diamond geezer

 Monday, September 17, 2012

It is perhaps not a surprise to discover that Water Chariots have gone bust.

3 Sep 2010: Water Chariots Limited founded.
5 Oct 2010: A hop-on hop-off waterbus serving the Olympic Park in east London will be launched by next spring, British Waterways has said. The service will operate on the River Lee between Limehouse Basin, passing through Three Mills, and Old Ford Lock outside the park's entrance. The bid to operate 10 waterbuses on the route was won by Water Chariots group. Peter Coleman, of Water Chariots, said: "We're also planning for the legacy phase, when we hope to convert some of the barges into hire boats, giving people the opportunity to explore London's canals and rivers." (BBC News)

12 Apr 2011: According to the blurb, the route involves "cruising serenely under the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road", then passing Three Mills, "an area of exceptional beauty, right in the heart of the city." If this business model survives eighteen months without sinking I'll be amazed. (diamond geezer)
14 Jul 2011: Water Chariots will be operating a canal boat service to the Olympic Park in Stratford for the 2012 Games. Departing from Limehouse near Tower Bridge and from Tottenham Hale in North London, the public service will run every twenty minutes and deliver visitors right next to the park. (Water Chariots website)
14 Jul 2011: The waterbus route has been made possible following investment of £300,000 by British Waterways, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the Olympic Delivery Authority. (LTGDC website)
15 Jul 2011: Do you travel to the Games for nothing by public transport using your freebie paper travelcard? Or do you pay an extra £40 return to get there more slowly at water level? It's not going to be a difficult choice, is it? I'd love to see a River Lea waterbus service thrive, I really would. But with such an ill-thought-out over-optimistic business model, I really can't see Water Chariots staying afloat. (diamond geezer)

17 Apr 2012: Two cruisers are now fitted out and moored up beneath Forman's balcony, ready for corporate clients to step aboard for a glass of bubbly and the delights of the backside of Limehouse. As for their scheduled waterbus service for mere members of the public, originally pledged to kick off last June, we're now promised prices and a timetable next month, probably. I'd save your money, steer well clear and walk, if I were you. (diamond geezer)
14 May 2012: Water Chariots is charging £95 for adults and £50 for children for the journey to the Park from either Tottenham Hale or Limehouse Marina. Founder Peter Coleman said the cost covered security and staff, and provided people with direct entry to the Games without having to queue. But local Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick called the price "ridiculous". (BBC News)
15 May 2012: This is not what was promised last summer when Water Chariots launched. Suddenly the price has more than doubled, in a transparently money-grabbing "well, we might as well take them for everything we can get" kind of a way. (diamond geezer)
30 May 2012: @GAOTG The most direct traffic free way to the games is by Water Chariots, Why is this not mentioned on your website ? #GAOTG (@waterchariots on Twitter)

11 Jun 2012: Water Chariots was chosen, a British Waterways spokeswoman said, "as they presented a sound business plan that had significant legacy value". Some of the 80-passenger boats will be converted after the Games into self-hire vessels based at Limehouse, while others will continue to be used for general transport. The hope is that this will help attract visitors to the area, which has significant economic deprivation, after the Games. (The Guardian)
21 Jun 2012: Children were asked to to think of some names for boats that go up and down the river. We had some really good ones! These names were all emailed off to Mr Bill Doughty who is the CEO of the boat company Water Chariots. He and has team picked Azid’s one as the best and so the boat would be christened ‘Usain Boat’ ...by Prince Charles! (a lovely report from Ferry Lane Primary School) (photo)
22 Jun 2012: @diamondgeezer Our corporate packages are selling very well, Our £45 return trip has been launched today. Why not come and have a look? (@waterchariots on Twitter)
24 Jun 2012: For VIPs arriving via Battersea Heliport, here's the official Water Chariots promotional video (on YouTube)
25 Jun 2012: Right. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only way to get to the Games... I’m sipping champagne from the bar as the boat chugs at a stately 4mph up the Lea Valley Navigation towards the Olympic Park’s Victoria Gate. (Evening Standard review)

12 Jul 2012: Water Chariots Limited (07365092) changes its name to River Subco Limited. A new Water Chariots Limited (08064572) is registered. (Narrowboat World are now suspicious)
15 Jul 2012: With the road chaos that'll be surrounding the Olympics, this really is the fastest way to get around. (American news report from CCTV)
27 Jul 2012: Twelve boats are moored up by the pontoon at Limehouse Basin, and some last minute fitting out is taking place. If you choose to pay £45 for the two mile return trip to the Olympic Park you'll be sitting on a hotel-buffet-style chair, four abreast, set out on the mop-clean metal floor. Meanwhile, under the DLR viaduct, the hospitality zone is being laid out with champagne parasols and burger vans. Water Chariots are particularly keen that you turn up 40 minutes before your sailing, presumably in the hope you might buy some Moet & Chandon and something with onions. (diamond geezer)
30 Jul 2012: Before you know it, 40 minutes has flown by and you have effortlessly glided your way straight to a stones throw of the Olympic Park. Now that is a smooth ride which beats a sweltering tube ride or traffic jam any day. (Time Out blog review)
31 Jul 2012: Expect it to be a hit. Especially in the second week once the horror stories of the first have filtered through and panic measures are deployed. (review from The Wharf)

9 Aug 2012: Nobody wants to travel to the Olympic Park by water bus because the predicted travel chaos hasn't materialised and they all have a free travelcard anyway. At Tottenham Hale three members of WC staff sit around enjoying the sunshine, if not the passengers. At Limehouse the champagne bar has vanished to be replaced by a coffee cart, and two-thirds of the fleet lies tied up by the jetty going nowhere. I walked a mile and a half along the Limehouse Cut and saw only one barge go by, with only six passengers aboard, while several moorhens enjoyed the silence. (diamond geezer)
9 Aug 2012: The hideously overpriced canal boat service taking people from Limehouse to nearish to the Olympic Park seems to have finally bowed the inevitability of their reportedly near-empty boats. A few days after revamping their website, they have today finally slashed their prices. Yesterday £45 return, today £20 return. (Ian Visits)
10 Aug 2012: We used their service on Friday 10th August from Tottenham Hale to Victoria Gate. Only we never made the Olympic stadium – there was a barrier across the canal and we were ‘dumped’ on the towpath and told a shuttle bus would be along. No, the buses were for officials. We had a 2 mile walk to the nearest public gate! Outrageous. The whole point of using them was to get within 75 metres of the stadium and then return at night. We got home via the Javalin. (comment from Peter Hills)
21 Aug 2012: We have received no funding from anywhere other than private investment. It is a shame that much of the good work done by us seems to be over looked, instead we get stick over issues that are nothing to do with us. WC have employed over 50 people and are funding a training program to qualify as many of them as possible to Boat Master level. The majority of our team are made up of local people and ex service men and women. Our barges are British built and contrary to popular belief they are paid for. (Water Chariots on the Canalworld forum)
22 Aug 2012: We had 1 glass of champagne, and the rest of the passengers were treated to a glass as well, who hadn't paid for the VIP package. In short there was no difference in the £95 VIP and the standard £45 package - except that we were a £100 lighter off. To make matters worse, when we wanted to return later that evening and having checked the boats ran all night, we were told they had stopped running for the night - so we had to get a taxi home. (Comment from JM)

4 Sep 2012: Due to events beyond our control and until further notice, we regret to announce that Water Chariots will not be taking any further bookings to travel from Midnight Tuesday 4th September 2012. (Water Chariots website)
4 Sep 2012: All the boats are in the basin and the gates to the pontoons are locked. No notices regarding the closure but there is a Public Notice from Tower Hamlets regarding a change of use for the 28 berths from leisure to private residential. (Pistonheads forum)
5 Sep 2012: Julia Morris, from Walthamstow, bought tickets for her and her three-year-old son to travel to yesterday's athletics session in the Olympic Stadium by canal boat. But last week Water Chariots called to her warn the route was being changed for "security reasons" and did she want a refund or to re-book another trip? She re-booked... "It seems they are having problems," she said. "But that didn't stop them taking bookings. They aren't answering their phones and haven't replied to me on twitter so we caught the train." (Daily Mirror investigation)
11 Sep 2012: A Canal and River Trust spokeswoman said she did not know definitively whether Water Chariots had gone bust. She said: "We've had discussions with them, but we're not privy to their business decisions. We're aware they've stopped operating the service." (The Guardian)
13 Sep 2012: The Limehouse Cut may only be three feet deep along much of its length but the dream of providing luxurious travel to Stratford from Limehouse Basin has sunk without a trace. A former employee said: "I was told there would be 1,000 people walking through the doors every day; this was quite the opposite. It was dead and had no atmosphere whatsoever." (The Wharf)
16 Sep 2012: A firm which offered canal boat transfers to the Olympic Park is to go into administration after £2.5m losses, the company has said. (BBC News) (and BBC London video report)

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