London's first cable car river crossing is to officially open to the public today.
The cable car link stretches across the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula in the south to the Royal Docks in the north. The 10-minute journey will offer 360-degree views of the City, Canary Wharf, historic Greenwich, the Thames Barrier and the Olympic Park.
Transport for London said the construction work cost close to £45 million. Dubai-based Emirates provided £36 million in sponsorship for the project as part of a 10-year deal.
The link was built quickly – construction work only began last July. The 1.1km cable stretches over three towers, allowing 34 cabins to carry up to 2,500 people an hour each way between the two terminals.
The 90m-high steel towers were manufactured in Bolton. Two towers were erected in sections on land while the south tower, the largest of the three, was mounted in the Thames, adjacent to the O2 arena.
The south tower weighs 570 tonnes and is made up of 6,500 steel pieces measuring between 30 and 50mm long.
Each tower is topped with a “head” supplied by specialist cable car contractor Doppelmayr which allows the cabling to run across the tops of the structures.
The cabling is 50mm thick and made of twisted steel in nearly 300 separate strands. It was pulled into place and tensioned using a 12-tonne winch located on the platform of the south terminal.
The cable was clamped and secured at each station and tensioned to gain a minimum clearance of 55m above the Thames.
London Mayor Boris Johnson rode in one of the cable cars before the public opening. Emerging after his crossing, he said: “Get on this cable car immediately. It's beautiful, worth every penny and a stunning piece of engineering.”
He added that the new system would provide a much-needed connection across the Thames and become “a must-see destination in its own right”.
Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground and London Rail, said: “This innovative transport link across the Thames will boost regeneration in the area. It's the first urban cable car in the UK.
“Much of the manufacture, including the steel towers, was built in the UK, boosting companies across the country.”
The river crossing is expected to be a key link between Olympic venues this summer, helping to alleviate some of the pressure on London's busy transport network.
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