Regional network manager North West Electricity next month begins upgrade work worth £1million. A task will expedite the arrival of Lake Windermere’s first electric car ferry.
Engineers working in Windermere and Bowness alongside transport engineers in Cumbria will release new supplies, including for public electric vehicle charging points in several town car parks.
The county also intends to replace a 30-year-old diesel-powered ferry, the ‘Mallard’, with a new, faster electric alternative, allowing more crossings between towns via a 400m river section of the B5285.
Due to its age, the Old Bird is increasingly suffering from outages, resulting in unreliable service, including during peak holiday periods when tourist incomes are expected to be at their highest.
The measures announced in July should see shipyards across the UK and more widely invited to submit their ideas for an electrical design, before the formal tender takes place.
The objective is to place an order for the delivery of the new ferry, allowing the start of a new cable-hauled service in the spring of 2024.
Electric passenger boats are already a workhorse on many environmentally sensitive waterways across Europe. Berlin even has a trading company that rents solar-powered boats on the Weber and the Spree.
Along with the design and construction of a new ferry, the access road and slipway to reach the ferry will be reviewed as the current access and slipway may be flooded rendering the ferry unusable .
Commenting on the upgrades starting October 3 at Lake Road, Bowness, ENW Supervising Engineer John Wilkinson said: “This project has been in the planning for several months so we are pleased to now be able to confirm a beginning.
Keith Little, Cumbria councilor overseeing roads and transport, added: “Our plans for the brand new electric Windermere Ferry hinge on having this infrastructure in place. Improving the supply of charging stations for electric vehicles in this very touristic area will also be very beneficial for visitors and locals”.
Norway introduced the world’s first electric car ferry in 2015. The 80-metre twin-screw ‘ZeroCat’, pictured, can carry up to 120 vehicles and 360 passengers on the fjord crossing between Oppedal and Lavik. Designed and built by Siemens, the catamaran’s 800 kWh battery weighs 9 tons and would take only ten minutes to recharge.