Monday, 5 November 2012

Cable Car across River Thames: Crystal and Future Cities

1st November 2012

The Emirates cable car can be found at North Greenwich London Underground.  The single journey costs £3.20 with a Freedom Pass or an Oyster Card.  The cash fare is £4.30 single (one way)

North Greenwich is on the Jubilee Line and exiting the station is straightforward.  There are toilets in this station and one of the exits leads on to a wide walkway with the Dome (O2 Centre) on the left hand side.  The cable car departure gates are down the walkway and on the right hand side. 

There may be a maze for tickets.  An oyster card will let you through the gates, but you will need to buy a ticket from machines if you have a Freedom Pass.  There was a very helpful staff member who issued a ticket for me as I had the correct money.  I was with a friend who used his Oyster Card. 

We went through the gates and up a short flight of stairs to the cable car area.    While there was a bottleneck at the ticket maze, the boarding area was quiet.  A cable car can hold up to 10 people, but we got one to ourselves.

Prof Whitestick gazing at River Thames from Emirates Cable Car
1st November, 2012

The car climbs and soon we were above the Thames.  I could make out the Dome and the River and a Thames Clipper plying its way across the river on its way upstream.  It seemed like landing at London City Airport which I used to frequent in the past for flights to Rotterdam, Edinburgh and Amsterdam.  In fact some planes were taking off as we landed in the Royal Victoria Dock.  Very helpful staff all along the way. 
View from cable car with O2 Centre Dome on the left
and Canary Wharf at the centre back
1st November, 2012

More information on the cable car can be found on:

From the cable car, I wondered what the two parallelogram-like buildings were, so we explored.  It turned out to be the Crystal, a forum and exhibition exploring how future cities can be made more sustainable.  ( 

Prof Whitestick outside the Crystal
1st November, 2012
We walked in and had a delightful visit.  I was chatting with Steve who showed me how to swipe a card onto which a record is kept of your visit and interactions.  The building and space is designed with acoustic precision and one can wander from one topic to another and though the touchscreens are not voice-overed, there is a limited choice of menus so navigation, while not precise, is rather good for serendipity.  I found topics on electric cars, wind farms, solar panels, photovoltaic systems, transport, concrete, health.  There are special sound effects and much large scale video technologies.  The café is also futuristic and I am glad to say that my scone with jam and cream was vintage as was the coffee. 

We returned by DLR (make sure your friend uses the touch pads on entering and exiting as passes are checked).