Updated: 22 November 2023

Background Ferry Service

Thames Clippers (TC) have been operating a cross river ferry service from the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel to Canary Wharf for over 20 years.  The current infrastructure is reaching end of life and creates an opportunity to develop and operate an enhanced all electric, zero emission, roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ferry replacement.   This will allow automated docking on both sides in Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to reduce journey times, better and compliant disabled accessibility on the brow (south) accommodating the tidal changes, and an increased capacity on the craft for foot and cycle passengers.  The new electric ferry will continue to serve the hotel and reflect the demand from the growing employment centre on the north bank of the river at Canary Wharf (Tower Hamlets), and the growing residential neighbourhoods in Rotherhithe and Canada Water on the south bank (Southwark).

This cross-river service will continue to be delivered by Thames Clippers and is a partially sponsored project by the Department for Transport’s Green Maritime Fund via Innovate UK.  Project partners with Thames Clippers include high-speed aluminium ship builder, Wight Shipyard Company; marine civil engineering consultants, Beckett Rankine; and electric infrastructure specialists, Aqua Superpower.

The Existing Pier Provision (South)

Technical Constraints and Limitations

  • The current pier has very steep access on certain high tides for passengers resulting in the pier being non Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant.
  • The pier and brow run directly into the DoubleTree by Hilton reception conflicting with hotel guests and restricting the cycle usage to the ferry. 
  • The pier is over 30 years old and is limited in terms of number of craft it can host.
  • The pier does not allow for double gate boarding or disembarkation which restricts the capacity and boarding efficiency for pedestrians and bicycle users.
  • It is currently an under used bicycle crossing due to a lack of storage on the existing ferry.

Image: Concept design of new pier and all electric ferry at Rotherhithe (Nelson Dock)

CRF Concept



The Proposal (South)

The proposal for the south side is for the demolition of the existing pier and construction of a new pier and infrastructure to support a new fully electric ferry service; the first of its kind on the River Thames.

The improvements on the south bank include: 

  • New ferry pontoon (to accommodate two electric ferries, a covered passenger waiting area, a visitor berth and electrical charging for the ferries).
  • New covered canting brow for a direct connection to the new pontoon. 
  • New lightweight over-dock walkway (Nelson Dock) connection to the Thames path.
  • New security gate and canopy to a private hotel river entrance. Currently users of the pier must access the pier through the hotel and the proposed changes would provide a new route for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Signage for a pedestrian / cyclist route from Rotherhithe Street to the pier (not via the hotel).
  • Level access throughout.
  • New all electric craft operating on zero emissions, replacing a conventional diesel vessel.

The proposed scheme is anticipated to result in a reduction in noise levels compared to the existing ferry service, which is already at a low level.

The new electric ferries would slightly increase capacity from just over 100 passengers to 150 passengers, with 100 cycle spaces.  Note the closest cycle and pedestrian crossing of the River Thames is to the west at Tower bridge, a 15min cycle or 45min walk upriver.  The closest to the east is the Greenwich foot tunnel, a 20min cycle or 55min walk down river.  The route will now connect two well established cycle routes, Sustrans Route No. 1 on the north bank, and Route 425 from Rotherhithe to Camberwell (and National Cycle Route No.4), as well as connections to London’s Cycle Superhighways No 1 (north) and No 4 (south).

Charges to cross the river will be part of the Oyster and contactless 'pay as you go' system as per the current service.

The hours of operation and frequency of crossing would remain as existing as a minimum.

A planning application has been submitted to the London Borough of Southwark accordingly.  A planning application has also been submitted to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for modifications to the existing pier on the North. These can be found below.

The Proposal (North) 

The existing pier at Canary Wharf will be modified to accommodate the new fully electric ferry berth. This will be built on the inside face of the pier to allow for radial River Bus services to operate without interruption. Electric Charging infrastructure will also be installed at this new berth.

Image: Rendered model of new all electric ferry design

Cross River Large


Cross River Ticket Information

Experience the current Thames crossing between Canary Wharf Pier and DoubleTree Docklands Pier with our RB4 service.

  • Purchase a Cross River ticket for just £3.95, available via the Thames Clippers Tickets and Uber apps, or when you pay as you go with an Oyster or contactless card.
  • Explore further afield, with our carnet and season ticket options, offering flexibility and great value for money. This can work out as little as £1.61 per journey with our annual option.

Whether crossing daily or just on occasion, discover the convenience of our Cross River service today.

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