Thank you to all our service users for their support and patience while the works to replace the badly worn pulleys on the gantries used by LYNHER have been carried out.The pulleys, which secure the chains to each side of the river, are essential for the safe operation of the ferries. The replacement pulleys have had to be specially manufactured, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic meaning some parts had to be ordered from the Czech Republic. Extensive works have also taken place to prepare the gantries in readiness for the new pulleys to be fitted.
The replacement pulleys have now been manufactured and are currently being delivered to the site, with a specialist contractor due to begin the ‘reassembly’ works next week. Once this has been completed ferry staff will remove the towing equipment from the Devonport end of the ferry and begin the final preparations to enable LYNHER to be available for service. This is expected to take up to two weeks.
We also need to install safety guardrails in the LYNHER’s gantry. This essential safety work was due to be carried out during the refit, but had to be postponed when the contractor was furloughed. As traffic levels are still lower than usual, with two ferries continuing to meet demand, this work will now be carried out during the first week of August.
While the successful completion of these works means that the LYNHER should be available for service by the second week of August, we are currently assessing the impact of the Covid 19 restrictions on staffing levels before making a final decision on when to re -introduce a three ferry service.
The suspension of recruitment during the lockdown period meant we were unable to fill a number of vacant posts within the ferry operations team. While we have now interviewed and offered contracts to three candidates, pending final employment checks, we still have to carry out further interviews in the next few days to fill all the vacancies.
The need to keep the service running during the lockdown also means that existing ferry staff have been unable to take any leave during the past four months. We are very grateful to these members of staff and are working with them to manage this situation. However this may mean that we do not have the staffing levels required to go back to a full three ferry service immediately. We will, however, have all three ferries available to be used in case of any mechanical issues with either of the in service ferries.
Although the combination of the Covid 19 pandemic and the issues with the pulleys have created significant challenges for Tamar Crossings, we have worked hard to keep people moving across the river using two ferries with minimal impact on scheduled service. While we are committed to re-introducing a three ferry service as quickly as possible, we need to ensure that we have the staffing in place to do this safely. With traffic levels currently around 75% of the usual figure, we can continue to meet demand with two ferries in operation while the staffing issue is resolved.