London

Hop-on hop-off waterbuses for Olympic Park visitors

A hop-on hop-off waterbus serving the Olympic Park in east London will be launched by next spring, British Waterways has said.

The service will operate on the River Lee between Limehouse Basin, passing through Three Mills, and Old Ford Lock outside the park's entrance.

The bid to operate 10 waterbuses on the route was won by Water Chariots group.

The route is being dredged and new structures created to utilise the Lower Lea Valley's waterways for the Games.

A new lock and water control structure is also being built at Three Mills and City Mill Lock is being restored for the Games.

There are plans to build a floating towpath and bridge for pedestrians and cyclists and a new riverside path to link the Lower Lea Valley to the Thames ahead of the London Olympics, British Waterways said.

The wide beam boats for the route are currently being built. The service will be similar to the one which has run in Camden, north London, for 50 years.

Image caption Parts of the River Lee used by waterbuses have been dredged and lock gates restored

Mark Blackwell, British Waterways' Principal Projects Manager, said: "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."

London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) are partners in this scheme.

Hugh Sumner, director of transport, ODA, said: "Visitors from all over the world will be coming to London to enjoy the Games, so it's fantastic that these waterway routes that link east London to the Olympic Park are being regenerated and revitalised ahead of 2012."

Peter Coleman, of Water Chariots, said: "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."

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