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DHL Delivery Boat on River Thames

It’s clear and clean sailing for last-mile logistics in London

DHL’s daily riverboat service transports small packages into central London, replacing delivery trucks and easing congestion in the busy British capital.

Easing congestion, increasing efficiency

Traffic jams in Britain’s biggest city are world famous. The daily gridlock downtown led lawmakers to introduce a congestion charge nearly 20 years ago in hopes of reducing traffic, improving bus service, and increasing delivery service efficiency. Although the charge resulted in fewer cars on the streets, the rise of delivery vans and Ubers – a product of more recent changes in consumer behavior – nearly grinds the city to a halt every day.

DHL has relied on bicycle couriers to handle much of its last-mile express deliveries in central London for some time now. Cargo bikes like the DHL Paracycle and DHL Cubicycle are common sights, flying by frustrated drivers stuck in stop-and-go traffic. But the packages still needed to be trucked into the city for distribution to couriers. This not only meant more delivery vans on London’s buy streets, it made fast and reliable deliveries more difficult.

That’s where the daily riverboat service comes in. The River Thames, which is widely underused as a source of transportation, provides a perfect opportunity to innovate and evolve, not to mention increase the efficiency and speed of parcel delivery.

Traffic Jams






Cleaner, greener, faster

The riverboat service runs daily in the mornings, travelling at high speed along the Thames from Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier to Bankside Pier in central London. Electric vehicles move the shipments from a DHL hub to the pier – and final delivery takes place via DHL courier bicycles.

This unique blend of transportation modes is not only cleaner, it’s faster and more efficient than the more traditional alternatives. While we have proven the effectiveness of combining land and waterways in places like Amsterdam and Venice, this service represents the first time we are using high-speed boats to both improve access to urban areas and reduce transit time.

The riverboat is a fast, efficient and reliable way of utilizing a currently untapped access route into London and it is one of many initiatives in which we are investing on our way to net-zero emissions in 2050.


Boosting our group-wide environmental protection program

The riverboat service is the latest addition to GoGreen, DHL’s group-wide environmental protection program. GoGreen is the cornerstone of DHL’s efforts to help protect the planet, focusing on the reduction and prevention of greenhouse gases and local air pollutants. By the year 2050 we want to reduce all logistics-related emissions to zero. Innovative logistics solutions both large and small are going to help us achieve this highly ambitious goal.

In 2020 alone, we are investing about €1 billion in our infrastructure to grow our global network and improve quality. Beyond major global projects like modernizing our aircraft fleet and expanding our logistics hubs, we are taking a close look at the cities and regions in which we operate. We want to uncover where we can integrate alternative modes of transport to reduce carbon emissions and road traffic in order to improve air quality and quality of life.

These efforts are helping us find more ways to ‘GoGreen’ and take important steps toward more sustainable logistics and a greener future.


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What is GoGreen?

At DHL, we feel we have a special responsibility to our employees, society, and the environment. That’s because of the size and global reach of our company – and the important role we play in facilitating global trade. This strong sense of responsibility has a major influence on the way we conduct business and is the foundation of our corporate culture.

Our Group-wide environmental protection program GoGreen is an expression of this strong sense of responsibility. The program’s main objective is to reduce and/or avoid emissions of greenhouse gases and local air pollutants. As part of GoGreen, we’ve also made it our mission to reduce all logistics-related emissions to zero by 2050.

We believe in shared value – and it plays an important role in all of our environmental protection activities. To us, shared value is about strengthening our market position by engaging in social and environmental issues and integrating these into our core business.

Our diverse range of green solutions not only benefit our environment and our communities, but also create value for us and our customers. Saving fuel or electricity, for example, also means lower long-term operating costs, which is why investments in green technologies pay off.

Re-inventing logistics to become emissions neutral in the next three decades is clearly a huge challenge. But we are optimistic that we can achieve this goal – with the help of new technologies, the dedication and expertise of our employees, and through collaboration with our customers and partners.

That’s why we’re taking a strategic approach. While we leverage new technologies to optimize our supply chains, we are also working closely with customers and partners to create greener and more efficient logistics processes at the national, regional, and global levels. As we look for ways to reduce energy consumption and tap into greener energy sources – to ‘Burn Less’ and ‘Burn Clean’ – we are also training our people to adopt greener, more sustainable practices both at work and home. And despite launching many of our own innovative green solutions, we are also working with select technology partners to develop the green logistics solutions of the future.

From introducing innovative low carbon solutions to declaring our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, we are leading the way to sustainable logistics. GoGreen has been both our guiding light and the expression of our strong sense of responsibility and desire to protect our people and our planet. 

Published: October 2020

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