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Thursday, 05 July 2012

Now that’s a commute!

London’s new cable-car system is a capital highlight, says Melonie Clarke – even if you do have vertigo

Written by Melonie Clarke

Tick, tock... the countdown to the Olympics has truly begun. And what better way to celebrate than with a trip over the city that will host them – in London's new state-of-the-art cable-car system.

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From 305ft up, on a bright summer's afternoon, the capital certainly looks magnificent. So magnificent, in fact, that I even forget my vertigo. The Emirates Air Line, which spans the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the ExCeL centre in the Royal Docks, took around £60m to build (making it the most expensive cable car ever built) but costs a mere £3.20 to ride. Indeed, London's only gondola lift is not just the best way to travel across the river, but to see the city's sights at the same time.

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Opened last week, cable cars depart every 15 seconds, and can 'fly' 2,500 passengers an hour over the 1km stretch. The journey takes just five minutes.

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Arriving on opening day, I have to wait just a few minutes before I am in my very own cabin. As the doors close, it feels ever-so-slightly like waiting for a roller coaster, but any nervousness soon gives way to the breathtaking views. The O2, Canary Wharf, the Thames Barrier, look truly stunning from the air.

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The cars glide effortlessly across the Thames. They barely wobble, even when the wind picks up. In fact, by the time we touch down on the other side, I'm wondering whether this might just be the best commute on Earth.

The Emirates Air Line is a short walk from North Greenwich station and is open from 7am to 9pm during the week, from 8am to 9pm on Saturdays and from 9am to 9pm on Sundays. Opening times are extended during events.



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