While spending a few days in London during January it seemed a good idea to try the Emirates Air Line. The urban cable car system which crosses high over the River Thames linking Greenwich Peninsula with the Royal Docks. The previous day a plan to view the city from the top of the London Eye had been a washout as it had been closed for maintenance. This seemed the next best option to get a look across the capital.
It has been described as a white elephant, originally planned as not only a tourist attraction but as a viable commuting route between the two shores. It hasn’t quite realised that potential to date, not as many commuters as anticipated are regularly using the route and it is currently losing around £50,000 a week. The bonus of this, at least when on this day is that the queues and are short and waiting time minimal.
Strong winds have been blamed for the lack of popularity with the cableway needing to be shut down in the worst weather. Fortunately on this day there was hardly a breeze despite the January chill and threatening skies.
The cableway project was initiated and spearheaded by Mayor Boris Johnson, who remains optimistic that in time it will prove successful. This maybe viewing it through rose tinted glasses as the current number of regular commuters is estimated at around 16, a long way to go then.
It is therefore fortunate the most expensive cable car project ever built is being financed by Emirates to the tune of £36 million over 10 years.
The Emirates Air Line is a pretty cool way to travel from across the Thames and a novel if expensive way of doing the grocery shopping in Greenwich. It reaches a height of 90m, providing decent views over the city even if it wasn’t the clearest day. It may not be the most exciting London landscape around but my only gripe is there isn’t an option to take photographs with a window partially down. This would avoid the obvious shadows and blemishes they inflict.
The gondolas also pass high over the O2 Arena formerly the known as the Millennium Dome. At one time considered a white elephant but that didn’t turn out too bad did it?