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Planes, trains and automobiles

In 2012 millions of visitors for the Olympics will put our transport network to the test. Will it cope? You bet, says the man in charge.

"The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are roughly 20 times the size of the football World Cup in terms of numbers of spectators. It is off the scale in comparison to anything a nation has to face in peacetime," says the ODA's director of transport Hugh Sumner.

Transport is naturally a key consideration for the Games, and recently won a gold star from Carphone Warehouse boss David Ross, assigned to the Games as watchdog by London mayor Boris Johnson. "It appears that good progress has been made in respect of transport and significant savings from the original budget have been made," said Ross. "At present the major schemes are on programme for delivery in time for the Games. The ODA needs to ensure that it continues to monitor the progress of these organisations in delivering the key facilities required for the Games."

Sumner, however, is taking nothing for granted. "You are talking 7.7M spectators, a similar number going to associated events, you are talking 15,000 athletes and 20,000 accredited media. London's transport network will drive this beast 24/7 for a whole summer. It's big."

To get the transportation system ready for day one of the games is not the way to work, says Sumner.

"We plan to slew the infrastructure so it is ready early. The transport will be in place by 2010, to de-risk and provide an early legacy," he says.

"All the work will be to achieve London 2012's four strategies: "One we will get the athletes to events on time. We will not fail them. They are there to compete, not commute," says Sumner.

"Two - to move spectators. We will use public transport, walking, cycling and water to get them to the place of spectating.

"Three - accessibility. These games will be accessible, whether you are a disabled spectator, a deaf person on the workforce, or a Paralympic competitor it does not matter. London 2012 will be a Games for everyone."

"Four - sustainability. The money we deploy will have legacy at the heart of it."

While it would be very convenient if all spectators came from in or around London, the Games is much larger than that. Careful planning is going into coordinating the delivery of a series of transport upgrades and improvements from the ODA, Transport for London and other partners.

"Preliminary travel forecasts show the majority of people are expected to travel on the day from in or around London even though tickets will be sold to people across the UK and overseas. There are also events being held outside London to consider - mountain biking, canoeing,
rowing, sailing and football."

So the Olympic transportation infrastructure is the national transport network, cranked up to work overtime while the Games is in full swing and then leave a legacy of greater capacity.

"We are now moving towards welding operators together. By August, we will have the first run of the delivery plan for our friends in the rail industry, developing service delivery plans together to run common networks." What Sumner is talking about is reliable interchanges between different networks so people can arrive and connect quickly to the next leg of their journey - be it tube, bus or heavy rail.

This sounds good in theory but people have been trying to achieve it for over a century. The London 2012 Games may be the catalyst that gets it done. There are excellent reasons for underpinning the Games with such a carefully planned network. "Basically, we want to think about how to get people from their home to the Games, using public transport. No one mode
can deliver all.

"When you order your ticket we will provide people information about how to get to the right venue on time using public transport."

The system will require highly efficient interchanges and clockwork-reliable services to provide a service of Swiss-like effectiveness. "It's a similar sort of concept - to link modes of transport to create an understanding to create a journey," Sumner says.

"One fundamental issue is you cannot make all London Underground stations accessible -
to upgrade a Victorian or Edwardian tube station is mind-bogglingly expensive," Sumner says.

Instead, three London stations Đ Green Park, Baker Street and Southfields - will be the muster points for those with mobility impairments. Accessible shuttle buses will then take spectators
to the venues.

Infrastructure: just a sample of what's happening

National
 Sumner says: "The West Coast Main Line is wrapping up,
Thameslink is gearing up, East London Line extensions are going hard. The Highways Agency is working on the highways upgrades we need to get the capacity we need."

Stratford regional station
 £100M upgrade, trebling capacity, with Network Rail.

Stratford International
 Station box was one of the first Olympic projects to complete.In and around Greater London
 Jubilee Line upgrade, Northern Line upgrade with TfL, East London Line extensions, work on the North London Line and Great Eastern Main Line with Network Rail.
 ODA is providing money to the DLR to co-fund the route from Canning Town to Stratford International with Skanska.
 Freight loop to take freight trains out of the way of passenger trains to Stratford and extra platform capacity at Stratford to allow 12-car trains to stop.
 Other schemes include DLR to Woolwich, opening soon.

Sumner's four goals:

1. To get the athletes to events on time. "We will not fail them. They are there to compete, not commute," says Sumner.

2. To move spectators. Using public transport, walking, cycling and water.

3. Accessibility. "These games will be accessible, whether you are a disabled spectator, a deaf person on the workforce or a Paralympic competitor."

4. Sustainability. "The money we deploy will have legacy at the heart."


On the line: testing the network
Spectator travelling from Manchester to see Brazil play Australia in beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade.

 Dep 10:15 - Arr 12:26
West Coast Main Line to London Euston
 Dep 12:40 - Arr 12:55
Victoria Line, Euston to Green Park
 Walk from Green Park to Horse Guards Parade. Arrive at venue with 30 minutes to spare

Able-bodied spectator travelling from Cardiff to Stratford to watch swimming heats

 Dep 06:30 - Arr 06:45
Bus from suburbs to Cardiff Central station
 Dep 06:55 - Arr 09:06
Great Western from Cardiff to London Paddington
 Dep 09:20 - Arr 09:35
Circle line to King's Cross St Pancras
 Walk to St Pancras station
 Dep 10:00 - Arr 10:07
Javelin service to Stratford International
 Walk to event, which starts at 10:30


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