Erith pier but it does not have the facilities to allow a vessel to dock and fitting them would be very expensive.

“We are supportive of increased use of the river particularly for leisure and tourism, but the economics of a commuter service may be challenging. In this context we await the outcome of the trial with interest.”

A spokesperson from Gravesham Borough Council said: “We support everything MBNA Thames Clippers are doing and would welcome a regular service from Gravesend.”

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