diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 01, 2011

London 2012  Olympic update
  Open for business?

While you were looking elsewhere yesterday, London 2012 released further details of the transport disruption the capital can expect next summer. A good day to bury bad news? Not entirely. For a start they'd promised to release this information in November, and there wasn't any more November left. And secondly, it's not all bad news. Just partly bad, with awful bits.

We're still at the "information for businesses" stage. The tone's changed a bit, from "watch out it's going to be dreadful" to "it won't be that bad so long as you plan ahead". TfL want companies large and small to start reorganising deliveries and wondering whether staff could modify their Olympic-time behaviour. Maybe they could work from home, maybe take extended leave, maybe get into work earlier and/or leave later to avoid the rush. And there really will be a rush, in certain places at certain times, which you'll absolutely want to avoid.

» If you want to see how roads will be affected, there are more details here.
» For considerably more tube-related information than we've seen before, look here.
» And if you want to get the full picture there's a 101-screen Powerpoint presentation here (don't worry, it's a pdf).

On the roads, the full extent of the Olympic Road Network has now been laid bare. Even the last batch of roads they'd been storing up to the end, all those details are now up for consultation. See the Games Lanes through central Stratford and up The Mall and under the Bow Roundabout, for example. TfL are keen to point out that there'll be only 30 miles of Games Lanes out of 9200 miles of London's road network, but then I guess Olympic VIPs were never likely to travel via, say, Appledore Crescent in Sidcup.

What's proper new is that a sequence of heatmaps has been launched for every day of the Games, plus several of the days on either side. Scary busy roads appear red, while Appledore Crescent and the outer suburbs appear white. Some parts of town, like the roads to Wimbledon or the Lea Valley White Water Centre, they'll only be congested on certain event days. Other parts, well, let's just say I don't think I'll be catching any buses outside my house next summer, it'll be quicker to walk.

And on the trains? Firstly they've published broad brush summaries for congestion on each tube line. The Central will see a high demand throughout the Games, while the Metropolitan will only occasionally be busier than usual when there are events at Wembley. As for the Jubilee, this line so perfectly links six separate Games venues that you might as well forget using the central section completely. Especially between 07:00-09:00 and 16:00-19:30, and from 22:00 until the last train.

But TfL can now tell us much more than that. Someone's been very busy with their spreadsheets, creating ½hr-by-½hr tables to show when the really busy bits are going to be at various stations. There are only 30 stations on the list so far, and nobody's willing to discuss weekends yet, but this does add considerable detail to what might or might not happen. Each station merits two coloured grids - one (worst case) if the public don't modify their behaviour and one (best case) if they do. The important data is all based on queueing times. No extra waiting, that's white, then up to 15 minutes yellow, up to 30 minutes orange, and over 30 minutes red. You really don't want to be waiting for a train for more than half an hour, so take heed.

Oxford Circus: Barely affected. If all goes to plan, there'll be four evenings when there might be a little bit of queueing between 6pm and 7pm. That's nothing.
Bond Street: One station up the line, nightmare. Queues of longer than half an hour every weekday evening between 5pm and 8pm, possibly restricted to 5:30-6:30 if the public behave. Blame the busy-ness of the interchange down below keeping regular commuters up above (ditto Green Park, but with a more diffuse congestion pattern).
King's Cross St Pancras: This'll be bad in the morning peak but rather smoother later in the day.
Canada Water: Very bad in the mornings, still fairly bad in the evenings (whereas at Canary Wharf, just evenings)
Greenwich: No matter what happens, Greenwich rail station will be a queueing hotspot on eight specific evenings related to eight specific events. This includes the whole of the evening on Monday 30th July, so just don't.
North Greenwich: Horrible unavoidable queueing almost every evening for a three hour period. The Greenwich peninsula's not the easiest place to escape from via any other means, but then aren't most nights at the O2 like that?
Embankment: Unexpectedly awful, courtesy of beach volleyball crowds, especially after 6:30pm. Use your head and walk to another nearby station instead.
Bank: Very very bad (whereas Monument won't be too bad at all).
Liverpool Street/Covent Garden/Tower Gateway: Not especially scary.
Stratford: You might expect Stratford to be chocker, given its proximity to the Olympic Park. But in fact there's only one hour (late evening on 9th August) when queues are predicted to be longer than half an hour. It sounds like rebuilding the station and adding new rail connections has paid huge dividends.
West Ham: Again, not as bad as you might expect, should you be mug enough to get off here and walk a mile to the Olympic Park.
London Bridge: This is the really awful one. This is the one TfL really want you to avoid. Five especially grim mornings, plus hellish queueing every single evening between 5:30 and 8:30. TfL would rather SouthEastern commuters stayed on to Cannon Street or Charing Cross, or walked across the Thames, or caught a bus, or had a nice drink and a meal on the South Bank instead of going home in the evening. Please?

This information is all for business planning purposes, remember. TfL won't be getting round to "communicating directly to Londoners" until some time early next year. There'll be "a campaign of information and advice via ads, posters, emails and a new website offering travel tips". I fear we might expect some seriously patronising behavioural modification posters, if the last ten-or-so slides on their Powerpoint presentation are anything to go by. But let's wait and see. And then, next summer, let's see how long we wait.

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