Cable car completion date still a mystery

By Rob Virtue on May 16, 2012 1:06 PM |

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Cable cars are regularly flying across the Thames as safety testing continues on the next river crossing.

However, Transport for London is still refusing to confirm whether it will be open to the public for the beginning of the Olympics in 10 weeks' time and instead said it was working to a "summer deadline".

So far only one member of staff has ridden in a cars, which rise to 90m, and the route is undergoing a six-week testing period with weights on board to simulate people.

Construction work is also taking place on the terminals at Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.

Mace project director Matthew Randall said: "We're heading in the right direction for the Olympics but there's still some way to go."

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TfL has always maintained the river crossing is not part of the Olympic transport network, despite linking two Games venues at The O2 and Excel.

Officials are keen to make sure all they are completely convinced on all safety aspects before it will consider opening the transport link to the public.

The testing includes ensuring each cabin can hold at least 750kg (the equivalent of 10 men).

Trips to the other side of the Thames will last about five minutes. It will be capable of carrying 2,500 people every hour in each direction.

Details still to be decided include the hours of operation and the price for users.

However, the cable car's operations manager Danny Price said there would be incentives for regular customers and Oyster pay as you go users would receive discounts similar to those on Thames Clippers, which currently offers a 10 per cent reduction. Bikes will also be encouraged on the cable car.

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TfL is still waiting to hear if the transport link will receive cash from the European Regional Development Fund to cover the cost of construction. Emirates has already signed a £36million sponsorship deal to pay for 80 per cent of the build. The agreement includes branding the cable car as the Emirates Air Line on the Tube map.

Mr Price said: "The cable car is a unique offering borne out of the need to transport people over the river but it's going to attract another group of people, particularly being so close to The O2 and the Excel. The aim is to get everyone involved in it.

"There are a number of cities who use urban cable cars such as New York and Singapore, which has had an extremely successful cable car since the '70s. It's a unique way to travel."

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