Plans for new Wear ferry in Sunderland considered - but transport chiefs 'doubtful' it will happen any time soon

The prospect of a Sunderland ferry service across the Wear has been considered by the region’s transport chiefs.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 1:18 pm
River Wear looking towards Wearmouth Bridge. Picture by Fiona Thompson

It had been hoped a new crossing could provide more options for walkers and cyclists heading between the city centre and the University of Sunderland’s St Peter’s Campus.

But bosses at Nexus, which runs the Shields Ferry as well as the Tyne and Wear Metro, said issues relating to infrastructure and construction, as well as a lack of demand, meant the proposal was unlikely to become a reality anytime soon.

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“[A previous feasibility study] concluded that a Wear ferry was technically possible but difficult to deliver,” said a report for the transport operator.

“However, it is probable that the river would need dredging, as it is mostly too shallow to allow for a ferry. The tidal range is also problematic as it would make the construction of an accessible landing very challenging.

“It is doubtful that the demand would be sufficient to justify further consideration of this option at the present time.”

The update on the prospect of a Wear ferry service was included in a report on Nexus’s Ferry Strategy, due to be debated by members of the North East Joint Transport Ccommittee’s Tyne and Wear Sub Committee on Thursday (November 21).

There are currently four bridges spanning the Wear, the Wearmouth Bridge, the Queen Alexandra Bridge, the Northern Spire Bridge and a rail bridge.

Previous proposals have suggested a ferry service closer to the river’s mouth, between Panns Bank on the south side and St Peter’s on the northern edge.