What we're doing

Two new boats will replace the current 55-year-old fleet and make the service more reliable and comfortable for customers. The new high-tech mooring system they will use is being installed at Woolwich and North Woolwich piers.

During the works drivers will need to use alternative crossings which may have height, weight and width restrictions. Check the traffic conditions or follow @TfLTrafficNews on Twitter.

The Woolwich Foot Tunnel will stay open for foot passengers and cyclists.

New boats

The new vessels will have more space, cycle-specific facilities and use a quieter, low-emission engine.

The boats are called the 'Ben Woollacott', after a former deckhand who died working on the ferry and the 'Dame Vera Lynn', after the legendary singer from east London. (Find out more about the history behind the names.)

They were built by Polish company Remontowa and will sail to London from Poland.


The improvements will contribute to the Mayor's Transport Strategy and support the Mayor's goals for cleaner air and more river transport.

Benefits for customers include:

  • Improved reliability
  • 14% more space for passengers and vehicles - the boats will be able to carry 150 passengers, with a total of 210 metres for vehicles across four lanes as well as dedicated cycle spaces
  • Step-free access
  • Enhanced safety - the new vessels will berth using magnetic technology, making them more stable to  board and alight

The new boats meet London's Low Emission Zone standards because they use a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. This means these boats will:

  • Be fuel efficient
  • Make less noise
  • Produce fewer emissions - two filtering systems like the ones used on London buses will reduce pollutants

What we have done

A survey of the riverbed completed in 2017 identified eight potential sites which could have contained unexploded World War II bombs. A dive team helped confirm that no unexploded devices were in the river bed where construction was taking place.

In June/July 2018 we installed new restraint piles behind the existing berthing structures to prepare for the final phase of works.

Next steps

After replacing the existing berthing structures with floating pontoon berths and incorporating an automatic mooring system, the river bed will be dredged to accommodate the new ferries at low tide.

The control system to link the ferry to the auto mooring system and the link span (bridge) will be installed and commissioned. Once this is done, we will carry out berthing trials.

Check back here for more information on the ferry's re-opening date. The Woolwich Foot Tunnel will stay open throughout the works.