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London Cable Car - Emirates Air Line

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Emirates Air Line
London Cable Car - Emirates Air Line

London Cable Car - Emirates Air Line

© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

It's going to be hard to remember that this is technically public transport, but the Emirates Air Line (to use the official name) is a transport link over the River Thames, connecting The O2, Europe's largest entertainment center in Greenwich, with ExCel in the Royal Docks, Europe's largest conferencing center.

It opened in June 2012 and is considered part of the legacy for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Dubai-based airline are sponsoring the cable car so it will have their name for at least the first ten years. Their presence is hard to miss as a journey is called a flight, a ticket is called a boarding pass, and staff are dressed as flight attendants. Let alone all the advertising at nearby stations (North Greenwich tube station had no other advertising but Emirates when the cable car opened.)

How To Find It
The Emirates Greenwich Peninsula terminal is near North Greenwich tube station and The O2. Come out of the station on the same side as The O2 and turn right and you'll see it.

The Emirates Royal Docks terminal is on the northern side of Victoria Dock, close to Royal Victoria DLR station and a short walk from ExCeL.

Fares and Views
This isn't central London, and it isn't The London Eye, so the fare is much cheaper and the views are very different. You won't see the Houses of Parliament but you will see London City Airport, The O2 and Canary Wharf. (Do wave at the climbers at Up at The O2.) With a clear day, maybe some binoculars or a good zoom lens, you can also see the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier and the City of London (the 'gherkin' is probably the easiest building to spot).

I couldn't see Historic Royal Greenwich (the area with the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory) but there is a free "inflight map" to help you find it. The map also points out The Shard, St Paul's Cathedral and Wembley Stadium but seriously, good luck seeing that kind of distance.

As with all London public transport, fares are cheaper with an Oyster card and under fives travel for free. You can check the latest rates on the official website. A return/round trip is simply double the single fare, and it's OK to do a non-stopping trip, unless you want to explore the Royal Docks and then return later.

The 'Flight'
Just like on the London Eye, the cable car doesn't stop so you have to board a moving car. During peak hours (the morning and evening rush hours for commuters) the journey time will be 5 minutes but in the middle of the day, or in the evening, it could be up to 10 minutes to allow passengers to enjoy the views. The journey is 1.1km (0.68 miles) and is 90 meters above The Thames at the highest point.

Each car can hold up to ten people - all seated as standing is not allowed. There is seating along two sides only. Ten would make for a rather cramped ride so it would be better to aim for six people at the most to be able to not be squashed. Each car can also fit two wheelchairs or two bicycles as this is fully accessible transport.

The flight is smooth and quiet, and generally only accompanied by the clicking of cameras as everyone wants photos of the sights. There's a slight bump as the car goes over the mechanism, especially when coming into a terminal, but it's nothing to worry about.

Opening Hours
These hours could change and will be extended when evening events are happening at The O2 or ExCel.

  • Weekdays: 7am to 9pm
  • Saturdays: 8am to 9pm
  • Sundays: 9am to 9pm

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