Various media sources are reporting that work on the cable car from the Royal Docks near Excel to North Greenwich is to commence this summer. Interestingly no private backer has come forward so TfL are funding the preliminary works. As no private backer is interested in construction TfL will probably end up paying for the whole construction costs, which differs from what was said when it was first announced. A TfL spokesman said –
“It remains the intention that TfL will seek to recoup as much of the cost as possible through a number of sources including advertising, sponsorship and fare revenue.”
I have nothing against it if the private sector builds it and would enjoy it as a one off trip, but given the current and future financial difficulties for TfL and the need for a proper crossing in SE London, the cable car seems such a waste. It seems to me a typical Boris idea. One that is a bit of a novelty, gets him lots of publicity but doesn’t actually do much, and is doggedly stuck to despite not making a great deal of sense.
Boris list of public transport achievements aren’t exactly long. Most projects that he has turned up to and posed for the cameras whilst cutting the ribbon were begun under Livingstone, such as the Woolwich Arsenal DLR extension, and the recently re-opened and extended East London Line (as London Overground). Even his most famous contribution, the cycle hire scheme, is a continuation of plans from before his election. So with the mayoral election a year away I see him needing to point to something to show he is doing something. Hence a gimmicky scheme that won’t really make a difference to SE London. I’ve previously read it could cost £2.50 a ride. The chances of the cable car taking cyclists are pretty much zilch as each gondola will only carry 10 people. And to think that the £50m that could potentially be spent on this could fund a big chunk of the costs of a proper bridge that would have much more of a transformative effect (the Thames Gateway and a pedestrian/cycle bridge at Rotherhithe, which was costed at £65m in 2008) . The Sustrans proposal would benefit pedestrians and cyclists massively, who would be able to cross the river for free like their fellow Londoners in the west already can. My post a few days ago about the Thames Gateway bridge gives some benefits of that scheme.
With the cruise liner terminal expected to begin shortly North Greenwich will have quite a lot going on in the coming years.