London Eye launches upgrade programme with removal of first capsule
26 Jun 2009
London, 24 May 2009
The London Eye today kicked off the first phase of the recently announced £12.5 million upgrade of the UK’s number one paid-for visitor attraction. Launching last night, the South Bank saw the removal of the first of the wheel’s 32 10 tonne capsules. It began the 183 mile journey to be upgraded in Worcester, travelling along the Thames on a schedule to accommodate the changing tides. The capsule was unpinned from the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and then lowered onto a floating pontoon positioned underneath the tourist attraction ready to start its travels.
Each of the capsules, removed one at a time, will be taken to Tilbury Docks in Essex where they will then be loaded onto a truck and transported for work in the Worcester workshop. Due to the size of the capsules, each must travel the last leg of the journey by road, accompanied by an escort. A non-operational capsule will take position on the London Eye until the final capsule is returned.
The programme of work will take place across the next three years; all to be completed in time for the London 2012 Olympics. In the biggest investment project since the attraction opened in 2000, the London Eye is being further improved to enhance the customer experience, increase environmental credentials and ‘future proof’ one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks for years to come.
Over the last two years there have been more than twenty companies involved with the design, planning, sub-projects, and logistics which demonstrates the complexity of the project and amount of planning required. The team of consultants, contractors and suppliers, which has been led by project managers Cyril Sweett were carefully selected based on their diverse experience and ability to deliver challenging projects, such as rides within Alton Towers, Euro Disney and Europa Park in Germany.
Now, more than ever, the team felt it important to support the British manufacturing industry and carefully select an engineering company within the UK. Whilst some components have been sourced from Germany, France and Malaysia, these companies all have subsidiary companies in the UK. The entire team is focussed on the key objectives of maintaining the full operation of the London Eye throughout the works, as well as completing in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
'Our city has an unrivalled range of unique attractions that draw people from across the world and the much loved London Eye is one of the most recognisable. This investment is fantastic news and underlines the commitment there is to ensuring the capital will be at its best and ready to welcome record numbers of visitors when we host the 2012 Games.'
Commenting David Sharpe, Divisional Director of London Midway attractions at Merlin Entertainments Group, owner of the London Eye, said:
‘It’s fantastic to now have this very exciting project underway following not just months, but years of very careful planning. Already we’ve seen some really dramatic work underway, with the removal of the first capsule last night and positioning of the replica capsule in its place. No doubt Londoners will be very intrigued to see capsules floating down the Thames again’
‘This project underlines Merlin's strategy of continuous investment in all its attractions, and the company's commitment to the UK leisure market. It is also a huge testament to the talent and industry we have here in Britain, with the large majority of companies working with us being local UK businesses. It’s very impressive to know that we have so much resource available and that we’re all working together to make this UK landmark even better.’
International construction and property consultancy, Cyril Sweett, commented:
‘Cyril Sweett is delighted to be involved in such a prestigious and high-profile project. Our expertise in managing technically complex projects has enabled us to design and implement a delivery solution that will ensure the London Eye achieves it's aspiration for this project.’