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London River Services

Not many visitors are aware that there are passenger boats sailing along London’s River Thames. The London River Services or LRS (subsidiary of Transport for London) manages the commuter, ferry and leisure services on the River Thames in London. The LRS does not actually operate the boats but license the services to private operators. Travelling on a riverboat is slower and more expensive than travelling on the trains or buses. However, it is a relaxing and enjoyable way to see many scenic parts of London along the river. Major sites seen on the boat trip include St Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Palace of Westminster and the London Eye.

Paying the Fare

Boat operators have their own fares and ticketing arrangement that is separate from the public transport system managed by Transport for London. Boat operators also manage their own ticket kiosks at the piers and many sell tickets when boarding. Tickets purchased from a particular boat company are not valid on boats operated by other companies. Some operators offer their own season tickets and discounted fares. You can only use your Oyster Card including the Visitor Oyster Card for the Thames Clippers services.

London River Services boat at the pier by Edward

Services & Routes

The London River Services comprises of 5 river routes along the River Thames that include over 20 piers between Putney Pier and Woolwich Arsenal Pier. There are three main services on the London River Services. 

  • The commuter services operate on a fix schedule with many operating throughout the week though some operate only on weekdays. The main routes are between Embankment Pier and Woolwich Arsenal Pier and between Putney Pier and Blackfriars Millennium Pier. Many boat operators offer discounted fares to Travelcard holders.
  • The ferry services include the Canary Wharf – Rotherhithe Ferry, a passenger ferry service between Canary Wharf Pier and Nelson Dock Pier in Rotherhithe. Another is the Woolwich Ferry, a free ferry service across the River Thames for foot passengers and vehicles connecting Woolwich Pier (south bank of the River Thames) and Woolwich North Pier (north bank of the River Thames).
  • The leisure services targets the tourist market with destinations to major tourist attractions along the river. Some boat operators operate scheduled services while others operate a few trips a day, certain days of the week and some on certain days of the month. There are also operators that offer chartered boats for hire.
Ticket kiosks at Greenwich Pier by Cnbrb

Popular Stops on the River Thames

Many of the piers where the riverboats stop are located near some of London’s major attractions. The following are piers where the attractions are located:

Cruise boat passing Tower Bridge by Adrian Pingstone

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