Today I am off to London to do a couple of things, a trip on the Dangleway which opened in June, and hopefully a look around a Royal Navy boat which has been moored up near Greenwich since Friday. The boat is part of the Olympic build up, it will be used by helicopters. I found out about the boat from the Ian visits web site which is always worth a look of you are planning a trip to London and want something to do whilst there.
I anticipated that the boat tour would be popular so o got the 08:39 train from Berkhamsted, then the southbound northern line to Bank, make sure you get the right platform, then the docklands light railway to Greenwich.
The queue for the Tour round HMS Ocean was about 400m long but I decided it was worth the wait, as the ropes were only available for the one day, and I had arrived early enough at 10:05.
Whilst waiting I checked out Wikipedia to find out a bit more about HMS Ocean, HMS Ocean of the Royal Navy is an amphibious assault ship (or landing platform helicopter) and is the sole member of her class. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force.
She was constructed in the mid 1990s by Kvaerner Govan Ltd on the Clyde and fitted out by VSEL at Barrow-in-Furness prior to first of class trials and subsequent acceptance in service. She was commissioned in September 1998 at her home port HMNB Devonport, Plymouth.
The queue went through a couple of tents the first was filled with chairs and was showing a Royal Navy promotional film, however no one day down they just stayed in the queue we didn’t want to join the navy we all wanted to have a look round the big boat!
I reached the front of the queue a surprising 30 minutes later, and it soon became clear why, the 2 boats ferrying us to the vessel were quite big. We looped round the back of the vessel before pulling along side so we could disembark. Once on board we were ushered up a stairway and into a large area within the heart of the boat, there were demonstrations going on you could, put on an army pack, or learn about reasons and guns. Took the opportunity to climb up the ramp to get some pictures of the helicopters on the deck, then went back in to follow the Tour round the rest of the boat. We were told all about the landing craft that they had strung up on the side then we ended up in an even bigger hangar arts on the bowels of the vessel, where there were more demonstrations and helicopters. I took as many pictures as I could buy the light was very poor.
Then it was time to get back on the little boat and go back to the Greenwich quayside, where I took a few pictures of the Cutty Sark, before heading off along the Thames path towards the dome. The path is a bit in a state of disrepair and in one place I even saw someone lose a show in the mud, o think the whole thing needs some money thrown at it to bring it up to the standard of the path on the other side of the river. Once at the Dome I stopped off to have some lunch, a humous sandwich which because it was a cafe rouge came with French fries, and welcome it was too. Next stop was the dangleway.
You might be wondering what I am talking about well it seems that the Dangleway is what people have started to call the Emirates Air Line, which is a cable car which goes over the Thames.
Emirates Air Line (also known as the Thames Cable Car) is a Transport for London (TfL) gondola lift cable car link across the River Thames in London built with sponsorship from the air carrier Emirates. The service opened on the 28 June 2012.
On 4 July 2010, TfL announced plans to develop a cable car crossing over the River Thames. It is the first urban cable car in the United Kingdom. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, it crosses the river at a height up to 90 metres (300 ft), higher than that of the Millennium Dome. The cable car provides a crossing every 15 seconds carrying up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, equivalent to the capacity of 50 buses. The cable car can also convey bicycles and passengers are able to use Oyster Cards to pay for their journeys.
A planning application was submitted to the London Borough of Newham in October 2010 for the “erection of a cable car for the length of 1,100 metres [3,600 ft] over the River Thames from North Woolwich Peninsula to Royal Victoria Dock at a minimum clearance of 54.1 metres [177 ft] above mean high water springs”. The application listed the structures planned for the service on the north side of the Thames as an 87-metre (285 ft) north main tower at Clyde Wharf, a 66-metre (217 ft) north intermediate tower south of the Docklands Light Railway tracks roughly mid-way between Canning Town and West Silvertown stations, a two-storey gondola station and “boat impact protection” in Royal Victoria Dock. South of the river there is a 60-metre (200 ft) main support tower and a boarding station within the O2 Arena car park.
When the project was announced, TfL initially budgeted that it would cost £25 million and announced this would be entirely funded by private finance. This figure was revised to £45 million, and by September 2011 the budget had more than doubled to £60 million, reportedly because TfL had not taken account of the costs of legal advice, project management, land acquisition and other costs. TfL planned to make up the shortfall by paying for the project out of the London Rail budget, applying for funding from the European Regional Development Fund and seeking commercial sponsorship.
In January 2011, News International were planning to sponsor the project but subsequently withdrew its offer. In October 2011, it was announced that the Dubai-based airline Emirates would provide £36 million in a 10-year sponsorship deal which included branding of the cable car service with the airline’s name.
Construction began in August 2011 with Mace as the lead contractor. Mace built the cable car for £45 million and will operate it for the first three years for a further £5.5 million. TfL stated that the initial construction funding and Emirates sponsorship will cover £36 million of the cost; the rest will be funded from fares. The cable car will be the most expensive cable system ever built.
In May 2012, TfL said that the cable car would be ready for people to use by summer 2012, and that while there were originally no plans to have it open before the 2012 Olympics, there would be plans in place in case it was opened in time. The public opening took place at 12:00 BST on 28 June 2012. TfL reports that the total cost of the project was about £60 million of which £45 million went towards construction. TfL estimates that the service can carry 2,500 people per hour.
The queues were long and there was some confusion, first you needed to join a younger queue of which there were two, one for humans and one for the ticket machines, I did not realize at first and ended up in the human queue but soon transferred to the ticket machines queue when it became obvious it was shorter and quicker. In all it took me about 45 minute to get a ticket, then I was able to join the boarding queue!
Once there it was all over in a flash, we were ushered up the stairs and into a pod then at 8.6 miles per hour we were up and over the river and disembarked on the other side. The journey is really smooth apart from when you go over a pylon, and the view is great liking down on the Dome.
Next it was back on the docklands light railway to head back home. I quite enjoy the DLR as most of it is over ground, do you get to see where you are going a bit like when you take the bus in London. Anyway the journey home went well all train waits were about a minute or two and then when I got to Euston the next train was in five minutes so I was was back to see the end of the days stage of Le Tour.