LondonUnlocked

Cable Car construction to begin this summer

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201104200732.jpgThe £50m cable car scheme, linking the Royal Victoria Docks and Greenwich Peninsular, is due to begin work in summer for completion ahead of the 2012 Olympics.   

TfL's own press release on the subject speaks of the particularly high hopes they have for the cable cars:

"The cable car will span the Thames, providing a low-emission, quick, direct and fully accessible link connecting the Greenwich Peninsula and the O2 with the Royal Victoria Docks and the ExCeL.

"It will provide a spectacular architectural addition to London and a much-needed river crossing in this area, cutting travel times to five minutes.

"It will also boost the once-in-a-lifetime economic regeneration of east London, forming an essential new addition to a newly created Enterprise Zone."

Crucially for the ongoing use of the scheme post-Olympics, TfL have confirmed that it will form part of the Oyster network.

The cable car is being designed and built by a consortium including specialists Dopplemayr (one of their schemes is pictured above), Mace, Wilkinson Eyre, Watson Steel, URS Scott Wilson, Buro Happold and Aedas.

TfL are funding the project upfront in order to help with its quick delivery - a shift in position and ongoing risk for TfL as they may not recoup unless the scheme is successful.

Not everyone is enamoured of the scheme however. Critics and commentators have mixed views.

Caroline Pidgeon has been watching the books: "The mayor must now come clean and state why as recently as July 2010 he was claiming the cable car would cost £25m, but already its projected cost has doubled."

And Andrew Gilligan, normally a cheerleader for the Mayor, has delivered a crushing verdict on cable car scheme, calling it a 'strategic mistake' and a 'gimmick' here.

However, it's not all bad. As Martin Hoscik at MayorWatch suggests, a successful scheme "could be the first step in finding new, exciting and innovative ways to fund London’s future." Which frankly wouldn't be bad at all.

I think we should applaud the Mayor for taking the risk on a new form of transport in the capital. Admittedly it would have been better to do this at a time when TfL wasn't quite so cash-strapped and the costs of going over budget or time so detrimental to TfL.

This may, however, be the first step towards Lord Rogers' vision of cable cars docking at Canary Wharf. That's not a bad legacy for any Mayor to have.