Consultation launches on subsidy for the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry

A water landscape shot

People are being asked for their views on Kent County Council’s (KCC) subsidy of the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry.

Since 2000, the service has operated with financial support from KCC and Thurrock Council. The service runs 6 days a week between 5:40am and 7pm, with more than 100,000 passenger journeys a year made on the service.

As part of negotiations with the operator around a recent contract extension, Thurrock Council, which is in special financial measures, has advised KCC it has concerns about its ability to fund the service in the longer term and currently, the subsidy is being funded exclusively by KCC.

Based on current costs, KCC’s budget allows for a subsidy of £55k per annum to support the ferry but without further external funding, and accounting for the likely cost of a new contract, KCC would likely have to allocate over £200k a year to sustain the service which would be an additional pressure to a fully allocated budget.

Due to the financial pressures KCC is facing, it is unclear whether KCC could commit to funding the service in its entirety moving forward and the funding that the council has historically made available would not be enough on its own to sustain the service.

Head and shoulders image of Neil Baker, KCC's Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

No decisions have yet been taken so I would encourage anyone with a view to take part in our public consultation.

Neil Baker KCC's Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: “The current contract for our subsidy is due to end in March 2024.

“Due to the updated financial position of the funding partnership between KCC and Thurrock Council, we are having to look again at our arrangement to subsidise this service.

“No decisions have yet been taken so I would encourage anyone with a view to take part in our public consultation.”

You can have your say by visiting from 8th January to 4th February.

If you have any questions or require any of the consultation material in hard copy, please email

For alternative formats and languages, please email or call 03000 42 15 53 (text relay service number: 18001 03000 42 15 53). This number goes to an answering machine, which is monitored during office hours.