Ben Woollacott
Ben Woollacott is named after a deckhand who died in an accident in 2011

A senior Greenwich councillor has criticised TfL over continuing delays in the reopening of the Woolwich Ferry, branding the mayor’s transport agency “uncooperative” in its handling of the refurbishment of the ferry.

The service has been closed since October so it can be adapted for new vessels, Ben Woollacott and Dame Vera Lynn, which arrived in November.

TfL had planned to reopen it at the beginning of the year. But the opening has been delayed, with no date given for the service resuming beyond “early February”.

Asked about the issue by Conservative councillor Charlie Davis in Wednesday night’s full council meeting, transport cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald said in a written answer that TfL had been “unwilling to indicate a more precise date for opening, nor the exact cause of the delays”.

Davis pressed the issue further, saying he was baffled how Greenwich Council could have no information on what was wrong with the ferry or when it would reopen. Scott-McDonald agreed, saying: “I’m absolutely frustrated with TfL and they have not been very cooperative.”

“We are pushing them – it’s quite disappointing, but we’re just going to keep pushing,” she said.

The two new vessels replace their three predecessors Ernest Bevin, John Burns and James Newman, which had plied the route since 1963. They were taken out of service in October, sailing to a recycling facility in Le Havre, northern France.

When finally ready, Woolwich’s new ferries will provide 14 per cent more space than the old vessels and will be able to carry 150 passengers, with a total of 210 metres of space for vehicles and dedicated cyclist spaces across four lanes.

Ben Woollacott and Dame Vera Lynn will be the fourth set of ferries on the crossing since it became a free service in 1888.

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