Thursday, 28 July 2011

365 days until London hosts .... more planned engineering work on the tube

The 2012 Olympics are exactly a year away today and the Olympic Committee are all smiles and sunshine. 

London's archaic transport system, meanwhile, is still creaking and groaning under the pressure of normal, peak-time commutes.  How will this city ever cope with the extra traffic of thousands of tourists, press, athletes and sponsors?

The answer to our capacity issues it seems lies in planned engineering works, weekend improvement work being carried out on the tube over the past five or six years (and ongoing...) which will strengthen this glorious capital city and provide a more reliable service to its over-charged commuters.  Or so we were told.... 

Planned engineering works (which, it transpires do not even have to be planned: planned works were once declared on the Hammersmith line when an engineering problem was detected on a Monday morning which they could not fix before opening for service)  have long been the bane of every suburban Londoner's social calendar.  And now those critical infrastructure-boosting engineering works will be put on hold for four weeks during the Olympics. Wait, hold on.  Wasn't this all being done for the Olympics?  

The annoying thing about planned engineering work is that it gets Transport for London out of their obligations under the Customer Charter which requires them to refund tickets for journeys delayed by more than 15 minutes.   TFL used to have to provide costly, dedicated replacement bus services for customers affected by tube route closures but those have themselves been replaced by posters telling you which alternative existing bus routes you can take - and advising you to leave an extra 45mins for your journey. Closing down half the tube at weekends also conveniently prevents TFL from having to pay tube drivers overtime.  Call me a cynic but I'm starting to wonder what motivates TFL to provide a service at weekends at all.   

I'm not just grumpy because I've got no tickets to see the Olympics.  I am grumpy because my Council Tax went up in 2009 to fund the Olympics; I foot a huge bill for a dire London transport service; I won't get to drive in traffic lanes, now designated for Olympic officials, which my taxes paid for; and I STILL didn't get priority for tickets!

I'm not saying I should be asked to carry the Olympic torch for my suffering.  I just want the disturbance to normal Londoners to be recognised;  it is not all happy, clappy Olympics, you know! Let's not forget that July 7th, the day London was announced to have won the Olympics back in 2006 was also the day of the first successful Al Qaeda attack in England.  I am not exactly thrilled at the idea of an increased terrorist risk on my doorstep even if the value of my flat will go up thanks to its proximity to the Olympic stadium.  

I bet by now you're wondering why I should even care? By 2012 I'll be hiding out in DC, right? Well  I suppose that deep down I just really, really hope that London will get its act together in time to ensure that the 2012 Games do not become a tourist trap at the expense of those of you who have lived and worked here, and have actually paid for the Olympics.  


  1. I'm sure the Olympics will be worth it when it happens! Well, I hope so, anyway. I heard that Paul MacCartney with be opening it and they're uses the Clash for the theme song? Should be fun. People will be able to listen to the music whilst they're cramped together in stationary tube trains. ;-)

  2. Ha! Only yesterday Department for Transport was forced to confess its secret desire for Londoner's to take vacation during the Olympics and stop doing selfish things like commute to work alongside the "800,000 spectators and 55,000 competitors, officials, staff and media"

    Yes Paul Mac and the Clash will be cool - though as cool as Bryan May playing guitar on top of Buckingham Palace? I'll be quite happy to watch the spectacle all unfold on TV in another time zone!


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