The two new state-of-the-art boats being delivered to the Woolwich Ferry next year have been officially named.
They are being called the Ben Woollacott, after a former deckhand who died working on the ferry, and Dame Vera Lynn, the legendary singer from east London.
Ben Woollacott's family has worked on the river for years - the deckhand was the sixth generation of famous Thames 'watermen'. They said they were delighted with the choice of name.
`Along with his crew mates and friends of the river, we thank Transport for London for naming one of the new Woolwich ferries after Ben,' they said. `It's a beautiful way to remember a son who loved this river heart and soul, a son dearly missed but now certainly never forgotten.'
Dame Vera Lynn said: "It is wonderful to hear that one of the new boats for the Woolwich Ferry service is to be named in my honour. I am truly humbled to have been chosen.'
The new vessels, costing around £20 million for both, are being constructed by Polish boat builders Remontowa and will extend the life of the historic river crossing for years to come.
They will come with specialised 'hybrid' engines allowing them to run on electricity generated by the motors.
To reduce emissions even more, they will be fitted with special state-of-the-art systems to treat their exhausts, cutting harmful nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions.
Mark Geldard, TfL's Rivers Services Manager, said: `These brand new environment-friendly ferries will give foot passengers and motorists a much-improved way of crossing the river, while helping to ensure cleaner air for Londoners. We're delighted with the choice of names. These will now be welded onto the hulls of these specially designed boats as their construction continues.'
The boats' advanced design and use of the very latest marine technology means they will require minimum maintenance when they enter service late in 2018. This means only two boats will be required to operate the services, rather than the current three. They'll be able to carry 40 cars each, an improvement of 14 per cent on the current vessels.
The new ferries will complement a range of new river crossings in East London recently announced by the Mayor of London. Along with the proposed Silvertown Tunnel, a proposed extension of the DLR from Gallions Reach to Thamesmead and the Elizabeth line which will open in 2018, the Woolwich ferry will provide quick and easy access across the Thames.
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