Plans for a new cable car linking the Greenwich Peninsula with the Royal Victoria Docks and the ExCeL centre took a major step forward today with the announcement that work on the scheme will start “this summer”.
The news came as Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson invited companies to bid for sponsorship and naming rights, a process TfL describes as “a key component” of the scheme’s funding.
A consortium headed by Mace has been appointed to build and operate the cable car which TfL hopes to have in service before the 2012 Olympics.
Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said: “With a contractor now appointed and works set to start this summer we will soon see this new addition become part of London’s iconic skyline.”
Boris Johnson described the scheme as an “innovative airborne travel link” which would “be a vital component in the ongoing renaissance of a vibrant easterly quarter of the Capital, providing a much needed river crossing.”
The Mayor has previously insisted the scheme, estimated to carry a £40m construction cost, should be built with private sector money although he subsequently instructed the London Development Agency to spend £1.2m on developing the scheme.
Despite the past assurances that private sector money would be found, it was confirmed today that ” TfL will provide upfront funding” which it would then seek to recoup “from a range of sources including the appointed commercial partner, fare revenue and sponsorship.”
There have been concerns expressed that the scheme will cross London City Airport’s so-called ‘crash zone’ however City Hall has denied this.
Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time in March Johnson said: “The proposed cable car scheme does not cross the current London City Airport Public Safety Zone (PSZ). There is a proposal to extend the PSZ which has been notified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and if this were to be confirmed the cable car will cross the western tip of the PSZ.
“Newham Planning Committee considered the application for the cable car in light of this proposed extension to extend the PSZ and consulted London City Airport and CAA both of which raised no objection. On this basis Newham approved the application.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly, said the scheme was “a great idea being let down by poor financial planning and a lack of openness.”
Pidgeon said the Mayor “must explain to Londoners why just a few months ago he was boasting that the cable car would be entirely privately funded, but now Transport for London are set to fund all the upfront costs – possibly diverting money from other important transport projects.”