NEWS / Milestone reached on River Thames cable car

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Mace has completed erection of all three towers and the installation of a 1.1km long stretch of steel cable across the River Thames for the UK’s first urban cable car.

Main construction works for the Emirates Air Line began in July 2011 with Mace providing design and build services alongside its specialist facilities management firm, Macro. On completion, the three main towers will allow 34 cabins to cross the river at heights of up to 90m between the two terminals.

The three towers were manufactured in Bolton and have been erected in sections via crane. Each tower has been topped with a Doppelmayr 'head' - named after specialist cable car contractor Doppelmayr - which allows the cabling to run across the tops of the structures. The cabling, made of twisted steel comprised of nearly 300 separate strands of steel and 50mm thick, stretches 1.1km across the river. It was pulled into place and tensioned using a 12t winch located on the platform of the south terminal. The cable has now been clamped and secured at each station and tensioned to gain a minimum clearance of 55m above the Thames.

The 34 cabins which will be used to transport passengers across the river will soon begin a testing process. This will involve hours of running the cables and cabins across the river before it is due to open for passenger service in summer 2012.

"The pull of the cable across the Thames has been a highly complex and intricate part of the construction of this landmark project,” said Mace project director Matt Randall. “We used boats to make the initial rope connection during the short night-time window when the tide was at its lowest, working with the Port of London Authority to keep the river way clear, and this was eventually replaced with the cable itself. Now the cable has been tensioned to the correct height, the next step will be to commence the testing of the whole system."

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