Urban cable car takes flight over London's Thames

Urban cable car takes flight over London's Thames

Published Jun. 18, 2012 2:52 p.m. ET

Think Swiss Alps rather than San Francisco.

A new cable car will soar over the Thames River starting next week, promising to become part of the London landscape ahead of the Summer Olympics.

Transport for London has set June 28 as the opening date for Britain's first urban cable car - well in time for the massive crowds expected for the Olympics. It is called the Emirates Air Line, after the air carrier invested 36 million pounds ($56 million) as part of a 10-year sponsorship deal.

The cable car will make the half-mile (one kilometer) crossing between Greenwich and the Royal Docks, allowing visitors to take in the views of Olympic Park, the Canary Wharf financial center and the Thames Barrier, massive structures in the river that keep London from flooding.


''The Emirates Air Line is part of my plan to develop a package of new river crossings in east London and transform the surrounding area into a vibrant new metropolitan quarter that will attract new jobs, homes and enterprise,'' London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Each of the 34 cars holds 10 people and looks like the gondolas that ferry skiers up the mountains in the Swiss Alps. Travelers can go one way or round-trip, with a one-way ticket costing 3.20 pounds ($5).

Aside from being just plain fun, the cable car should help ease public transport ahead of the London games, which start July 27 and end Aug. 12.