2012 transport plans on track, but huge risks remain

15 April 2011

Getting transport arrangements right remains one of the biggest risks to the smooth running of the 2012 Games.  Extensive preparations are underway, but organisers have an enormous challenge on their hands, a new report by the London Assembly Transport Committee says today.

The report – Clearing the hurdles – sets out what is known so far about transport plans, and identifies a number of concerns, particularly about the amount of extra transport capacity required, the Olympic Route Network (ORN), and the need for people to change their normal travel behaviour for the plans to work. 

In 2012, events from the Diamond Jubilee in June to the closure of the Olympic Park in September will result in what Transport for London (TfL) has called “around 100 continuous days of extraordinary operation”.

Organisers expect a total of 5.3 million people at the Games.  On the nine busiest days there will be around 550,000 to 650,000 tickets available to spectators for venues across London leading to more than a million Olympic-related journeys on public transport [1].

The report welcomes the completion of most of the promised infrastructure improvements - with the notable exception of the Jubilee line.  However, the network is currently operating near capacity, and the 22 anticipated 2012 “travel hotspots” include Tube stations that already suffer chronic overcrowding and some of London’s most congested roads[2].

Chair of the Transport Committee, Val Shawcross AM, said:

“In 2012 London is facing extreme demand placed on a network already creaking at the seams.  This is not just about spectators and visitors being able to get to and from events, Londoners will need to go about their everyday business too.

“We are reassured that what can be planned for is being planned for but there is no doubt transport conditions will be extreme in 2012.  It’s better to be safe than sorry and the more detailed plans are, the more likely London’s transport network will cope.”

The controversial Olympic Route Network (ORN) remains a concern.  Organisers have resisted calls to reduce the size of the Games family[3] who will use special ‘Games lanes’ that form part of the ORN, and a lack of awareness about changes and restrictions on the rest of the network may see Londoners fall victim to fines.

The Olympic Delivery Authority needs to “influence enough people, enough” for its transport plans to work.  However, the Committee considers the target of a third of Londoners[4] changing their travel behaviour to be very ambitious and has requested more details about how this will be realised.

Accessibility is also an issue.  There could be more than 23,000 spectators with reduced mobility trying to travel on the busiest days of the Games.  Yet only around a quarter of Tube stations and one-third of rail stations have step-free access from station to platform[5].  The Committee is supportive of TfL’s plans to make improvements, including installing “temporary”[6] ramps and platform humps at certain stations.

The Transport Committee will continue to monitor the delivery of 2012 transport plans in the year ahead.  It has asked TfL and the ODA to provide a progress report on the delivery of new transport infrastructure in September 2011 - with updates every three months thereafter - including details of how new infrastructure has been tested and contingency arrangements if it is not delivered as planned.

The report calls for the final edition of the Olympic Transport Plan to set out:

Demand forecasts

  • the full range of forecasts for the number of spectators (high, medium and low)
  • the forecast number of other visitors (people without tickets)
  • a breakdown of the forecast demand by day, mode and venue
  • how much of the forecast demand is expected to be covered by increased capacity through new transport infrastructure and how much by reducing usual demand

Travel demand management

  • the specific targets or measures of success for the 2012 travel demand management programme
  • its impact to date including how many businesses have so far indicated that they will be changing their transport requirements next summer and the steps being taken to reach small businesses; and
  • the further actions that will be taken to help manage demand from spectators and Londoners.

The Olympic Route Network (ORN)

  • an update on the likely impact of the ORN on all road users in London and the steps being taken to mitigate this impact.  It should state on what date the 51 pedestrian crossings which will be temporarily removed will be reinstated. The Plan should also address the concerns raised by London Councils and others about enforcement of the ORN.

Encouraging use of other modes

  • an update on the action being taken to encourage more walking and cycling and include more challenging targets.
  • an update on the work taking place to maximise the use of river services during the 2012 Games.

Accessibility

  • an update on the measures being taken to improve accessibility. This should include details of the plans for staffing the transport system during the summer of 2012 and the locations of temporary ramps and platform humps, and plans for transporting people with reduced mobility from main transport hubs to venues and within large venues such as the Olympic Park.

The Committee will review the issues it has raised in this report after the final edition of the Olympic Transport Plan is published in the spring.   

Notes to editors:

  1. Friday 3 August and Saturday 4 August (days 7 and 8 of the Olympic Games) are forecast to be the busiest days.  See table of total arrivals at Olympic venues each day during the Games on page 19 of the report.
  2. For example, King’s Cross and Victoria stations, where travel demand measures are already needed nearly every day to control overcrowding; the Embankment and the southern approach to the Blackwall Tunnel – already London’s busiest junction.  See pp 19-22 of the report for more details.
  3. Some organisations such as London Councils have in the past called for a reduction in the size of the Games family to the limit the extent of the ORN.  See the Transcript of Transport Committee meeting on 3 November 2010.  However, the Assembly has also heard from LOCOG that the ORN is necessary for a properly functioning 2012 Games.  See the Transcript of Assembly plenary meeting on 8 December 2010.
  4. A 20 per cent reduction is being sought in addition to the usual 10 per cent reduction in traffic in London during August.
  5. See the Transport Committee’s November 2010 report, Accessibility of the transport network.
  6. TfL is exploring the creation of “temporary” ramps and platform humps on certain parts of the Tube network by 2012.  TfL has stressed that, in this instance, “temporary” could mean for up to 20 years and these ramps and humps would not be removed after the 2012 Games.
  7. The report will be considered for formal agreement at the Committee’s meeting on 17 May 2011.
  8. Val Shawcross AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, is available for interview.  See contact details below.
  9. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Dana Gavin in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4603/4283.  For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.