13 Oct 2020

Final reports on Brisbane's wooden ferries delayed

More than two months after pulling nine monohulled ferries off the Brisbane River over safety concerns, Brisbane City Council is still waiting for technical reports to determine the next steps.

The ferries, eight of which had wooden hulls, were taken out of commission on the cross-river and CityHopper ferry routes on July 24

On Thursday, lord mayor Adrian Schrinner said the council was facing delays in gathering full reports into the fleet's condition as some experts were interstate.

"[Work] has unfortunately been slowed down a bit by the fact that some of the experts that we're dealing with are not based in Queensland," he said.

"But we'll get there and the soonest we can have the report finalised to determine what needs to be done to the timber ferries, we'll be sure to release it and let the community know."

Cr Schrinner said the wooden ferries "will be back".

"At this stage we don't know the cost of the repairs that need to be done, but they will be back," he said.

Conflicting reports on the ferries' condition from the council and their operator Transdev led to further disagreement over the future of the fleet, while the council was pushing Transdev to repair the wooden ferries.

The council-commissioned report, completed by Thompson Clarke Shipping, was based on condition reports for each ferry conducted by AMSA-accredited organisation Oceanic Design & Survey in mid-2019.

Two of the ferries - Mermaid and Lucinda - were identified as having "extensive deterioration of the hull" and needed to be pulled from work immediately, the report said, with Mermaid the worst affected.

Three other ferries were recommended to be removed as soon as possible for major work, and based on that report the council pulled all nine vessels.

Opposition leader Jared Cassidy said Brisbane commuters were "suffering" due to the delays.

"Adrian Schrinner has had more than three months to get these repairs under way and he hasn’t even sourced a quote yet," Cr Cassidy said.

"The lord mayor is blaming the virus and border closures, but at the same time can somehow miraculously import new KittyCats from Sydney."

A Transdev-commissioned visual hull condition survey completed on Mermaid by Maritime Survey Australia in late July found it was in "good condition" with some wear and tear, as "expected" on a 30-year-old ferry.

Since then, the ferries have been kept off the water while one steel-hulled ferry returned to operate the Bulimba-Teneriffe cross-river route.

New ferry operators SeaLink, scheduled to take over the ferry operation contact in November from Transdev, has brought five small ferries up from Sydney which are being modified to operate on the Brisbane River.

Those ferries will begin work from November 4 on the cross-river routes that have been left without ferry services, or reliant on additional CityCat ferries, since late July.

SOURCE : https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/final-reports-on-brisbane-s-wooden-ferries-delayed-20201008-p563ag.html

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