diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 24, 2011

London 2012  Olympic update
  Please stay away

Look, I don't want to worry you, but someone does. If you're planning on travelling around London during the Olympics, please try not to. The capital's going to be chock-full of visitors trying to use roads and trains and tubes and buses, so it would be terribly useful if you didn't. And yes, I know this isn't news, they've been saying this for ages. But what is news is that we're starting to get proper specifics about precisely how bad it's going to be when.
End of service
- During the Olympic Games, the Tube and DLR trains will run up to 90 minutes later than normal on all days, including Sundays. Last trains from central London will leave around 01:30.
- National Rail services from London will operate later than normal. Last trains for both suburban and inter-city destinations will leave London termini typically between 00:00 and 01:00.
Actually this doesn't sound at all bad, does it? Whether you're heading back after Volleyball at Earl's Court or returning home after your regular late night drinking session in Wood Green, TfL are running extra trains for you. It's only for a fortnight-plus, but bring it on.
Changes to key stations
London Bridge station will be very busy and should be avoided, including interchange, at peak times. These include 7–10am, 12noon–2pm, 4–7pm and 10pm–midnight. National Rail passengers heading into central London should use Cannon Street and Charing Cross instead.
This sounds less fun, though. For the duration of the Olympics, please don't use London Bridge station. Please go to one of two other stations, even if they're not anywhere near where you want to go, to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. Things should be fine between 10 and 12 in the morning, and mid afternoon, but don't you dare hang around past 4pm otherwise the hordes will descend and you may never escape. OK, I know I'm totally over-interpreting this, but TfL's advice appears either over-specific or over-simplistic (or both).
Bank station will be very busy. If you are not attending a Games event at ExCeL or Greenwich, this station should be avoided at peak times. There will be additional trains running to and from Tower Gateway on most afternoons and evenings to assist avoiding Bank.
Blimey. Sorry if you're a banker in the City, or a cleaner at the Guildhall, or needing to change lines to get somewhere. You're not wanted at Bank, stay away, because they'd rather the station was for the exclusive use of folk with Equestrian tickets or those off to watch the Taekwondo. Everybody else, bugger off. Obviously this attempt at frightening Joe Public will never work 100%, but if TfL can scare sufficient passengers away from Bank with tales of woe then transport gridlock can hopefully be avoided.
Friday 27 July – Opening Ceremony - Tube and DLR
The Tube and DLR services will run later on 27 July to enable spectators to get home. The last Underground trains will leave central London around 02:30. Be aware that services will be very busy later in the evening, so prepare to leave earlier if possible. People not planning to watch the Opening Ceremony in central London (eg, Live Sites) are advised to go home as early as possible.
Just read that last sentence of advice again. If you're not deliberately staying in town to watch the Flame-Lighting on some big Panasonic-sponsored screen, go home as early as you can. Forget any normal stuff you might do on a Friday like travelling to choir practice or going round your Nan's for tea, just get off the trains and leave them for the proper people. Again, I know, I'm over-interpreting, but TfL's official advice reads disturbingly like they're proposing a curfew.
Friday 3 August – First day of events at the Olympic Stadium
Friday 3 August will be twice as busy as previous days in the first week of the Olympic Games and is predicted to be the busiest day of the Games. In general, the second week of the Olympic Games will be much busier than the first. People are advised to work from home or take leave on Friday 3 August.
Here's a very specific recommendation - to keep out of the bloody way on Friday 3 August. Try to rearrange your lives to stay at home (maybe wash the car or something), or go and stay with your auntie in St Albans. Perhaps see if you can persuade your boss to close the office, or do videoconferencing, or just doss around at home on full pay. And no, I don't know anyone who's got a ticket for the Olympic Park on Friday 3 August either, but hundreds of thousands of people have, so LET THEM PASS.
Monday 13 August – Day after the Closing Ceremony
Paddington station will be busy due to Games Family departing for Heathrow Airport. Links to other airports are also likely to be busy so please check with the service operator prior to travel. This is expected to be the busiest day at Heathrow.
Let's not knock the forward-planning here. You really don't want to find yourself at Heathrow on 13 August surrounded by packs of VIPs with designer luggage, so this advice should help you avoid accidentally booking your summer holiday on that date. Likewise you don't want to book a work's conference for 27 July, or organise a hen party for 3 August. Forewarned is a crisis averted.

And this is just the tip of the Olympic travel iceberg. There's so much more to come, including (in November) a line-by-line breakdown of precisely which parts of the tube are likely to be overcrowded during the Games, divided up into 30 minute slots. Take pity on the poor Olympic transport planners attempting to make sure that our capital doesn't come to a grinding halt while the eyes of the world are upon us. But let's hope they find a slightly less patronising way of shepherding us around town when the mega-fortnight arrives. And when it is suddenly hell to get anywhere, don't say you weren't warned.

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