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Sumner Timetable

This week, the Olympic Delivery Authority released its transport plan. ODA transport director Hugh Sumner tells John McKenna of his plans for London's biggest peacetime logistical exercise.

Numbers. Hugh Sumner has numbers on his mind. Dates, statistics and costs tumble out of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) transport director's mouth as he describes the task ahead of him.

By Christmas Day 2010 his team will have delivered £500M of transport works funded by the ODA and overseen delivery of an additional £5bn of transport improvements by Transport for London that are directly linked to the Games.

This excludes schemes such as the £1bn East London Line and £14bn of transport schemes around the country which will help ensure London 2012's predicted 10M spectators arrive at and leave venues on time.

"We have to worry about and manage all the elements of transportation," says Sumner, describing the role of his 30-strong ODA transport team.

"The key point to recognise is that we're putting in new infrastructure early. Our objective is to complete almost all the infrastructure by 2009.

The last bits of infrastructure are the improvements to Stratford regional station in 2010.

"What that means is you've got a clear 18 months run-in to the games, where you can run your transportation system, give that benefit to Londoners and the UK and you can de-risk the project."

Sumner says it is important to achieve this early finish to minimise the impact of cost escalation that can occur when rushing to a finish a scheme for an immovable deadline. He wants to avoid situations like that in Athens before the 2004 Games where a tram system was put in to service just two weeks before the event, and that in Beijing, where five new rail lines are being commissioned between now and next summer's Olympics.

The ODA's £500M transport budget is split between contributions to existing schemes, such as the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) upgrade, and individual projects such as the Stratford Regional station capacity increase. The ODA is contributing £85M to the DLR upgrade which includes an extension of the DLR from its existing Stratford terminus to Stratford international, enabling three car capacity for the Woolwich extension and additional trains across the network. Meanwhile Stratford regional railway station will see its capacity trebled with platform extensions, new lifts and new escalators.

All of the improvements, combined with the predicted 20% to 30% drop in commuters during Games time, will hopefully ensure the ODA achieves its target to get all 10M spectators to the Games venues by public transport, says Sumner.

"The scale of the upgrades is very, very significant indeed," he says. "There will be 50% more capacity on the DLR, another 25% capacity running on the Jubilee Line, a doubling of the capacity on the great eastern lines and Lea Valley lines coming through Stratford, and a trebling of the capacity of the North London Line."

Even though most of the transport upgrades are taking place in London with much of it centred on Stratford, Sumner is keen to stress the national role that he and his team has.


"We have to worry about moving 10M spectators and 50,000 Olympic family members. We have to worry about all competition and non-competition venues across the UK."

"One of the great things about this job is that you've got to worry about everything: we worry about walking, cycle, water, tube, DLR, mainline rail, road, everything."

This includes a rescheduling of the entire national rail network during those four weeks in 2012, working with the Crossrail team to ensure their construction programme fits with the Olympic transport plan, and the creation of an Olympic road network.

The Olympic Route Network, as the road network is named in this week's transport plan, will comprise a series of roads linking all competition and non-competition venues, including the sailing venue at Weymouth, the canoeing venue at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire and the mountain biking venue in Essex.

The Highways Agency has assured Sumner that major trunk roads will be at full capacity during the Games, with all roadworks put on hold.
Inside the capital, traffic management software designed specifically for the Olympics will be uploaded at London's traffic control centre to improve traffic flow in favour of athletes and International Olympic Committee members.

Some sections of routes will even use selective vehicle detection at traffic lights, turning them green as Olympic vehicles approach. The system is currently used for emergency vehicles.

There will also be a number of Olympic lanes, like bus lanes, that are reserved for the use of Olympic vehicles. Sumner is confident these lanes will not be abused by the public.

"Generally past host cities' experience is that people do not violate Olympic lanes because they realise its important to allow the athletes to compete effectively," says Sumner.

"The last thing you or I would wish to do is prevent one of our athletes from having a chance of winning a Gold medal."

Sumner's Numbers

10M
Spectators expected to use one of the transport services to reach the games

50,000
Number of relatives, officials and trainers in the Olympic Family

£500M
The amount of money the ODA is investing in transport

£14bn
Total transport investment to 2012

2010
When the final transport investment will be complete

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