The Emirates Air Line is a cable car link across the River Thames in London, England, built by Doppelmayr with sponsorship from the airline Emirates. The service opened on 28 June 2012 and is operated by Transport for London. In addition to transport across the river, the service advertises “a unique view of London”. The duration of a single crossing is ten minutes (reduced to five minutes in rush hour as the service speed is increased).
The service, announced in July 2010 and estimated to cost £60,000,000, comprises a 1-kilometre (0.62 mi) gondola line that crosses the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Victoria Dock, to the west of ExCeL London. Construction of the cable car began in August 2011. The cable car is based on monocable detachable gondola (MDG) technology, a system which uses a single cable for both propulsion and support, used also on the Metrocable in Medellín, Colombia. The MDG system is reportedly cheaper and quicker to install than a more complex three-cable system which would allow larger-capacity cars.
On 4 July 2010, Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to develop a cable car crossing over the River Thames, which would be the first urban cable car in the United Kingdom. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Expedition Engineering and Buro Happold, it crosses the river at a height up to 90 metres (300 ft), higher than that of the nearby O2 Arena. The cable car provides a crossing every 15 seconds, with a maximum capacity of 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, about 50 busloads. Bicycles may be carried. Passengers can pay for their journeys with pay-as-you-go Oyster cards.
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 Greenwich 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 midway 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’s initial budget was £25 million; they announced this would be entirely funded by private finance. This figure was first revised to £45 million, and by September 2011 had more than doubled to £60 million, reportedly because TfL had not included 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. €9.7m of ERDF support, out of an estimated €65.56m total budget, was agreed on 9 July 2012.
In January 2011, News International was planning to sponsor the project, but 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 was to operate it for the first three years for a further £5.5 million. TfL stated that the initial construction funding and Emirates sponsorship would cover £36 million of the cost, with the rest to be funded from fares. In 2011 the cable car was the most expensive cable system ever built.
There are 36 passenger gondolas, of which 34 are in use at any one time, with a maximum capacity of 10 passengers each. All passenger gondolas are ready for disabled persons using wheelchairs, including those ones with leg rest extensions.
A good thing with the Emirates Air Line is that you can use your Oyster Card to pay for your trip with the cable car.
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Hi! I am Håkan. I am the author of this website. I work with IT and photography is my hobby. I also like to travel and cooking. Living in Malmö, Sweden.