All-electric boat, Electra, is set to welcome passengers on board this summer. Quadrant Transport sits down with Lead Cabin Host, James Clifton, to learn more about the boat and how she will serve the community in the coming years.
Commissioned by Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust last year, Electra will host public trips and private charter cruises along the Grand Union Canal once operational.
Currently undertaking sea trials, “Electra is the second trip boat that the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust have commissioned,” James told Quadrant Transport.
“Electra, and her sister boat, the John Bunyan, are there to raise the profile of the brand-new waterway and also raise some income. We are a registered charity, so it helps pay for those things that are hard to fund, such as technical studies,” said James.
The boat will be moored at the centre of Milton Keynes, offering “walk and glide” trips as well as “bubbles and bites” onboard.
“There is almost a dozen of us working on delivering the project,” explained James. “We’re looking to grow up to a target of 400 trips per year,” he added.
As one of the first all-electric boats, Electra has 48 batteries onboard and 24 flexible solar panels on the roof.
Navigating the pandemic
Able to take up to 12 passengers, subject to COVID restrictions, the boat is due to accept passengers in early July.
We are hampered to some extent by COVID regulations
One challenge with this project is the restrictions put in place by the pandemic. James told Quadrant Transport, “We are hampered to some extent by COVID regulations, not least because there’s a limit to the number of volunteers we can have onboard at any one time.”
Community at its heart
This new boat is “by the community, for the community, and with the community, said James.
“So, by the community, led and operated entirely by volunteers. For the community, it’s open for everyone to have a great time on cruises which will help to promote the Bedford to Milton Keynes waterway. And with the community, working with councils, businesses, charities and community groups to reach out and serve everyone in Milton Keynes,” he added.
Being electric not only has its benefits to the environment but to customer experience too.
Very good for wellness, you can really chill out and relax
“She’s just about silent, all you can really hear is the water running along the sides of the boat as she goes forward. Very good for wellness, you can really chill out and relax,” James said.
He added: “Being very quiet, she doesn’t disturb the wildlife either.”