After a handful of false starts, the steel cables for the east London cable car (or the Emirates Air Line as it’s been styled) were hung over the weekend.
The process, as documented by the nocturnal Ian Visits, saw the river briefly closed a number of times while the cables were carried by tug from the north to the south bank, then linked with cables that had already been strung from the towers to the stations. Throughout Sunday the cables were tensioned into place; they’ll be at their full height by Monday evening.
Work on the station at either end is also proceeding well, with some of the gondalas lined up, ready and waiting for their cross-river bow.
Despite recent delays, it’s quite possible that the thing will be ready ahead of the Olympics. A report in Engineering News-Record (subscription required) suggests that Transport for London are quietly hopeful it will open in late June. TfL themselves are being officially coy about the situation, but they’ll be hoping that it opens with a pre-Games burst of publicity rather than limping into action after the eyes of the world have shifted elsewhere.
Whether the attraction will ever recoup its cost is debatable; Ken Livingstone this weekend called it the most expensive cable car in history, and little more than half of its £60m cost is coming from Emirates’ bulging wallet — the rest is from TfL, partly out of the rail budget. Not a prudent move by any standard. And yet the thing is undoubtedly impressive, and unlike some other Olympic-year baubles (the Arcelor Mittal Orbit, say) seems to excite people. Whether it’ll retain its popularity and bring in the crowds on a cold, foggy morning in January remains to be seen.