Construction of a cable car across the River Thames is to begin this summer, Transport for London (TfL) has announced.
The £50.5M scheme will connect the Greenwich Peninsula and the 02 to the Royal Victoria Docks and the ExCeL.
A consortium to build and operate the cable car will be lead by Mace, whose past projects include the London Eye and who are currently constructing the Shard Tower in London.
Mark Reynolds, Deputy Chief Executive of Mace, described the cable car as an “awe-inspiring addition” to the company’s portfolio of work.
Cable car specialists, Dopplemayr, and Watson Steel, URS Scott Wilson, Buro Happold and Aedas are also in the consortium to build the cable car, which was designed by Wilkinson Eyre.
Up to 2,500 people per hour will be able to make the 1.1km, five-minute journey across the river in one of 34 gondola cabins.
The scheme’s cost was originally estimated to be as low as £25M when it was announced in July 2010 and TfL had said that it would not be paying to build the project.
The TfL has now confirmed it would now be providing “upfront funding for the cable car” and would seek to recoup its costs but could not guarantee that taxpayers would not foot at least some of the bill.
A spokesperson said the decision to pay upfront was “to aid the quick delivery” of the project, which TfL was “striving” to deliver in advance of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.
They said this remained “an extremely challenging timeline for a complex project” and could not provide a date by which they were confident the scheme would be completed.
The spokesperson said that the initial costing had been a “preliminary estimate” and that the £50.5m contract included operational running costs of £5.5m for up to three years.
They added: “The cable car will play a vital role in the once-in-a-lifetime regeneration of east London and provide a much needed additional river crossing in this area of the city.
“It remains the intention that TfL will seek to recoup as much of the cost as possible through a number of sources including advertising, sponsorship and fare revenue.”
Fares have not been set but TfL said that it would definitely be possible to pay for journeys using Oyster pay-as-you-go cards.