The Thames cable car will be the UK's first urban cable car, with a crossing every 30 seconds carrying up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction.
Construction is being led by Mace on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) with a team that includes Watson Steel, URS Scott Wilson, Buro Happold, Aedas and cable car specialist Dopplemayr. Designed is by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Mace will also operate the service for three years
Piling has begun on both sides of the Thames for the two station buildings for the cable car’s passengers.
Work to install the piles for the new north station in the Royal Victoria Dock is taking place from a barge rig moored in the dock and on the Greenwich Peninsula for the south station.
Work in the river is also progressing to probe for obstructions prior to the river piling.
The scheme will cut travel times between the O2 and ExCeL arenas to just five minutes.
The cable car is not a part of the Olympics Transport Plan so completion in time for the games is not required but with completion set for summer 2012, visitors to the Olympics may just get a chance to ride on it, if all goes well.
Howard Smith, one of TfL's chief operating officers, said: “TfL is proud that in such a short period of time we've been able to start main works for the cable car.
“This scheme offers a great opportunity not only to boost the number of river crossings in London but also promote the regeneration of this part of east London and to support tourism to the Capital.”
TfL has agreed to provide the upfront costs for the cable car but hopes to recoup its costs from a range of sources including the appointed commercial partner, fare revenue and advertising. As part of this process, TfL opened an Invitation to Tender for sponsors in June 2011. The tender closes next week (mid-July) and the winning partner is expected to be announced later this year.
A public exhibition providing further detail about the cable car opens at the New London Architecture centre in Store Street tomorrow (Friday 8 July).