Urban Transport

Gizmag rides London's new Thames Cable Car

Gizmag rides London's new Tham...
Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond (Photo: Gizmag)
Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond (Photo: Gizmag)
View 9 Images
Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond (Photo: Gizmag)
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Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond (Photo: Gizmag)
An off-peak one-way trip takes 10 minutes, but before 10 am and after 3 pm the electric motors are ramped up reducing the journey down to 5 minutes (Photo: Gizmag)
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An off-peak one-way trip takes 10 minutes, but before 10 am and after 3 pm the electric motors are ramped up reducing the journey down to 5 minutes (Photo: Gizmag)
The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure (Photo: Gizmag)
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The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure (Photo: Gizmag)
The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure (Photo: Gizmag)
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The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure (Photo: Gizmag)
Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond (Photo: Gizmag)
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Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond (Photo: Gizmag)
Gizmag rides the newest addition to London's transport network (Photo: Gizmag)
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Gizmag rides the newest addition to London's transport network (Photo: Gizmag)
An off-peak one-way trip takes 10 minutes, but before 10 am and after 3 pm the electric motors are ramped up reducing the journey down to 5 minutes (Photo: Gizmag)
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An off-peak one-way trip takes 10 minutes, but before 10 am and after 3 pm the electric motors are ramped up reducing the journey down to 5 minutes (Photo: Gizmag)
Gizmag rides the newest addition to London's transport network (Photo: Gizmag)
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Gizmag rides the newest addition to London's transport network (Photo: Gizmag)
An adult single fare is £4.30 (US$6.66) (Photo: Gizmag)
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An adult single fare is £4.30 (US$6.66) (Photo: Gizmag)
View gallery - 9 images

Gizmag recently took the opportunity to ride the newest addition to London's public transport system, a kilometer-long (0.62-mile), 93-meter tall (305 ft) cable car system offering passengers commanding views of East London and beyond.

Branded the Emirates Air Line (get it?), the cable car opened on June 28 in time for the forthcoming Olympics. The gondola lift, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, connects the Royal Docks north of the river Thames with North Greenwich to the south.

An off-peak one-way trip takes 10 minutes, but before 10 am and after 3 pm the electric motors are ramped up reducing the journey down to 5 minutes. This allows its 34 gondolas, which arrive every 30 seconds, to move up to 2500 people per hour.

The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure (Photo: Gizmag)
The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure (Photo: Gizmag)

The views take in the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium; but mostly one sees the grimy face of East London's industry and infrastructure replete with Portakabins, rail lines, warehouses, and a charming waste disposal facility (feel free to interpret that as sarcasm, but some of us genuinely enjoy this sort of thing).

Pricing seems firmly intended to dissuade locals from using the thing on a whim. An adult single fare is £4.30 (US$6.66), though a return can be had for £8.60 - a generous saving of zero percent. In fairness, this is in line with current London Underground prices, and there is a 25-percent discount to holders of an Oyster card, the contactless card that is Transport for London's payment method of preference.

However, there is good news for commuters for whom the cable car is a practical option (which I think would necessitate living at one end and working at the other). Ten single fares can be bought at once for £16 ($24.85).

An adult single fare is £4.30 (US$6.66) (Photo: Gizmag)
An adult single fare is £4.30 (US$6.66) (Photo: Gizmag)

Regular travelers are at risk of losing patience with the pretense that one is catching an airplane rather than a cable car. Thanks to the Emirates sponsorship, tickets aren't tickets, they're "boarding passes," the staff is dressed in flight attendant uniforms and a giant faintly-Orwellian video screen welcomes you back to terra firma after a pleasant flight.

Though usually associated with ski resorts (or Bavarian fortresses), urban gondola lifts are increasingly popular, having already cropped up in Medellín and Manizales (Colombia), Portland and New York (USA), and Caracas (Venezuela).

Source: Transport for London

View gallery - 9 images
2 comments
Slowburn
I have enjoyed the view from a couple such rides and if I get to London I will have it on my itinerary. However the real question is how cost effective is it to build and operate? It is appears cheaper to build than a subway or elevated rail system and it doesn't screw up traffic the way buses and on grade rail does.
I could see building owners making perpetual leases on mid level spaces at reasonable rates expecting to make up the difference on the rent from businesses catering to the transient crowds.
If you have convenient winds you could construct the system as a low efficiency wind mill.
John in Brisbane
Unless there's sufficient room on the roof of the gondola to conduct a proper gun/knife/fist fight, I'm not interested. Even then, I want snow underneath in case I lose the aforementioned fight and need to drop from the gondola to a fortunately placed snow mobile, to continue my mission.