Ambitious plans to build a 50m high cable car system across the river is one step closer to realisation

The first stage of plans to build a cable car across the Thames has been given the go ahead by Newham Council.

The £25m project to connect the 02 arena in Newham and the ExCel exhibition centre in Greenwich aims to cut the journey time between the two Olympic venues down to five minutes, in time for the 2012 games.

The proposed system, which will stretch 1,100m cables 50 metres in the air between two towers on either side of the river, can transport up to 2,500 people an hour in each direction.

One of the towers would sit just south of the Queen Elizabeth II Pier and the sister tower will be based in the Royal Docks.

The Greenwich council planning committee will meet to discuss the proposal on January 27.

While cable car systems have proved successful in Barcelona, Hong Kong (above) and New York, London Mayor Boris Johnson has come under fire for pushing the London Development Agency to contribute £1.21m towards the project, despite reassurances in July last year that private companies would foot the bill.