Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Thursday 20th September, 2012
A firm who offered an imaginative travel alternative during the hectic Olympic Games period has gone into administration.
Water Chariots offered canal boat transfers to the Olympic Park from Tottenham Hale and Limehouse Marina but their pricing structure of £95 for adults and £50 per child led to a ‘low take-up’ and the company has reported £2.5m losses.
Eventually prices were cut to £20 per person but the damage was done and the service couldn’t continue beyond the first few days of the Paralympics.
According to the company, investors have "not received a single penny of return or income" from their initial outlay.
Water Chariots marketed their service as a luxury ride with champagne provided and clearly targeted the more affluent sector. They stated that being able to bypass all the queues was a huge plus point.
But passengers found out they had to disembark the boat and walk a mile away to the Olympic Park site after new barriers were put up for safety reasons, meaning an original drop-off point was no longer available.
The firm ran a 70-minute service from Tottenham Hale, north London, and a 40-minute service from Limehouse, east London, for 17 days during the Olympics.
In a statement, the firm said: "The directors of Old Ford Lock River Services Limited (trading as Water Chariots) have applied to place OFLRS into administration following the failure of its Olympic and Paralympic canal boat service.
"The project failed due to materially lower than anticipated revenues and take up for the service, set against a high fixed-cost base.
"The company had been criticised for high prices, but the level of investment and cost base necessitated a high ticket price.
"The company subsequently tested the market at lower prices, but the take-up continued to be poor.
"The company was able to trade through the Olympic Games and into the first week of the Paralympics, but eventually determined itself unable to carry on further without the additional support of its investors who had already invested considerably more than they were committed to.”
Tim Duggan, who was a captain, said the firm owes him more than £800 and around 100 staff are also still to be paid.
He said: "Just absolutely empty promises. At the end of the day we are out of pocket.”