17 November 2010
By cable car across the Thames?
Brian Micklethwait

At Londonist today, I learned for the first time of a scheme to build a ski lift across the Thames, from the Dome to the Royal Docks.


Exactly how serious this scheme is, I do not know.  But I must say, as transport infrastructural follies go, this one does seem to me to be remarkably unfoolish.  The technology, thanks to the snow-based tourist trade around the world, is well understood.  Compared to the digging up of London involved in things like Crossrail, the cost of this thing will be peanuts.  They’re now saying £25M, so make that £100M.  With luck, corporate sponsors and operators will pick up the tab.

Best of all, this being transport and not just a static Big Thing, they will want people to go on it and will make that easy, and the views from it should be excellent.  In that part of London the views are especially good, what with the towers and the curviness of the river and view west at sunset time.  (I will believe in my right to take photos from half way up the Shard when that happens, but not a moment sooner.)

If it’s a success, maybe they’ll build other such erections, as apparently they planned to in the nineties.

The one thing it will absolutely not do is “relieve congestion”, as I saw being speculated/ridiculed by various commenters, here and there.  Create more congestion is far more likely, as people journey into London to have a go on it, or, more mundanely, travel to it and from it in order to use it.

Wanky architectural fake photo here.  TfL’s (very boring and non-committal) take on it here.

  1. Why didn’t they think of it before? Why didn’t *I* think of it?

    Posted by Rob Fisher on  18 November 2010 at 06:06 pm

  2. Come to think of it, ski lift is probably wrong, because that means skiers being individually hoiked up, like in a parachute, whereas this is entire pods, each for several people, hanging down off the wire.

    Nevertheless, as all devotees of Where Eagles Dare will know, this is also a technology well understood in snowy, mountainous countries.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on  18 November 2010 at 07:36 pm

  3. They’ve got a new one here in Portland, Oregon, to bring folks up to OHSU from the river.  I’m sitting here at said hospital right now, drinking my coffee and looking out the window at the tram.  I do recall that it was something of a financial boondoggle getting it finished, but then again, those are the sorts of things this silly city is known for.

    Posted by mose jefferson on  19 November 2010 at 07:04 pm

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