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World's most expensive cable car might not be ready for Olympics

The transport link between two Olympic venues that might not be ready for the Games. ITN's Simon Harris reports.

The world's most expensive cable car is undergoing tests in London – but authorities admit the project, which links two Olympic venues, may not open in time for this summer's Games.

The 1,000-yard gondola lift line crosses the River Thames in east London and is planned to be both a commuter route and a tourist attraction.


It has been enthusiastically backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, but opponents point out the scheme will use public money despite a huge $57 million sponsorship deal with Dubai-based Emirates Airlines which means the facility will be officially known as the Emirates Air Line.

PhotoBlog: London's new Thames cable car in place - but will it be ready for the Olympics?

It will cost up to $95 million in total, with around $20 million coming from local public funds.

Transit authority Transport for London (TfL), which will operate the cable car, will only say the project will be open "in the summer," raising the prospect that it will not be ready in time for the London 2012 Games in July. TfL insists the route was never part of the Olympic transport plan.

Two 300ft-high pillars will carry more than 30 gondolas across the river from the O2 – the Greenwich concert venue that will host events including the gymnastics and basketball finals – to the Docklands-based ExCel conference center which is being used for boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

The cost of a journey on the Emirates Air Line has not yet been set, but TfL says it will be similar to the frequent Thames River Boat service whose fares are around $8. Passengers will be able to pay with Oyster cards, the pre-payment "smart card" used by millions of Londoners.

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A diverse community in East London will welcome the world to Britain for the 2012 Olympic Games. Meet residents and hear how they feel about having a huge, world stage in their backyard.

Although the cost will be significantly higher than the equivalent bus or subway journey, the views from the 10-person gondolas traveling 160 feet above the ground are undoubtedly more appealing. 

TfL says the system will move 2,000 passengers an hour -- the equivalent capacity of more than 30 buses.

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