Time to catch the boat? High speed catamarans to boost river transport in London
Two new high-speed catamarans have arrived in London to boost river transport in the capital.
The boats represent an investment of £6.5 million and are the first to be added to the MBNA Thames Clippers river bus service in seven years.
They will add extra capacity to the RB6 route between Blackfriars and Putney, which has seen a 40% increase in passenger journeys in the last 12 months.
The 150-passenger vessels - named Galaxy Clipper and Neptune Clipper - will also be used on other routes during periods of high demand.
They were built in Tasmania, Australia, and were lifted off a cargo ship into the Thames after completing their 15,000-mile journey.
London's river transport network has also been enhanced by the installation of pay-as-you-go Oyster readers on all piers served by the Clippers, while the new Plantation Wharf Pier will open next month on the South Bank of the Thames between Battersea and Wandsworth bridges.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "These fabulous, top-of-the-range vessels will make it even easier for Londoners and visitors to our city to get from A to B by boat.
"Along with the introduction of Oyster readers and a major investment at Plantation Wharf, the delivery of these stunning new Clippers show that it's full steam ahead for travel on the Thames."
The 35-metre long boats were built to a lightweight and sleek design, which the owners claim make them the most efficient and technically advanced river buses on the Thames.
Mr Johnson launched a River Action Plan in 2013 to increase passenger trips on the river to 12 million by 2020.
In 2014 the number of journeys was 9.8 million, up from eight million the previous year.
Sean Collins, chief executive and co-founder of MBNA Thames Clippers, said: "I'm the third generation of my family to work on the River Thames and it is with immense pride that I now see the river fulfilling its potential for the first time for passengers - like it did in its heyday for freight - as the essential thoroughfare in London.
"The new boats will treble the river transport capacity between Putney in west London and central London at peak times."
Galaxy Clipper and Neptune Clipper will enter service next month, bringing the number of boats operated by the company to 15.