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Trial clipper boat service between Gravesend and London launches

By KentOnline reporter

A new boat service from Kent into London has launched today.

MBNA Thames Clippers is offering commuters the chance to swap wheels for water for four days this week and then tell them whether they would consider making the change permanently. 

The 220-capacity vessel is making the journey from Gravesend's Town Pier, off West Street, into central London and back again.

All aboard the new boat service to London

All aboard the new boat service to London

It will reach Canary Wharf in 48 minutes and Embankment in one hour and 10 minutes. 

There is a coffee bar on-board as well as toilets, daily newspapers and the chance to sit up on deck if the weather is nice. 

In exchange for the free trip, the company is asking passengers to fill out a questionnaire about their experiences and the sort of service they would like to see if it were to become permanent.

Sean Collins, chief executive officer at MBNA Thames Clippers, travelled on the first trial trip and said they could be a permanent fixture from Gravesend within 18 months.

The view from the boat

The view from the boat

He said: "There's been a burning desire to trial such a journey for many years, we've had a lot of prompting and requests from this area.

"We've now had the opportunity to release this vessel to carry out the trial.

"I think there's a potential opportunity for a permanent service.

Sean Collins, CEO of MBNA Thames Clippers

Sean Collins, CEO of MBNA Thames Clippers

"We could be looking at boats running every 40 minutes throughout the peak commuter period and potentially weekend services.

"There will need to be vessels built to operate the service but we could be looking at starting in 18 months to two years.

The clipper features a cafe

The clipper features a cafe

"The price should be comparable to others modes of transport."

Mr Collins said the company was pleased with how many people opted to try out the boat service and the speed with which they booked tickets.

Customers were asked to book a place in advance and the service is said to be fully booked.

Passengers take their seats

Passengers take their seats

The boat set sail from Gravesend

The boat set sail from Gravesend

The first sailing left Gravesend at 7.15am, and the return trip will depart from Embankment at 5.40pm.

The clipper sails away after dropping its last passengers off in London

The clipper sails away after dropping its last passengers off in London

Find out more on the MBNA Thames Clippers website.

Chief reporter Suz Elvey was on board the clipper, while reporter Ellis Stephenson compared his journey to London on the train.

Find out how they got on here.

 

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