Londoners warned on 2012 Olympics travel disruption
09:29 01 June 2011
Londoners may need to rethink their journey plans during next summer’s Olympics, transport secretary Philip Hammond has warned.
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He said he could not promise there would be no disruption to normal travel patterns during London 2012 in July and August.
Some people might consider working from home or changing travel times to avoid busy periods, Mr Hammond said.
He was speaking as the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) announced that work was completed on the Olympic “gateway” station at Stratford in east London.
He said the Stratford work would “minimise the disruption for those who are not attending the Games and are going about their everyday business during July and August next year”.
Mr Hammond went on: “Obviously, with hundreds and thousands of additional passengers in town, I can’t promise that there will be no disruption to normal travel patterns.
“And some people will need to think differently about how they travel, possibly working from home, shifting journey times or avoiding the capital at particularly busy times.
“But I can guarantee that the government, the (London) Mayor (Boris Johnson) and London 2012 are doing everything possible to get people to the Games, while ensuring the rest of the country keeps moving.”
Stratford station, which will handle close to half of all Olympic Park spectators to the nearby Olympic Park, has benefited from more than £125 million of upgrades and enhancements.
Capacity has been trebled to accommodate 120,000 people during peak hours in 2012 and other upgrades at the station including dual-side opening doors on the Tube’s Central line, new three-car trains on the Docklands Light Railways, and mainline rail service improvements.
The upgrades and improvement works mean that 10 different rail routes will serve Stratford station during and after the Games, making it one of the most connected parts of the capital.
The upgrades required for the Olympics form part of a £6.5 billion investment across the UK to increase capacity and bolster services, enabling 100 per cent of spectators to travel to the Games by public transport, walking or cycling.
ODA chief executive Dennis Hone said: “We have delivered a positive transport legacy for London a year before the Games.”
Mr Johnson said: “East London now has arguably some of the best transport connections in the world and they are here for all Londoners to take advantage of, a year ahead of the Games.”
Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said those travelling to the Games would have “a fantastic experience next summer”.
Speaking while travelling on a high-speed Javelin train from St Pancras station to Stratford International, Mr Hammond said: “We are working with employers to get them to change their working arrangements during the Games.
“Most of the major businesses at Canary Wharf (in London Docklands) have already signed up to flexible working patterns.”
He went on: “There will be big crowds at some stations and that’s going to be a challenge for us. But everything is manageable.
“Londoners are very resourceful and very knowledgeable about how the transport system works.”
Speaking at Stratford station after taking a Docklands Light Railway trip from Stratford International, Mr Johnson said the rail improvements would “regenerate this part of London”.
He revealed he had been unlucky in his bid for Olympic tickets but intended to try again when more tickets go on sale to those disappointed in the first ticket ballot.
Asked how many tickets he had originally applied for, Mr Johnson replied “pass”, but then added “quite a few”.
He said the threat of industrial action by transport workers during the Olympics was “slightly vanishing” and that it was “very, very unlikely” that staff would want to strike.
Saying that Londoners would have to cope with extra crowds during the Olympics, he said that it would be “business as unusual but it did not mean locals should think of leaving the capital during the Games.”
Mr Johnson said companies should think about bringing forward deliveries - of things like “frozen chips” - to avoid traffic congestion during the Olympics.