O2 To Get Cable Car Link

London’s transport authority has confirmed it will build a cable car link between The O2 arena and the Royal Victoria Dock, which is on the north bank of the River Thames.

Transport For London said it’s striving to have the project finished in time for the Olympic Games, which start in the city July 27, 2012.
The O2 is one of the venues being used for the Games and so is the ExCeL exhibition centre, which is near the Victoria Dock.

The scheme was launched last June but has become the subject of controversy as the cost of the project has since doubled to £50.5 million.

London Mayor Boris Johnson says it’s still much cheaper than the £500 million, six-lane road bridge that failed to win the approval of local residents. Johnson has said the link spanning “the majestic Thames” will provide “a unique and pioneering addition” to the city’s skyline.

In December the Tory mayor was forced to duck questions about the funding for the link, after Labour councilors learned that some of the cash will need to come from the public purse.

It’s still not clear where the rest of the money will come from, as Transport For London is still trying to find investors in return for sponsorship, including naming rights and branding options.

The 34 cabins will carry up to 2,500 people per hour on a five-minute, 1.1-kilometre journey across the river. The system will be similar to those already in operation in New York, Hamburg and Cologne.

The east London dockland where The O2 is situated was once part of the world’s largest port, but the area had fallen derelict by the 1980s. It’s now the focus of regeneration efforts, with the Olympics part of the plan to revamp the East End.

The cable car link was designed by London architects Wilkinson Eyre. The consortium chosen to build and operate the scheme will be led by Mace, whose past projects in the city include the London Eye observation wheel and the Shard, which will be the tallest building in Western Europe.