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London cable car

Coordinates: 51°30′13″N 00°00′47″E / 51.50361°N 0.01306°E / 51.50361; 0.01306
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

IFS Cloud Cable Car
London Cable Car logo from London Underground Map May 2022
The three pylons, seen from north of the River Thames
Other name(s)London cable car
The Dangleway
LocaleGreenwich/Docklands, London, United Kingdom
Coordinates51°30′13″N 00°00′47″E / 51.50361°N 0.01306°E / 51.50361; 0.01306
  • Greenwich Peninsula (west)
  • Royal Docks (east)
WebsiteOfficial website
TypeGondola lift
Operator(s)Transport for London
Rolling stockDoppelmayr
Ridership1,314,783 (in 2018)[1]
Opened28 June 2012; 12 years ago (2012-06-28)[2]
Line length1,100 m (3,600 ft)
ElectrificationElectric motor powering cable bullwheel Auxiliary diesel engine powering cable
Operating speed14 mph
Highest elevation90 m (300 ft)
Route map

Canning Town
Royal Victoria
IFS Cloud Royal Docks Docklands Light Railway
West Silvertown
IFS Cloud Greenwich Peninsula Jubilee Line
North Greenwich

The London cable car,[3] also known as the Dangleway and officially as the IFS Cloud Cable Car for sponsorship reasons,[4][5] is a cable car link across the River Thames in London, England. The line was built by Doppelmayr and the total cost was around £60 million. The service opened on 28 June 2012 and is operated by Transport for London (TfL). Since 20 October 2022, it has been sponsored by the technology firm IFS;[6] prior to this, from its opening the line was sponsored by the airline Emirates, and known as the Emirates Air Line[7][8][9][10] until 28 June 2022.[11]

The service comprises a 0.62-mile (1.00 km) gondola line that crosses the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Victoria Dock, to the west of ExCeL London.[12] In addition to transport across the river, the service advertises "a unique view of London".[13] Since 28 June 2024, FirstGroup has taken over the operations of the cable car line.[14]



Proposed Meridian Skyway


The idea for a cable car linking the Greenwich Peninsula with the north bank of the Thames first emerged during the development of the "car free" transport strategy for the Millennium Dome (now The O2) in the late 1990s. Presented to planning authorities in early 1997 by Meridian Cable Cars, this link would have run from the Dome site to the DLR's East India station in Tower Hamlets.[15]

The estimated cost of the cable car was £8–10 million, for 23 gondolas, each with seating for nine and standing room for a further six, that would have travelled at 5 mph (8.0 km/h) at between 50 and 80 metres (160 and 260 ft) in the air. Taking three minutes to make a one-way trip, it would have had a capacity of 2,500 passengers per hour each way.[16][17] Full planning permission was granted in December 1997 and July 1998 for the northern and southern sides respectively, the northern side permission being one of the last acts of the London Docklands Development Corporation.[15] An opening date of October 1999 was planned,[18] but because of negative reactions from the administrators of the Dome project, financial backers pulled out and the cable car project collapsed in October 1998.[17]

Proposed London Cable Car


On 4 July 2010, Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to develop a cable car crossing over the River Thames, which would be the first urban cable car in the United Kingdom. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Expedition Engineering and Buro Happold, it would cross the river at a height up to 90 metres (300 ft), higher than the nearby O2 Arena. The cable car would provide a crossing every 15 seconds, with a maximum capacity of 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, about 50 busloads.[19] Bicycles could be carried, and passengers would be able to pay for their journeys with pay-as-you-go Oyster cards.[20]

A planning application was submitted to the London Borough of Newham, using the name London Cable Car, in October 2010 for the "erection of a cable car for the length of 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) over the River Thames from North Greenwich Peninsula to Royal Victoria Dock at a minimum clearance of 54.1 metres (177 ft) above mean high water springs".[21] The application listed the structures planned for the service on the north side of the Thames as an 87-metre (285 ft) north main tower at Clyde Wharf, a 66-metre (217 ft) north intermediate tower south of the Docklands Light Railway tracks roughly midway between Canning Town and West Silvertown stations, a two-storey gondola station and "boat impact protection" in Royal Victoria Dock.[21] South of the river there is a 60-metre (200 ft) main support tower and a boarding station within the O2 Arena car park.

When the project was announced, TfL's initial budget was £25 million; they announced this would be entirely funded by private finance.[20] This figure was first revised to £45 million,[22] and by September 2011 had more than doubled to £60 million, reportedly because TfL had not included the costs of legal advice, project management, land acquisition and other costs.[22] TfL planned to make up the shortfall by paying for the project out of the London Rail budget, applying for funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and seeking commercial sponsorship.[22] €9.7m of ERDF support, out of an estimated €65.56m total budget, was agreed on 9 July 2012.[23]

In January 2011, News International was planning to sponsor the project, but withdrew its offer.[24] In October 2011 it was announced that the Dubai-based airline Emirates would provide £36 million in a 10-year sponsorship deal which included branding of the cable car service with the airline's name.[7]


The north-eastern terminal under construction beside Royal Victoria Dock, February 2012

Construction began in August 2011 with Mace as the lead contractor.[25] Doppelmayr built the cable car for £45 million and Mace was to operate it for the first three years for a further £5.5 million. TfL stated that the initial construction funding and Emirates sponsorship would cover £36 million of the cost, with the rest to be funded from fares.[7] In 2011 it was the most expensive cable car system ever built.[12]

Two gondolas approaching the north intermediate tower

In May 2012, TfL said that the cable car would be running by the summer of 2012, and that while there were no plans to have it open before the 2012 Olympic Games, there would be plans in place in case it was opened in time.[9]


View from a car towards ExCeL
View from a car towards The O2

The public opening took place at noon on 28 June 2012, almost a month before the Opening Ceremony of the games.[10][26] TfL reported that the total cost of the project was about £60 million, of which £45 million went towards construction. It estimates that the service can carry 2,500 people per hour.[10]

The Emirates Air Line route was added to the London Tube map in June 2012. It was the first to have the sponsoring company's logo shown on the map. Similar to the representation of the Docklands Light Railway, the cable car route was displayed as a triple red stripe rather than a solid line, to distinguish it from London Underground lines.[27]

The service's logo was a red cartouche containing the Emirates logo and the TfL roundel, to reflect the corporate sponsorship by the airline. As with the marketing of the London Eye, the transit of the cable car is referred to as a "flight"[28] and marketing literature borrows language from the airline industry, such as referring to tickets as "boarding passes".[29]

Expiry of Emirates branding


The deal with TfL for Emirates Air Line branding, bringing in £3.6m a year, expired on 28 June 2022.[3][30] However, no sponsor had been found for the cable car at the end of the contract, even at less than a quarter of the price.[31]

It was reported that a senior TfL executive had joked that a storm, which hit London in February 2022, had been their "last hope" for discontinuing the service without loss of face.[32]

New sponsor


In September 2022 it was announced that the technology company IFS AB would be the new sponsor beginning in October, and that the line would be renamed the IFS Cloud Cable Car. The initial sponsorship deal lasts five years, with a break after two years, and will cost £420,000 per year.[33][34] The sponsorship deal also allows TfL to temporarily rebrand the cable car with other commercial sponsors, such as Pokémon in August 2022.[35] TfL did note that the cable car "makes a profit", despite the substantial reduction in sponsorship income.[34]


Woman boarding passenger gondola at Royal Victoria

The cable car is based on monocable detachable gondola (MDG) technology, a system which uses a single cable for both propulsion and support, used also on the Metrocable in Medellín, Colombia. The MDG system was reportedly cheaper and quicker to install than a more complex three-cable system which would have allowed larger-capacity cars.[12]

There are 36 passenger gondolas, of which 34 are in use at any one time, with a maximum capacity of 10 passengers each.[36] All passenger gondolas are ready for disabled persons using wheelchairs, including those ones with leg rest extensions. There are also two (open) engineers' gondolas for use by maintenance staff.[citation needed]

The line has been operated by its builders, Mace, since it opened in 2012. However on 28 June 2024, First Group will take over the operation, with an initial five-year contract and the option to extend it for a further three years.[37]

In 2020 running hours were 07:00–22:00 from Monday to Thursday, 07:00–23:00 Friday, 08:00–23:00 Saturday, 09:00–22:00 Sunday from 1 April to 30 September, finishing an hour earlier from Sunday to Thursday the rest of the year.[38] The duration of a single crossing is ten minutes (reduced to five minutes in rush hour as the service speed is increased).[39] With a capacity of 4,080 passengers an hour, 62,000 per day and up to 500,000 people a week in summer.[citation needed]



From 1 March 2022 the adult pay-as-you-go fare increased to £6, with the child fare 50% of the adult fare.[40]

In 2020 the fares were £4.50 for a single journey, or £3.50 when paid with a pay-as-you-go Oyster card,[38] or on presentation of a valid non-PAYG Oyster or Travelcard (the cable car is not fully integrated into Transport for London's ticketing system).[29] To encourage use of the service for commuting, further discounts are offered with a multi-journey ticket which allows ten journeys within a twelve-month period.[41] The London Assembly and the Liberal Democrats have called for full fare integration.[42][43] The £1 discount for Oyster and Travelcard holders was removed in March 2023.[44]

Single fare Multi-journey
Adult £6.00 £1.70 (£17.00/10 trips)
Child £3.00



IFS Cloud Royal Docks


The eastern end of the cable car line (51°30′28″N 0°01′04″E / 51.5077°N 0.0179°E / 51.5077; 0.0179 (Emirates Air Line (Royal Docks terminus))) is at the Royal Docks, home to the ExCeL exhibition centre and the new London City Hall. The closest interchange to the Docklands Light Railway is at Royal Victoria station, with an out-of-station interchange distance of approximately 200 metres (660 ft).

IFS Cloud Greenwich Peninsula

The station, then branded Emirates Greenwich Peninsula, at night

The western end of the cable car line (51°29′59″N 0°00′30″E / 51.4998°N 0.0083°E / 51.4998; 0.0083 (Emirates Air Line (Greenwich terminus))) is within walking distance of The O2. The closest interchange with the London Underground is at North Greenwich. The nearest London River Services is at North Greenwich Pier and local London Buses services at North Greenwich bus station.



In the second week of October 2012 about 42,500 journeys were made. Journeys made fell to 23,000 for the same week in 2013.[45]

In November 2012, after the Olympics, passenger numbers dropped to less than 10% of capacity. Fewer than 0.01% of journeys were made on discounted commuter fares which were 10 for £16.[42]

As of 9 February 2013 there had been 1,815,212 passenger journeys since opening. The average passenger journeys for the period between 16 September 2012 and 9 February 2013 has been a mean of 31,601 a week and a median of 30,667. The highest usage during that period was an outlier of 70,704 for the week ending 3 November 2012, and the lowest usage was 14,755 for the week ending 2 February 2013. In November 2013, it was reported that there were only four Oyster card users qualifying for a discount available to people making more than five journeys a week during one week in October.[45][46][47] In the previous year, in the same week the number of card users was making regular journeys was 16. Boris Johnson had claimed Londoners would continue flocking to it (the cable car service).[48] From 29 August 2015 to 20 August 2016, an average of 28,400 weekly journeys were made, with a standard deviation of 11,000; the figures for the year to 8 February 2020 were average 23,961, SD 9,790. More journeys were made in the warmer months.[49]

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cable car offered free travel to key workers who needed to reach the Nightingale hospital at ExCeL London; the hospital was later found unnecessary, and mothballed.[32]



Critics of the cable car have dismissed it as an impractical transport solution, which will appeal to tourists at peak times but is unlikely to attract a large number of cross-river locals or commuters due to its location and the cost of tickets.[50][51] It was similarly labelled a 'white elephant'.[52] There has also been criticism of the project's £24 million-plus cost to taxpayers, caused by a budget overrun. Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London, had said the cost of the scheme would not be underwritten by taxpayers.

The cable car's location has also caused controversy, with advocates of walking and cycling favouring a Sustrans-sponsored plan for a walking and cycling bridge east of Tower Bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.[53]

The scheme was also criticised because the original sponsorship contract forbade the use of funds from Israel, which the UAE did not recognise diplomatically at that time. It imposed restrictions on "(i) any Competitor; or (ii) any person who is a national of, or who is registered, incorporated, established or whose principal place of business is in a country with which the United Arab Emirates does not at the date of this Contract or at any relevant point during the Term maintain diplomatic relations."[54] The contract also forbade the mayor or Transport for London from criticising the governments or royal families of the United Arab Emirates, or the contract.[55] The clause regarding Israel was later removed.[56]

See also



  1. ^ Transport for London. "Emirates Air Line performance data". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  2. ^ Booth, Robert (28 June 2012). "London cable car offers investor's-eye view of the Thames". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  3. ^ a b "London Cable Car - sponsorship opportunity". TfL. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  4. ^ "Take the Drain, the Misery Line, then the Viking Line". Londonist. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  5. ^ Heathcote, Edwin (5 April 2019). "Planting the Tulip turns London into a theme park". Financial Times.
  6. ^ "New sponsor for the London Cable Car announced". tfl.gov.uk. TfL. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Emirates sponsors Thames cable car". BBC News. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Thames cable car linking O2 arena and Excel approved". BBC News. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  9. ^ a b "London's new cable car tested ahead of summer opening". BBC News. 15 May 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Thames cable car opens for passengers". BBC News. 28 June 2012.
  11. ^ Mortimer, Josiah (6 June 2022). "Emirates Air Line cable car to get a major makeover after London river crossing sponsor drops out". myLondon. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  12. ^ a b c Dale, Steven (26 September 2011). "Exploring the Thames Cable Car Costs". The Gondola Project. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Local attractions". www.emiratesairline.co.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Award of London Cable Car contract". IDX. Retrieved 3 April 2024.
  15. ^ a b "House of Commons - Culture, Media and Sport - Third Report". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Fly me to the Dome". BBC News. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Sky Pod Plan". Eeyore's Place. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  18. ^ "House of Commons - Culture, Media and Sport - Minutes of Evidence". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Plans unveiled for a new Thames crossing with London's first cable car system". Transport for London. 4 July 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  20. ^ a b Jones, Sam (4 July 2010). "Thames cable car plan to link Olympic venues in time for 2012 games". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  21. ^ a b "Planning Application Details (10/02311/FUL)". London Borough of Newham. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  22. ^ a b c Edwards, Tom (23 September 2011). "Thames cable car costs rise again to £60m". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  23. ^ "Commissioner Johannes Hahn - Major projects". Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  24. ^ Leigh, David; Hill, Dave (2 May 2012). "News International's offers to Boris Johnson revealed in Leveson evidence". The Guardian. London.
  25. ^ "Thames cable car could be on course for Olympics". Wharf.co.uk. 10 August 2011. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  26. ^ "Emirates Air Line". Emirates Air Line. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Maps". TfL website. Transport for London. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  28. ^ EAL Web site: "Taking a quick flight down South? ..."
  29. ^ a b "Emirates Air Line FAQ". Emirates Air Line website. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  30. ^ Thicknesse, Edward (7 September 2021). "TfL seeks new partner for cable car with Emirates deal set to end". CityAM.
  31. ^ Topham, Gwyn (27 February 2022). "Boris Johnson's Emirates Air Line cable car fails to find new sponsor". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2022. Commercial teams at TfL last year sent invitations far and wide to find a sponsor successor to Emirates, hoping for less than a quarter of the £3.6m a year paid by the cash-rich Gulf airline over the last decade.
  32. ^ a b Topham, Gwyn (27 February 2022). "Boris Johnson's Emirates Air Line cable car fails to find new sponsor". The Observer. According to a well-placed source, senior TfL executives messaged last week: "Storm Eunice was our last hope." Unfortunately for TfL, while the high winds tore a hole in the nearby Millennium Dome, the cable car was left unscathed.
  33. ^ "New sponsor for the London Cable Car announced". Transport for London. 1 September 2022. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  34. ^ a b Lydall, Ross (20 October 2022). "Cloudbusting: London cable car gets new £2.1m sponsor and purple makeover". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  35. ^ Ford, Lily (17 August 2022). "Pikachus hit London hot spots for Europe's first Pokemon World Championships". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 October 2022. Pokemon teamed up with Transport for London to decorate the cable car cabins between Greenwich Peninsular and Royal Docks
  36. ^ "Emirates Air Line". Mace. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  37. ^ Mansfield, Ian (21 March 2024). "New operator for the London Cable Car". ianVisits. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  38. ^ a b "Tickets & Information". Emirates Airline. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  39. ^ "theo2 Web site: Emirates Air Line". Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  40. ^ "New fares". Transport for London. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  41. ^ mayorwatch: Freedom Pass & Travelcards will not be accepted on Cable Car, 18 June 2012
  42. ^ a b "Call to boost Thames cable car commuters". BBC News. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  43. ^ Hoscik, Martin (16 July 2012). "London Assembly calls for rethink on cable car fares". Mayorwatch.co.uk. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  44. ^ "Removal of the Oyster and contactless discount from cable car | London City Hall".
  45. ^ a b "Boris Johnson's 'pitiful' £60m cable car used by just four regular commuters". Evening Standard. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  46. ^ Saul, Heather (21 November 2013). "Boris Johnson's £60m cable cars used regularly by just four commuters". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  47. ^ Daniel Shane (22 November 2013). "$100m Emirates Air Line 'has just four regular users'". ArabianBusiness.com. Arabian Business Publishing. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  48. ^ "Four commuters used River Thames cable car, figures show". BBC News. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  49. ^ "Emirates Air Line passenger journeys". Transport For London. Retrieved 17 April 2019. Cumulative performance data, updated frequently, and links to customer satisfaction surveys. Figures given as of 8 February 2020 average to 23961 with SD of 9790 for the previous 52 weeks.
  50. ^ "FAQ". Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  51. ^ Topham, Gwyn; Van Steenbergen, Marishka (19 April 2012). "FAQ". The Guardian. London.
  52. ^ "The Emirates Air Line – London's £60m white elephant". The Guardian. London. 18 February 2013.
  53. ^ "ThamesBridgeFeasibilityStudy.pdf" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2012.
  54. ^ Hoscik, Martin (15 July 2013). "Cable car sponsorship deal includes anti-Israel clause". MayorWatch.
  55. ^ Crerar, Pippa (17 July 2013). "Boris Johnson tells TfL to rewrite 'anti-Israel' Emirates airline cable car contract". The Evening Standard.
  56. ^ Dysch Marcus (8 August 2013). "Cable car deal with Emirates airline amended". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 March 2015.