SUCCESSFUL OLYMPICS DEPENDS ON STEP-CHANGE IN LONDON’S TRANSPORT
The Transport Committee’s report Going for Gold: Transport for London’s 2012 Olympic Games was published today. The Committee considered that a reasonable start to Olympic transport planning had been made. But concluded that a huge amount of work remained to be done before the capital’s transport infrastructure was fit for purpose. The Committee also urged a much more imaginative use of the capital’s waterways.
Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:
“Without good transport London’s 2012 Olympics will fail.
“10 million ticketed spectators are expected in the capital and other UK sites in 2012. Their experience on UK roads, railways and London Underground will make or mar their visit. The world’s spotlight will be on London in 2012. If London fails to provide excellent transport for the Games, there will be no hiding place and no excuse. The Government, Mayor of London, and the Olympic Delivery Authority must ensure that the transport infrastructure and services needed are in place, working and complete, and on time. There also needs to be the fullest co-operation between the public and private sectors.
Mrs Dunwoody continued:
“The point of our inquiry was to provide a ‘snapshot’ of Olympic transport planning at an early stage. While a large number of complex transport issues to be resolved, we have already detected a number of potential problems. For example:
“The plan for the transport by road of the athletes, officials and members of the International Olympic Committee relies on projected reductions in summer road traffic in London which were unpersuasive. Likely increases in road traffic around Stratford by 2012 may not have been taken into account. During our inquiry, the Committee heard how four times Olympic gold medal rower Matthew Pinsent nearly missed his event in Athens because he was caught up in road congestion. International Olympic Committee members, officials and athletes must get to Olympic venues on time.
“Capacity worries remain over the ‘Javelin’ rail train service which is planned to shuttle thousands of visitors to the Olympic Park at Stratford from the central London. We are also concerned about the capacity of the new Stratford International station to cope with the anticipated numbers of passengers. We need cast iron reassurances that these will be no dangerous platform overcrowding.
There are no firm, timetabled plans for integrated transport and event ticketing for spectators traveling by mainline rail. The needs of people with disabilities when planning transport infrastructure and services for the Olympic Games have not been considered properly so far. This is of particular importance as the Paralympic Games follows directly after the Olympic Games.
The river Thames is a magnificent asset for the Games. The Olympic transport planners must use it to maximum effect. With imagination and relatively modest investment the waterways adjacent to the Olympic site could also be used for the transportation of materials, and as leisure facilities for the future.
We are all aware of the extreme vulnerability of public transport in the UK following the bombs of July 7 2005. This is something the Committee has already reported on. Tough security must be in place to assure the safety of travelers to the Olympics. “
Mrs Dunwoody concluded:
“Our report asks hard questions about how planning for London’s Olympics will be implementated successfully.
Early signs are that the Government is taking a lead in adopting an imaginative approach to Olympic transport planning. For example, the decision- made after the Minster faced tough questioning by this Committee - to provide £63 million to complete the new Thameslink station is very good news. Thousands traveling to the main Olympic Park site in east London will use it on their journey. We expect the Government to keep to this approach, and for everyone involved in preparing for the Games to follow its lead.
This Committee is committed to following up progress on Olympic transport later in the period to 2012. It is essential for the reputation of London and the UK that the Olympic Games in London is a success. Most of the hard work remains. We do not underestimate the difficulties involved. Nevertheless, those responsible for delivering the Olympic transport project are on notice that this Committee will be relentless in pursuit of excellence in transport for the Games. Failure is not an option.”
Notes for editors
Note of the press notice details of Thameslink announcement (DfT press notice, 8 February 2006)
Note of London 2012 press notice announcing London’s winning bid (July 2005)
The Third Report of Session 2005-06 (Going for Gold: Transport for London’s 2012 Olympic Games, HC 588) can be accessed via the Committee homepage on the internet at 11.15am on Thursday 16 March 2006.
The Committee’s First Report of Session 2005-06 (UK Transport Security - preliminary report, HC 637) was published on 30 November 2005 and can be accessed on the Committee’s webpage.
If you would like a copy of any House of Commons publication, and did not submit oral or written evidence to the relevant inquiry, then you may purchase it from the Parliamentary Hotline tel 08700 600 5522 fax 08700 600 5533, from the Parliamentary Bookshop or access it via the Committee homepage on the Internet.
Press Notice 29/2005-06 16 March 2006
Dr John Patterson, Clerk of the Committee