Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taking the Air Line

The Air Line.

London has a new transport option linking the north and south banks of the Thames. Not a bridge, but a cable car: sponsored (i.e. paid for) by Emirates Airlines, it is called - not without some confusion - the Emirates Air Line. It is said to be for tourists and commuters alike, but of course during the Olympic Games it was the tourists who dominated. Well, with 20-minute queues, what commuter is going to be interested?

Takin' the ride.

Moreover, it presently links the Greenwich Arena (the O2) to a bit of wasteland near the Excel exhibition centre, which was excellent for those attending the Games, but I'm not sure who is going to be regularly commuting between those two locations - but being London, you never know.

Looking down on the Greenwich Arena and Canary Wharf's high-rises.

That's the Thames Barrier out there.

Meanwhile, the queue was worth it for a tourist ride - there's certainly a great view from up there. Indeed you can see all the way to the Thames Barrier, an odd construction which until my Airline ride I had only heard rumour of, not seen. The Thames Barrier is intended to prevent London being flooded by exceptionally high tides - so far, so good. Here's what Wikipedia has to tell us about it:

The Thames Barrier is the world's second-largest movable flood barrier (after the Oosterscheldekering in the Netherlands) and is located downstream of central London, United Kingdom. Its purpose is to prevent London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the sea. It needs to be raised (closed) only during high tide; at ebb tide it can be lowered to release the water that backs up behind it. Its northern bank is in Silvertown in the London Borough of Newham and its southern bank is in the New Charlton area of Charlton in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The report of Sir Hermann Bondi into the North Sea flood of 1953 affecting parts of the Thames Estuary and parts of London was instrumental in the building of the barrier...
 All told, there have been 119 flood defence closures up to the closing on March 2, 2010.[8] Unusually, there has been over a two-year wait since the 119th flood defence closure - the longest interval since the gap between the first and second closures back in the early 1990s. The closest the Barrier has come to closing was on 27 November 2011, then the Closure Team was called out and started to close the gates, but was not fully closed since the surge subsided at the very last moment.
Interestingly, the barriers were closed on the day of the Queen's Jubilee river pageant, to slow down the tide on the Thames. Fascinating.

Getting up a little closer to the Thames Barrier.

A new transport link on the London Tube map.
The Thames from the Air Line.

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