River Thames

River Thames

The River Thames is the busiest inland waterway in the United Kingdom, carrying nearly 60% of all goods lifted on the UK's inland waterway network. Department for Transport statistics show over two million tonnes of freight were transported on the Thames. This helps keep over 100,000 lorry movements a year off London's congested roads. It has an important role to play in the search for "green" solutions for transport and logistics. Where else in the UK can you find a free, uncongested "motorway" right to the centre of such a huge population?

About 2 million tonnes of cargo is carried up and down the river every year and this volume could treble in the next few years. As well as bulk cargo, projects for shippers to make use of the River are being developed.

The body who control the use of the Thames are the Port of London Authority (PLA) – a self-funding public trust.

Along the Thames, the PLA is committed to a policy of "safeguarded wharves" – as more and more shippers look for environmentally friendly supply chain solutions, these are the very facilities they will need. There are currently 70 dedicated, specialised terminal and wharf operations all along the Thames (see link to map below).

Operators looking at London can receive support from the PLA to:

  • Support shippers in their “green” aspirations, with the advantage of a direct route – the Thames – into the heart of the busy London market.
  • Help shippers to find out which facilities and shipping lines match their needs and aspirations
  • Assist clients in experimenting with planned jetty extensions or the handling of larger ships in absolute safety on our advanced ship manoeuvring simulator
  • Offer the support of a dedicated hydrographic surveying team


The PLA’s operations cover 95 miles of the River Thames from Teddington Lock (the upstream limit of the tidal river) to where the river joins the North Sea. They work to and promote the use of the river for trade and travel as well as keeping commercial and leisure users safe and protecting and enhancing the environment.

For a comprehensive map of freight facilities available along the Thames, see this map from the PLA site