A Fife marine contractor is celebrating after winning a £50 million contract to ferry Londoners across the Thames.
Burntisland-based Briggs Marine yesterday announced that it had won the lucrative seven-year deal to operate the Woolwich Ferry service in the east end of the UK capital.
The company sees the move into passenger transport as a “logical step” given its extensive expertise.
Managing director of Briggs Marine & Environmental Services Collieson Briggs said the firm had been awarded the contract by Transport for London subsidiary London River Services following a “rigorous” selection process.
“We are looking forward to working closely with London River Services and the Woolwich Ferry’s existing team, both to deliver a seamless transition and also to continue to improve on the safety, reliability and efficiency of this vital transport link.”
Briggs Marine will run the existing James Newman, John Burns and Ernest Bevin ferries, on a route close to both London City Airport and the Olympic Park.
It will also take on responsibility for the service terminals, offices and workshops, and will undertake maintenance and improvement works.
TfL said it hoped the contract award would extend the life of the vessels and riverside infrastructure, which have been in operation since the mid-1960s.
Briggs has significant experience on the Thames, and in operating long-term public service contracts and personnel ferry and transport vessels. However, this is the first public ferry service the company has run.
“In light of the company’s extensive and specialist marine skills, we see a move into passenger transport as a logical step,” a spokeswoman added.
“The continued safe and efficient operation of the Woolwich vessels is at the forefront of our minds on this project, and we also feel that the wide range of well-established skills that we can bring to bear in, for example, civil engineering will help to continue to improve the service and value that we can provide.”
The firm’s more traditional services include oil-spill response and subsea cable installation for oil and gas operations, while it is also targeting opportunities in offshore wind.
More than 100 members of TfL staff will transfer to Briggs when the contract begins in April, taking the company’s total staff to more than 600.
Around 100 are currently on the roll at the firm’s base in Fife.
The deal looks set to make a significant contribution to the top line of a company with an annual turnover of around £40m.
London River Services general manager Andy Thompson said he looked forward to working with Briggs to help “secure the future” of the Woolwich service.
“Briggs Marine bring with them a wealth of experience which I am sure will help the Woolwich Ferry to continue its important service for many years to come,” he said.
A ferry has operated at Woolwich since the 14th century, and at its current site since 1889.
Today, the free service links London’s north and south circular roads, carrying around 20,000 vehicles and 50,000 passengers each week equating to just over a million vehicles and 2.6 million passengers a year.