Category Archives: Transport


London Cable Car Oystercard Deals?
Steam on the Overground
The Queen’s Jubilee Royal Barge – Gloriana
London Cable Cars Crossing The Thames
Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy
New Routemaster Bus Returns to London
London’s Air Ambulance

London Cable Car Oystercard Deals?

The London Cable Car Crossing Opens

According to “The Orbit Tower – London Cable Car” and other sources, a single fare across the Thames on the new London Cable Car opening on June 18th will cost £3.20 if you pay by Oystercard Pay-as-you-go.

But they also have a special offer return trip non-stop bargain price of only £6.40!

So it’s exactly twice as much to stay on and ride back and firth once as it is to combine two singe trips with a stroll around the other side, or whatever.

What’s the sense in that?

But more to the point, how do you click in and click out to ensure you are always charged the correct fare?

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Steam on the Overground

A steam train ran along the Gospel Oak to Barking branch of the London Overground today June 16th pulling vintage passenger coaches. I’m trying to find out more about it, as I’ve seen or heard this before. The sighting was near Woodgrange Park station heading West so it may have destined to switch tracks onto the mainline towards Stratford, something to do with the Olympics opening ceremony perhaps? There was certainly a steam hauled train crossing one of the main bridges over the Thames in central London for the Queen’s Jubilee River Pageant last bank holiday weekend so it may have been the same one, or maybe the Orient Express making its way around London avoiding the main terminus stations.

A Steam Engine, Not on the Overground

Thanks to Jim Easterbrook who alerted me to I now know that the steam engine I heard and saw on the Barking to Gospel Oak line must have been the BR Cass 8P 4-6-2 no 71000 Duke of Gloucester pulling the THE CATHEDRALS EXPRESS on the Steam hauled: Southend-Gloucester-Southend run. How about that then! And given the timetable information, It should be possible to catch the return passage at about twenty to nine this evening, weather permitting.

Yes, isn’t the internet clever sometimes.

Here’s a picture of the said Duke of Gloucester steaming through Woodgrange Park station only about 5 minutes late at 8.49 pm tonight.


Duke of Gloucester

Duke of Gloucester

0.0 Southend Central d 09:34 71000  
  Pitsea 09:50    
    d 09:46    
  Upminster a 10:04    
    d 10:06    
  Barking 10:18    
    d 10:22    
  Leyton Midland Rd 10:35    
  South Tottenham 10:45    
  Harringay Park Jc 10:50    
  Gospel Oak 10:57    
  Willesden Jc HL 11:11    
  Acton ML 11:25    
  Southall 11:36    
  Heathrow Airport Jc 11:39    
  Slough 11:49    
  Maidenhead 11:59    
  Reading 12:16    
  Didcot Parkway 12:33    
  Challow a 12:45 water  
    d 13:08    
  Swindon 13:23    
  Kemble 13:47    
  St Marys Crossing 13:57    
  Standish Jc 14:09    
  Gloucester a 14:20    
0.0 Gloucester d 16:58 71000  
  Standish Jc 17:10    
  St Marys Crossing 17:19    
  Kemble 17:32    
  Swindon 17:49    
  Challow 18:02    
  Wantage Road a 18:07 water  
    d 18:43    
  Didcot Parkway 18:55    
  Reading 19:15    
  Maidenhead 19:29    
  Slough 19:36    
  Heathrow Airport Jc 19:46    
  Southall 19:48    
  Acton Main Line 19:55    
  Willesden Jc HL 20:01    
  Gospel Oak 20:15    
  Harringay Park Jc 20:20    
  South Tottenham 20:25    
  Leyton Midland Rd 20:35    
  Barking 20:46    
  Upminster a 21:08    
    d 21:10    
  Pitsea 21:25    
  Southend Central a 21:42               

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The Queen’s Jubilee Royal Barge – Gloriana

Gloriana Royal Barge Updated

The Royal Barge Gloriana was also used spectacularly in 2012 on the day of the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games, carrying the Olympic flame downstream along the Thames towards the Tower of London.

The £1m royal barge Gloriana, which led the river pageant during the Diamond Jubilee in June, was rowed by 16 crew, who were chosen from a squad of 28 on-board rowers on the day.

end update

A large size photograph of the Royal Barge being made ready for the Queen’s Jubilee river procession at the bank holiday weekend. The ‘Gloriana’ as the new royal barge has been named, was moored at Richmond upon Thames alongside a cafe boat with guarded access.

Royal Barge Gloriana from the Thames

Gloriana – the Royal Barge


The photograph was taken from the middle of the river Thames, on board a cruise boat from Westminster to Hampton Court via Kew and Richmond. For more views of the Royal Barge taken from the riverside see the following slide show on Flickr.

The Royal Barge Gloriana is a clinker-built hand crafted wooden vessel of the style which was common on the River Thames in the sixteenth century and featured in Canaletto’s paintings of river scenes

Canaletto painting from 1747

Canaletto painting from 1747


The Royal Barge is in fact a rowing boat, and will lead a flotilla of more than 1000 boats along the Thames for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant On Sunday 3rd June 2012

It will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river. Rowed boats and working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes will be beautifully dressed with streamers and Union Flags, their crews and passengers turned out in their finest rigs. The armed forces, fire, police, rescue and other services will be afloat and there will be an exuberance of historic boats, wooden launches, steam vessels and other boats of note.

The flotilla will be bolstered with passenger boats carrying flag-waving members of the public placed centre stage (or rather mid-river) in this floating celebration of Her Majesty’s 60 year reign. The spectacle will be further enhanced with music barges and boats spouting geysers. Moreover, there will be specially constructed elements such as a floating belfry, its chiming bells answered by those from riverbank churches.


Even my favourite cruise boat, The Mercedes will be taking part in the flotilla as part of the passenger boat section.

The Mercedes


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London Cable Cars Crossing The Thames

It was back in 2010 that I reported the London Cable Car Thames Crossing may go ahead, and now here it is. stretched over London’s River Thames between North Greenwich ( The O2 Millennium Dome) and The Royal Victoria Docks for the Excel Centre, the ‘Emirates Air Line’ consists of 34 cable cars suspended 50 metres above the river taking 10 people each. That’s up to 2,500 passengers an hour, equivalent to 50 buses or the hourly number of people passing through the nearby Blackwall Tunnel by road.

The slender suspension masts were erected last month and after weeks of testing, the gondolas have now been attached and can be seen slowly passing each other in the videos and photographs I took from the deck of a cruise boat en route to the Thames Barrier yesterday.

So the cable car gondolas are in place and operational, the next question being will the service be fully tested and open to the public in time for the London 2012 Olympics starting in less than 100 days time?

For the duration of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics the Emirates Cable Car Crossing  will help to transport spectators and athletes between two Olympics venues: The O2 dome (renamed North Greenwich Arena for the Games) where gymnastics and basketball  will be competed, and the Excel Exhibition Centre, temporarily(?) home to combat sports.

But what about after the Olympic Games are over – the legacy? Will enough  Londoners  find a cable car more useful than the Jubilee Line, DLR or buses on a daily basis or will it become little more than a compliment to the Orbit Tower, a visitor attraction for tourists and photographers?

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Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy

You can see the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy building from the train between Manor Park and Ilford, on the mainline from Liverpool Street Station to Shenfield, or intercity to Ipswich and Norwich. I saw the earthworks when it was being built, but didn’t know what it was at the time. Now there’s an enormous black shed over the site, with large red lettering which reads “Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy” The words are so big I couldn’t even fit them into one photograph with my camera set to widescreen!

Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy building

Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy

Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy
So what is do they do there exactly? Well, pretty much what it says on the tin, but what they omit to say in the title is that it’s all linked to the Crossrail project.

The establishment of a Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) is central to Crossrail’s delivery plans and its legacy to the industry.

What is TUCA?

The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) is a purpose-built training facility that supports the key skills required to work in tunnel excavation, underground construction and infrastructure.

By building and establishing TUCA, Crossrail is contributing to the development of new qualifications and Health and Safety standards across the industry.

Crossrail is working with industry, professional bodies and other organisations with a requirement for skilled underground workers, to ensure that the facilities and training at TUCA  are aligned with the needs of the industry.


Crossrail itself is the huge engineering project to build a new underground east west railway line underneath London, connecting Heathrow and Paddington through to the City and Docklands, and out through Manor Park and Ilford to Shenfield. Its the beginning of an extra deeper, faster layer to the London undergound system which should really have begun in the 1970s like the RER in Paris. The first trains running on part of Crossrail are due in 2018 with a full through service sketched in to commence in December 2019.

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New Routemaster Bus Returns to London

The Routemaster bus will be back on the streets of London from Monday 27th Feb 2012. Londoners’ favourite bus – the only one you can hop on and off ( except this one has  doors) – has been redesigned by British designer Thomas Heatherwick.

New Routemaster Bus

New Routemaster Bus in the rain

Thomas Heatherwick (born 17 February 1970) is an English designer known for innovative use of engineering and materials in public monuments and sculptures. He heads Heatherwick Studio, a design and architecture studio, which he founded in 1994.

By incorporating an open platform at its rear, the bus reinstates one of the much-loved features of the 1950s Routemaster which offered a ‘hop-on hop-off’ service. The new design will also have three doors and two staircases, making it quicker and easier for passengers to board.

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London’s Air Ambulance


I saw a car driving up the Romford Road the other day with “Air Ambulance” written on the side.
It didn’t fool me, I know what a helicopter sounds like.


Ok, there is a perfectly good explanation for why the Air Ambulance Service needs to send cars when it’s too dark or difficult for the helicopter to land. That makes sense. But it still doesn’t make sense to label the car as an “Air Ambulance” which is how it appears. They’re going to have to keep explaining that one over and over again to more and more people for as long as the silly branding exercise continues.

The other question that comes to mind is, in what circumstances is it more effective  to dispatch the London Air Ambulance replacement car service all the way from Whitechapel rather than a local Ambulance from the neighbourhood hospitals ambulance services?

London’s Air Ambulance PR Manager replies:

London’s Air Ambulance is not just an airlifting service. We carry a highly experienced doctor on board, usually an Anaesthetist or A&E consultant. We also carry a specially trained paramedic. The service is about the expertise of the medical team. They are the only roadside trauma team who look after London and the helicopter is a means of getting them to the patient quicker as London is one of the most congested cities in the world. As well as being too dangerous at night to land, due to objects such as telephone wires, it is also not as busy and our rapid response vehicles can get about London quite quickly. The team generally patrol central London waiting for a call to a serious incident so they are positioned to get to any area of London quickly. They do not always base themselves at Whitechapel. We are different to a normal ambulance service. Our services will be called upon because our team performs procedures on scene that are normally only found in the hospital emergency department. This has included open chest surgery and bringing a patient back to life who would otherwise be clinically dead and this is a procedure only our team are able to do at the roadside.

One of our paramedics is always based in the London Ambulance control room, monitoring the thousands of 999 calls which pass there every day. As our trauma team are indispensible we have to ensure they are dispatched to the right jobs. The types of incidents they attend include serious road traffic collisions, industrial accidents, falls from heights, drownings and penetrative trauma. We have also attended every major incident in London since inception, including the 7th July terrorist bombings.

I understand that having London’s Air Ambulance labelled on the cars might be confusing, however when the service was initially set up we only had a helicopter. The cars were introduced as it was found there was a need for them as more people where dying unnecessarily at night time in London. Last year, with the help of donations from the public and LAS, we were able to go 24 hours. We probably will have to keep explaining this one over and over again but each time we have to; we are educating one more person as to what our operation is about and hopefully to the fact that we are a charity. We provide an imperative service to London and the cars are a very important part of our service.

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Thanks for reading Andy Roberts articles about Transport on the DARnet Blog