Cable Car comes to East London

8th July 2012

Do not reach for the skies as this cable car is in East London and it is high summer.  I am looking out of our office window at the cabins moving along and it is really wonderful to see something so completely new and exciting in London.

We were pretty amazed at it from the start.  Many transport experts say it is bonkers and to my mind linking close to the Dome (02 Arena) with close to Excel seems pretty strange but seeing it in operation its magic is beguiling.  I am sure it will become more of a tourist attraction like the London Wheel than a real alternative for getting people across the river.   It will probably help boost activity at both places, which need that during their off peak times.

This has gone up fast – we have been taking photos of it since December last year when the first supporting column was installed.  After that the work carried on with the skyline changing each day ending up in 3 columns.  Stringing the wire up was complicated and had to be put off several times as it affected the river operations.  It was finally done on the 4th attempt I think.   The columns are really magnificent – I was expecting something quite utilitarian and not well designed.  Quite the opposite, they show what can be achieved in a really simple stripped down manner but very elegant.  The gondolas are quite small – it looks like they hold about 4 people each but the PR says up to 10.  The capacity is 2,500 people per hour running across the river – pretty good really. Plus they can take bikes which is a fantastic addition.

Getting the Emirates to sponsor this must have been a huge relief for the Mayor and TFL - £36 million over 10 years against a cost of £60 million to construct is quite a contribution.   The cost was first estimated at £25 million which was all going to be paid for privately.  Our taxes are paying for the build and my guess is that as the Mayor was driving this it had to happen – I can imagine all the twisting of objectives and internal wrangling that must have taken place to get this publicly funded.  Would not be possible for us mere mortals with a pet project. 

Should be a real boost for East London cross river transport, but not a replacement for the sorely needed fixed Thames crossings East of Tower Bridge.

Waive at us in Trinity Buoy Wharf when you get to go on it – I will be looking out for you from my corner window on the 3rd floor of our recycled container building on the Thames front (look for the grey and yellow modernist building).   Even better, come and find us once you have completed your trip – we are 12 minutes walk from East India station on the DLR.  We have a great pair of cafes  here – the Driftwood Café and Fat Boys Diner (yes an original American Diner in East London) where you can have a good cuppa and something to eat while looking at the movement of the cable car.