Thames cable car could be on course for Olympics
It's only seven weeks since construction began on the Thames cable car but don't bet against it being operational before the London Olympics.
The £50million link from the Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula is one Mayor of London Boris Johnson has personally pushed through, despite the absence of promised private investment.
The project costs are being paid by Transport for London, which it said will be recouped through sponsorship and ticket sales.
Last week The Wharf went for a look at the site of the cable car's north station in Royal Victoria Dock (below).
The rate of progress is astonishing. Piles have been driven 44m into the dock bed, and work on this stage of the project should be completed at the end of this month.
The next stage will be the laying of a concrete base for the 550sq m station to stand on, before the building of the station itself (pictured below) begins.
It's a complicated, complex project but one TfL and their contractors Mace and Doppelmayr are determined to bring in on budget and on time - even if they won't confirm when it will open.
Matthew Randall, project manager for Mace, explained some of the intricacies.
He said: "Work is going well. We're on course to finish piling at the end of the month and then we start laying the concrete. We're also preparing to build the towers to carry the cable. The tallest will be 85m high, to ensure that the cable car is never less than 54m above the river.
"The last part of the project will be to lay the cable across, and we use a helicopter to do that, so we'll just hope it's not a windy day when we do it."
Anyone concerned about noise and safety should not be worried according to TfL project manager Daniel Alston.
He said: "We'll have deflectors and cladding to reduce any noise. The design is such it keeps the noise inside the building, while passengers on the gondolas will have a quiet journey.
"Wind is something we have been looking at in particular. Its been designed with reference to 2007, which was a particularly windy year for this part of London. We'll have anemometers on the tower tops to measure the wind and cameras monitoring the cable.
"If it gets too windy the gondolas slow down. Passenger safety is the most important thing to us.
"What we're aiming for is 97 per cent performance criteria to keep the cable car in operation in all weather conditions."
While the cable car would be useful for ferrying spectators between the Olympic venues at The O2 and Excel, TfL restated there is no pressure to have it ready for the start of the Games next July.
A spokeswoman said: "The cable car project is progressing well and is scheduled for completion during summer 2012.
"However, this project is not part of the Olympics Transport plan and is therefore not required to be completed in time for the Games and will be managed accordingly. This exciting new river crossing will stimulate regeneration in this area including the new Enterprise Zone in the Royal Victoria Docks."
It's certainly an impressive engineering project, and one east London will watch grow over the coming months. But will it prove to be the answer to the area's pressing need improved river crossings?
The answer to that is still up in the air.
Facts and figures:
The cable car will span 1.1km across the Thames from North Greenwich to the Royal Victoria Dock
The north station will be built on piles in the dock, the south station is to be located close to the London Soccerdome and The O2. Both stations will be around 550sq m in size.
The cable car will have 34 gondolas, each capable of carrying up to 10 passengers. It will be able to carry up to 2,500 passengers in each direction every hour.
Between 20 and 25 people will work on the link when it's in operation.