Greenwich cable car: A brief report, and a future worry

So, at about 7pm, I thought I’d have a look at the cable car since I was passing by. Having seen lots of publicity about “boarding passes“, I saw a couple of ticket machines with Oyster readers on, topped mine up, and tried to find where I could get one. I couldn’t, except at the tourist rate of over four quid.

“Can I buy a ticket with Oyster on these machines?”, I asked a staffer. “No,” she said.

I took a look at the queue for the kiosk, remembered I had an appointment in the pub in a couple of hours, thought better of it, and went to get my bike to ride home.

A couple of hours later, I met my chum in the pub. She’d taken a ride just after I left. “Oh, you can just touch in and it’s fine – heaven knows what it’s taken off my Oyster though…”

As a vertigo sufferer (though one that’s been fine with cable cars in Lisbon – which is what I think London’s is based on – and Barcelona) I might have had a lucky escape, mind. The wind whipped up when I was getting my bike, and the gondolas stopped, swaying slightly in the air. Turns out this is what they do when it gets windy. It gets windy a lot on the Greenwich Peninsula – that could be interesting…

Still, despite it being a multi-million pound drain on a public transport budget, it seemed to have a steady stream of customers, if not the crowds predicted by TfL. It’ll be interesting to see how many people are using it during Friday’s morning rush hour. Probably not a lot, but I’ll keep an open mind.

(Here’s Diamond Geezer‘s Arabfly Dangleway photos, if you really want to see what it’s like.)

But there’s an ominous warning for the future in this week’s Greenwich Council propaganda rag Greenwich Time, where council – sorry, royal borough leader Chris Roberts came out in favour of building a third Blackwall Tunnel underneath the cable car site, having fudged the question at a council meeting during the mayoral election after Labour candidate Ken Livingstone criticised the project.

So, with the Greenwich Labour party in support of clogging up the area with more traffic – if there’s any opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel – 88% of 853 readers were against it in a poll five months ago – then perhaps it needs to get organised sooner rather than later.


  1. I have to agree with Chris Roberts on the Crossrail issue. Although outline agreement was reached in 2007 for Berkeley Homes to fund the Woolwich station box, funds only materialised at the last minute in 2011 when Berkeley secured extra floors for the latest phase of the Woolwich Arsenal scheme and was allowed a relaxation of the \”affordable homes\” requirement.

    From the FT (paywalled – \”Under the terms of the agreement, only 25 per cent of the units built by Berkeley would have to be classed as affordable housing, compared with the usual 35 per cent requirement. The housebuilder would also be entitled to build an extra 1,000 units on the site, including some above the station.\”

    Another deadline is fast approaching as the actual station itself is not currently funded apart from a vague promise that \”…this will be conditional on developers and local businesses making sufficient contributions to pay for the cost of fitting out the station.\”

    Could we please finish funding projects that have already been started before even contemplating a new road tunnel?

    On Silvertown, with traffic and pollution on the current Blackwall approaches at worryingly high levels, and roads like the A206 being downgraded in Woolwich and Charlton, where is all the extra traffic produced by such a scheme going to go? The A102(M) will need to be widened and the Sun in the Sands roundabout remodelled if this is going to be any use and where does the traffic go from there?

    The A2 is perpetually clogged and the A207 is only going to get worse if the plan to move the Woolwich Ferry (or Raynsford\’s mention yesterday of a bridge) goes ahead. This also raises the question of how the heavy goods vehicles are actually going to get to Western Way. Should we be worrying about a re-run of the Oxleas Woods fiasco of the 1990s? Anyone fancy trying to bulldoze Plumstead again? Wickham Lane has only just recovered from the last round of compulsory purchases.

  2. “Still, despite it being a multi-million pound drain on a public transport budget…”

    I’m rather more concerned at the fact that TfL has so far paid well over £40m to Canary Wharf Group in compensation for delays under an agreement made in return for CWG footing about £80m towards the upgrade work. At this rate CWG will soon be net recipients from the arrangement.

    The thinking on the cable car needs to be a little more joined up… it doesn’t make a great deal of sense as a piece of public transport infrastructure post Olympics for a few years, but it will be another way to join the peninsula to a Crossrail station (bear in mind Canary Wharf tube to Canary Wharf crossrail is going to be a bit of a trek), and development on the peninsula is sure to kick off in a fairly major way with the investment from the Hong Kong group.

  3. June 2013 appears to be the deadline for funding Woolwich Crossrail.

    As Matt Clinch pointed out (, Berkeley Homes have seen a massive jump in profits this year. Between the public Cable Car money and Berkeley Homes digging deep we could have had this secured by now. This cannot be funded by central government due to the terms of the Crossrail Bill.

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