Limehouse basin’s Olympic ‘waterbus’ operator selected

AN operator for a waterbus to transport people to the Olympic site during the 2012 Games has been chosen.

British Waterways, the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the Olympic Delivery Authority has named Water Chariots as the successful bidder for the contract which will see both a public waterbus ‘hop-on hop-off’ route, and a private charter service to the Olympic Park.

The route will operate between the Limehouse Basin, Three Mills and Old Ford Lock, just outside the Olympic Park on the River Lee Navigation. Services are due to start next spring.

British Waterways’ principal projects manager Mark Blackwell said: “This is brilliant news for the waterways and for the local area.

“The new service will give local people and visitors - of which there will be thousands in 2012 - a chance to see east London from a completely new perspective.

“The Lower Lea Valley’s historic network of waterways is one of its best kept secrets and an important tourism asset for the area.

“It is already popular with walkers and cyclists and this new service will give more people the chance to get on the water as well.”

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The waterways of east London have been the focus for record investment in the lead up to 2012 with channels dredged, a new lock and water control structure built at Three Mills and the restoration of City Mill Lock.

Further improvements in the pipeline include a new floating towpath and bridge being built to help pedestrians and cyclists avoid the A11 crossing and a new riverside path called the ‘Fatwalk’ connecting the Lower Lea Valley to the Thames.

Peter Coleman, Water Chariots, said: “We’ve already had great interest in the route from Limehouse to the Olympic Park area during 2012, and I’m sure that both Londoners and visitors to the city will be interested in taking this more unusual route to the Games.

“We’re also planning for the legacy phase, when we hope to convert some of the barges into hire boats, giving people the opportunity to explore London’s canals and rivers, as well as further a-field to Oxford and Hertfordshire.”

The waterbus service is part of a wider scheme to bring more water-based activity to Limehouse. Residents and berth holders in the Basin are being consulted about the plans and ideas that aim to bring activity, new business and access to the waterside location.

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