Sunday, 4 July 2010

Boris Johnson backs cable car across the Thames

Boris Johnson has come out in support of a cable car across the Thames at North Greenwich.

The possibility of a crossing between the O2 and Canary Wharf was discounted by TfL last year as impractical and a privacy risk.

However, the possibility of a privately funded crossing between the O2 and the Excel Centre was left open:

Boris told the Press Association today:

"A cable car spanning the majestic Thames would not only provide a unique and pioneering addition to London's skyline, but also offer a serene and joyful journey across the river.

Passengers would be able to drink in the truly spectacular views of the Olympic Park and iconic London landmarks whilst shaving valuable minutes from their travelling time. It would also provide a much needed enhancement of cross river options to the east of the city."

Boris has made it repeatedly clear that he backs the Silvertown road crossing at North Greenwich as outlined here.

However, with the coalition government set to slash TfL funding, a privately funded cable car is now seen as a good and cheap 'interim' measure.

Indeed a similar 'interim' crossing was installed in New York in advance of a Subway route but has been kept ever since.

Singapore also has a similar crossing although it has not had quite as smooth a history.

The appeal of a cable car was first pointed out to Boris by Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson two years ago, although I think Boris was more keen on the catapult!

Darren Johnson (Deputy Chair): If you are not pursuing [the Thames Gateway Bridge] are you going to be looking at the independent report which is one of the last things that the Greens managed to squeeze out of the previous Mayor in the final days of his administration? It puts some wonderful ideas forward as alternatives to the current proposals for a six lane road bridge. Are you going to look at that?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will certainly look at your alternatives. What are they? Do you envisage a kind of catapult!

Darren Johnson (Deputy Chair): They are not from me; they are from independent transport experts. There is a range of options: a public transport only bridge; not having cars on but allowing some commercial vehicles and public transport; a cable car, which is an exciting idea. There are lots of ideas there.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do think that everybody in London has got to accept that we do need another crossing east of Tower Bridge. Yes?

Darren Johnson (Deputy Chair): Look at a cable car!

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): A cable car? Well, we will look at a cable car.

And so he has. But will it actually happen?


darryl said...

Interesting how this keeps coming back - it was first mooted about 12 years ago in connection with the original Millennium Dome, running between there and East India DLR station.

AdamB said...

The reason TfL give for not backing the Canary Wharf crossing is that a ferry could do much the same at a lower cost. I think that's a fair argument but a cable car would also be a real attraction to tourists.

Whether they'd have a reason to make that particular crossing is another question but it's worth exploring. My only worry is that this is just being raised as another publicity gimmick but will never actually happen. See Boris Island, the Living Bridge etc etc.

darryl said...

True, I think it could be a big draw - although the view of Silvertown as you cruise towards the Excel centre won't compare that with the cable cars in Madrid and Barcelona, though! If Crossrail does go ahead, a link between North Greenwich and Custom House could be handy, I guess.

It does feel a bit pie in the sky if TfL aren't paying - would O2/Thames Clippers owners AEG cough up?

AdamB said...

TfL say that AEG wanted the Canary wharf cable car but I don't know about the Excel one.

Newham Council have also expressed an interest, but as ever that interest will probably wane once hands have to be put into pockets.

I suspect some sort of deal would need to be done between AEG and Excel. Are the benefits for them big enough to stump up the cash?

Remember Boris said the cycle hire scheme would be privately funded and brought in at no cost to Londoners. It's going to cost us £70 million or so now.

Dawn said...

I can't see the point of the Canary Wharf-North Greenwich car: it's 3 minutes on the Jubilee Line. One from Custom House is a great idea though, and businesses in the O2 got a kicking from the Jubilee Line closures. Shame they've discounted another ferry though. Woolwich Ferry's always been rammed when I've used it & it would have been handy to have another closer to the centre.

AdamB said...

Dawn - They're still considering another ferry where the Thames Gateway Bridge would have been (Gallions Reach). Until now that and the Silvertown crossing seemed the most likely to actually happen.

A smaller version of the TGB is also under consideration I believe, but that's longer term.