London welcomes new cable car over River Thames

A new 1.1 km-long cable car system has opened to the public which links up two parts of east London across the River Thames. The scheme took advantage of a major contribution from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund to help pay for all necessary infrastructure including two stations, steel support towers and 36 gondolas.

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The cable car opened in summer 2012 and provides a new way of crossing the Thames between North Greenwich and the Royal Victoria Docks. The route is capable of carrying up to 2 500 passengers per hour across the river.

The project involved building two stations in North Greenwich and Newham, both of which have good access to London’s transport system. The South Station in Greenwich is located about 300 m to the south of North Greenwich Jubilee Line tube station and the O2 Arena, which is one of London’s major concert venues. The station’s ground floor includes space for a ticketing office as well as areas for retail outlets and exhibitions. The first floor houses the gondola boarding area.

Across the river, the North Station at Royal Victoria Dock is located about 200 m from the Docklands Light Railway Station. The ground floor houses the ticketing office and provides retail space, while passengers use the upper floor to access the cable cars. This station also houses the main drive facility that powers the cable car system, along with the electrical substations.

Flexible service

The cable car system has 36 gondolas, 34 of which can be in operation at any one time. Each gondola can carry ten passengers and folding seats allow for wheelchair access and space for bicycles. The cars can run at a maximum speed of six metres per second, but normal operation will be around three to four metres per second, giving an overall journey time of about five to six minutes. The cars are carried aloft by two compression towers at either end of the cable and a further three support towers along the route. The largest of the towers stand 91 m high, which means cable car customers are afforded great views of the surrounding area.

During construction, the project was able to reclaim or redevelop1.97 hectares of brownfield land. In addition, a 50 m long watercourse was enhanced and restored.

Total and EU funding

The project “A Cable Car for London” has a total eligible budget of EUR 90 000 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 27 000 000 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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