Thames Clippers

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Thames Clippers
London River Services
Thames Clippers logo
Locale London, UK
Waterway River Thames
Transit type River bus and tourist/leisure services
Owner Anschutz Entertainment Group
Operator Thames Clippers
Began operation 1999
System length 0.4 km (0.25 mi)
No. of lines 4
No. of vessels 13
No. of terminals 19

Thames Clippers (styled as MBNA Thames Clippers) is a river bus service on the River Thames in London. The company operates both commuter services between eastern and Central London and tourist services under licence from London River Services. At present they transport around 8,500 passengers daily.


Sean Collins co-founded Thames Clippers in 1999 with partner Alan Woods. During his career Sean recognised the opportunity to build a consistent high-speed commuter and passenger river service. Thames Clippers was then taken over in September 2006 by the American Anschutz Entertainment Group,[1] who promised substantial investment into the company to upgrade the services and to provide a more frequent "hop-on-hop-off" between Central London and The O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome), also owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group. In 2007 the company purchased six new catamarans to be used on the Thames Clippers commuter service in order to carry a large number of passengers in a comfortable environment.


Thames Clippers operate under licence from Transport for London. The river boat service is now better integrated into the tube and bus ticketing network. From November 2009, the Thames Clippers services started to accept Oyster pay as you go on all of its services, which also provides a 10% discount on single and return fares.[2]

A River Roamer ticket, valid for one day, is available from Thames Clipper which allows the holder to hop on and hop off along the banks of the Thames between St George Wharf Pier and Woolwich Arsenal Pier (including the Canary Wharf - Rotherhithe Ferry). The cost is £16.50 for an adult and £36.00 for a family. It's £6.80 for an adult single trip (or £6.12 if payment is made with an oyster card).[3] There is a one third discount for holders of valid travelcards (excluding Family River Roamer tickets and fares for The O2 Express).

Special river service season tickets, valid for either 1 week, 1 month, 6 months or 1 year, are also available. Discounts for travelcard holders are also available on season tickets.

Commuter services[edit]

Main commuter service (RB1)[edit]

This runs between Embankment Pier (on the north side of the river by Embankment tube station and Charing Cross tube and railway stations) and the Woolwich Arsenal Pier (on the south side of the river in Woolwich). The service runs every 20 minutes during the day, and every 30 minutes in the very early morning and evenings.

Hurricane Clipper approaching Greenland Pier with Canary Wharf in the background
Sun Clipper heading upstream just east of Tower Bridge
Hurricane Clipper
A diagram of one of Thames Clippers' newest vessels, Meteor Clipper, showing the latest Thames Clipper branding which most of the fleet will soon carry

Stops include from west to east:

Hilton / Canary Wharf ferry (RB4)[edit]

Thames Clippers operates the direct cross river Canary Wharf - Rotherhithe Ferry, between Canary Wharf Pier and the Nelson Dock Pier at the Hilton Hotel in Rotherhithe. The service uses smaller boats than the commuter service but runs at a higher frequency of every 20 minutes and every 10 minutes during peak times. The ferry can be used by guests of the hotel free of charge as well as by passengers not staying at the hotel at a cost.[4]

North Greenwich to Woolwich (RB5)[edit]

Putney to Blackfriars (and Canary Wharf) (RB6)[edit]

This runs peak times Monday to Friday only. Stops are:

Visitor/tourist services[edit]

Tate to Tate and Service West (RB2)[edit]

The Tate to Tate and Service West operates between St George Wharf Pier in Vauxhall and Bankside Pier, serving visitors travelling between the Tate Modern museum on the South Bank and the older Tate Britain in Millbank across the river.

Additional Service (RB3)[edit]

Additional services operate along the RB1 route to help maximise capacity during peak periods.

The O2 Express (RBX)[edit]

The O2 Express is an express service serving London Eye, London Bridge Pier and North Greenwich Pier for The O2. The service also provides private charters.


Cyclone Clipper (then being sponsored by KPMG) about to pass under the Millennium Bridge

Thames Clippers operates 15 high speed catamarans with a maximum speed of 28 Knots.[5][6]

Name Length Passengers Type Built
Galaxy Clipper 35m 150 Incat Hunt Class 2015
Neptune Clipper 35m 150 Incat Hunt Class 2015
Aurora Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2B 2008
Meteor Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2B 2008
Cyclone Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2B 2007
Monsoon Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2B 2007
Tornado Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2B 2007
Typhoon Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2B 2007
Hurricane Clipper 38m 220 NQEA River Runner 200 Mark 2 2001
Moon Clipper 32m 138 NQEA River Runner 150 Mark 3 2001
Sun Clipper 32m 138 NQEA River Runner 150 Mark 3 2001
Sky Clipper 25m 62 FBM Hydrocat 1992
Star Clipper 25m 62 FBM Hydrocat 1992
Storm Clipper 25m 62 FBM Hydrocat 1992
Twin Star 19m 125 Former Ford Dagenham ferry 1976


In February 2004, a woman was killed after she was hit, while waiting for a boat, by a mooring bollard which had come loose from the Star Clipper at St. Katherine's Pier.[7]

On 4 October 2011 at 7 pm, the Moon Clipper hit the Tower Millennium Pier when it was carrying about 50 people.[8]

On 5 December 2016 the Typhoon Clipper collided with the workboat Alison, resulting in the sinking of the workboat.[9]

Onboard services[edit]

Thames Clipper vessels have cafes and bars operated by Aramark and branded as Costa Coffee.

The future[edit]

A Policy Exchange report advocates significant expansion in river services on the Thames. The aim of the report is to lead to a "river tube line" being created which would lead to easing of current congestion on London's transport systems, and better quality of travel, at a significantly cheaper price than other options. Opponents note that the river capacity, especially at low tide could mean a reduction of tourist boats (especially at peak commuter times), and turn the Thames into urban highway which would be detrimental to London. To be feasible, the report calls for better management of river traffic, improved interchange with other public transport modes and expansion of key piers.[10]

The Mayor of London is responsible for the River Concordat group [2] group, which is made-up of over forty different organisations including Thames Clippers. The publication, By the River [3], sets out the strategic vision for improving river transport on the Thames.


External links[edit]