Emirates sponsors Thames cable car

Artist's impression of the cable car scheme The cable car will carry up to 2,500 people an hour across the River Thames

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A private sponsor for a new Thames cable car river crossing has been announced in a 10-year deal worth £36m.

The cable car system is being sponsored by Dubai-based airline Emirates and will be known as the Emirates Air Line.

It will create a direct link between the 02 Arena in Greenwich and the ExCel exhibition centre, in east London.

The total cost of the scheme, to be completed in summer 2012, is £60m, with additional funding coming from third party funding and fare revenue.

Initially, Transport for London (TfL) estimated the cost for the project would be £25m and said it would use only private finance to pay for it.

But last month TfL pushed its forecast up to about £60m.

'Bird's eye vistas'

London Underground managing director Mike Brown said: "At £36m the sponsorship by Emirates covers a significant portion of the £45m construction value.

"This multi-million pound agreement is proof that our funding strategy is working and we are confident that the outstanding upfront construction costs can be recouped from a range of sources including an application to the European Union Regional Development Fund, additional sponsor agreements, retail space rental and fare revenue."

The cable car will run between two new stations, set to be named Emirates Greenwich Peninsula, in south London and Emirates Royal Docks, in north London.

The Mayor insists the London 2012 cable car deal with Emirates is good for capital

The service will be able to carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction at peak times.

It is anticipated that it will carry two million passengers a year.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Mike Tuffrey said: "TfL admits that this sponsorship deal only meets 80% of the construction cost.

"At a time when fares are set to rise by well over the rate of inflation, people will be asking why the mayor has failed to live up to what he had promised and ensured the cable car was entirely self financing."

But London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "This multi-million pound deal is tremendous news for London, helping us to deliver a new addition to the city's skyline.

"The Emirates Air Line will be an exciting and innovative mode of transport easing travel for thousands and offering spectacular bird's eye vistas of our majestic Thames."

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