Putney River Commuters Up In Arms

Over threat to their commuter boat service



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Putney commuters are furious about the imminent loss of their much-loved river boat service after London River Services (“LRS”) awarded the five year contract to Thames Clippers with effect from 1st October 2012.

Complete Pleasure Boats Ltd (“CPB”) is a small privately owned company which presently operates the service from Putney to Blackfriars under licence from LRS having been appointed for a period of six months from 3rd January 2012 (now extended to nine months) following the LRS tender for the service in November last year.

The route is currently served by the Henley and the Viscount (pictured left), two historic boats built for the Thames which have been in regular service on the river for well over 100 years. The Henley recently carried members of the Royal Family during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant, having been chosen to form part of the Royal Squadron. The Viscount was built in 1908 and conscripted by the Navy in 1940 to bring British troops back from Dunkirk: the only time she has ever left the Thames.

The Putney to Blackfriars river commuter services was started by the Henley and its owner Captain Ed Langley of CPB, seven years ago. Following the London bombings Captain Langley thought that the Henley could provide a safe and reliable journey to work for South West London commuters.

A group of commuters who love their boat journey so much have clubbed together to fight the decision.

“This is a real case of David versus Goliath,” says commuter Fiona Nicolson, “Thames Clippers (who are majority owned by multi-national firm AEG Europe) are much larger than CPB. The government is supposed to be encouraging small innovative businesses and this decision has been a bombshell to a company which epitomises everything you would want from a small business. CPB is entrepreneurial, provides an excellent service which commuters love and has an excellent, hardworking and dedicated crew.”

Captain Ed Langley says:“We were told that under the new licence from LRS the Putney river service had to be operational by 3rd January 2012 so we got it up and running and our commuters love it (as they have for the past seven years). I believe that the LRS decision to award the five year contract to Clippers has not been fairly made and Bristows, our lawyers, are in correspondence with LRS about the decision. We care about our commuters and are very keen to keep the service running.”

CPB surveyed over 120 passengers and they were overwhelmingly in favour of wanting to continue to travel on the existing service for a variety of reasons, including the quality of service provided by the crew, the history of the boats, the fact that they are more environmentally friendly and the outside seating.

CPB is more than willing to continue to provide the commuter boat service from Putney even if it is alongside the Clippers. It’s a small entrepreneurial company which provides vital jobs to an experienced and loyal crew which due to this decision may lose their jobs.

“A very well established service which is personable and efficient. It is there for a strong community of long time commuters and I would ‘fight’ to keep it. Please save it!”

“Best river boat service there is on the river. It would be more than a shame to see them disappear. Truly the best way to travel into town.”

“If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!”

As Putney resident Tim Skipper says:
“Where else can you travel into town, famous London landmarks, get free coffee and toast, and always get a seat all for £4*.” (*travel card discount single fare)

Journey times are as follows (Monday-Friday):

• Putney – 7:30am and 8:00am – stops at Wandsworth (Riverside), Chelsea Harbour, Cadogan, Embankment and Blackfriars.
• Chelsea Harbour – 9:00am – stops at Cadogan, Embankment and Blackfriars.

• Blackfriars – 17:20, 18:25 and 19:25 – stops at Embankment, Cadogan, Chelsea Harbour, Wandsworth (Riverside), and Putney.

Onward connections are very easy as both Embankment and Black Friars piers are a few metres away from tube stations.

July 27, 2012