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Emirates Air Line Cable Car for the Olympic Tourists

BY Boon Koh
Published 11 June 2012

If you’ve been in East London over the past few months, you might have seen something in the sky that made you stop and stare. It’s the new London cable car, or to call it by its proper name, the “Emirates Air Line”. I wonder how much money was spent to hire a branding agency to come up with that original name…

Anyways, the Emirates Air Line cable car is quite an interesting development, in a city where transportation projects take ages to come to fruition. Just look at the East London Line that is now the revamped London Overground. Took them more than 10 years from idea to opening day.

The Emirates Air Line was built with the Olympics in mind – the scheme was only announced in July 2010, and it was surprising that all the funding (£60m) and all the necessary permissions were obtained to start construction in August 2011.

The cable car spans from in front of the O2 Arena in North Greenwich to the Royal Docks, stopping next to the ExCeL exhibition centre and the Royal Victoria Docks DLR station. The distance between the two stations is only just over a kilometer long, and it will be a bike friendly scheme – so you can bring your own bicycles (and maybe the Boris Bikes too) onto the cable car cabins.

There are questions though whether anyone, after the Olympics, will really use the cable car. The position is somewhat awkward – how any people want to get between ExCeL exhibition centre and the O2 Arena on a given day? I don’t think that commuters will really take to it, both ends of the cable car are already well served by the DLR and the Jubilee Line.

The only consolation is that you will be able to use your Oyster Card for the cable car journey. BUT it won’t be the standard London Tube or Bus cost – instead, the cable car ride is going to be priced as high as a £3 to £5 for a single journey. So you won’t be able to use the Emirates Air Line cable car free on your Oyster travelcard.

Is it a white elephant project or not? Have your say in the comments section below!


  • James Miller

    It’ll be like the London Eye in the East.  Superb views up and down the river and I’m sure it’ll end up as a must-see for tourists. I travel the DLR a lot, and it always surprises me how many visitors to London, you find exploring on the line and the sights close to it.

  • Vale

    I went on the cable car a few weeks ago and I’m sorry to contradict what James Miller just said: it’s not a nice view at all…unless you’re into construction sites.

  • http://www.london-insider.co.uk Boon Koh

    The surrounding area around the cable car is a bit grim, isn’t it?

  • Vale

    Yes, it is. The only good thing is that you can see City Airport planes taking off :)