LONDON'S TRANSPORT system is up to the challenge of dealing with more than 500,000 spectators for a 2102 Olympic Games in the city, a packed ICE transport meeting has heard.
Transport minister Tony McNulty led the plaudits for a much maligned transport system, which had previously been reported as a weak point in London's bid and inferior to the transport networks of Paris and Madrid.
'London's transport system is a realistic and very robust part of the bid, ' McNulty told a recent meeting of over 200 at the ICE.
'The critics haven't looked at the timing of the games. During the summer months the demand on the transport system drops by 20%.' To back his claims, McNulty pointed to a £10bn projected spend on London's transport in the next fi e years, including £3bn raised from bonds by Transport for London.
This would bolster a system that already provides 3M tube and 6M bus trips a day. And visitors to the Games would benefit from the Olympic Javelin train service from St Pancras station that would use the CTRL link to help convey many of the 500,000 spectators to the Olympic Park in Stratford in a seven minute journey.
The meeting, chaired by ICE past president professor Tony Ridley, who is advising the London Olympic bid team on transport links, also heard that people holding tickets for Olympic events would be able to travel free on London's public transport system.
And by 2012 London will have 50% more capacity on the Docklands Light Railway, 45% more capacity on the Jubilee Line, the East London Line Extension and a new road bridge near Greenwich.
Hugh Sumner, director of Olympic transport strategy at Transport for London, said that the likely demands on the transport system from visitors to London had already been tested.
'The Olympic route network has been modelled and tested.
We have proven to ourselves that the impact on London's transport network will be negligible. There are only two days when the transport system will be stretched.
'London is the world's best connected city. It has the capacity to move 12M people a day, ' he added.
Contributions from the floor heard that the International Olympic Committee's initial assessment of London's transport system as virtually obsolete in December 2003 was based on misleading information. For example, there was a 'total misunderstanding' of the Olympic Javelin concept.
The panel was also asked whether the fact that London's proposed Crossrail tunnel across London would not be completed by 2012 would weaken the bid.
McNulty replied that Crossrail was never a serious part of the bid.
McNulty batted away concerns expressed about the environmental impact of a London Games. 'Are you saying let's not have any more Olympics- If that's your view I'm not a party to it, ' he said.