Going for Gold: Delivering Excellent Transport for London's 2012 Olympic Games (HC 588-i)
Transport Committee 19 October 2005
Evidence given by Mr Owen Whalley, Service Head, Major Project Development, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Mr Neil Bullen, Manager, Transport Planning, London Borough of Waltham Forest, Ms Jane Mandlik, Highways Manager West, Mr John Herman, Head of Regeneration & Infrastructure, London Borough of Newham, Mr Andrew Cunningham, Head of Streetscene, London Borough of Hackney, Mr Miles Butler, Director, Dorset County Council, and Mr Stephen Joseph, Deputy Chief Executive, Thames Gateway London Partnership. Mr Paul Plummer, Director of Planning and Regulation, and Ms Janet Goodland, Director of Network Development, Network Rail, Mr Rob Holden, Executive Chairman, London & Continental Railways Ltd, and Mr Theo Steel, Project Director - one Railway, and Mr Paul Smith, Director, London Support, Association of Train Operating Companies. Mr William Bee, Director for Wales, Ms Natalie Salmon, Head of Access to Services and Transport, Disability Rights Commission; Mr Neil Betteridge, Chairman, Mr Graham Lawson, Chairman of the Personal Mobility and Local Authority Working Group, Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee; Mr Brian Cook, Chairman, Mr Tony Shields, Member, London Transport Users Committee.
Chairman: Do any Members of Parliament have a declaration of interests to make?
Chairman: Are you a member of a trade union related to transport?
Mr. David Clelland: I am a member of Amicus.
Q8 Mr. David Clelland: I understand that there great opportunities to improve public transport in and around London and, looking at Dorset County Council's submission, even outside of London, which we would very much support. Do you think that the vast improvements in public transport can be delivered on time and will be sustainable after the Olympics?
Mr Herman: We are fairly comfortable that the major projects are long-standing projects which are well developed, have project plans and will be delivered on time.
Q9 Chairman: And? There must be an "and" on that sentence.
Mr Herman: One of the concerns we do have, of course, is that all this has to happen at the same time. As well as the Olympics we have got Stratford City being developed, we have got Crossrail potentially, we have got some local regeneration projects under way and we do have some concerns about the interaction of these and the effect of the construction traffic in that Lea Valley corridor.
Q10 Mr. David Clelland: I was going to come on to that about construction traffic, because that will be a huge problem, will it not? We have not yet got the transport infrastructure in place and yet we will have all this construction traffic, not only in terms of the transport infrastructure but also the building of the Olympic Village and everything that goes around it. This is going to cause huge problems for London, is it not?
Mr Herman: It certainly has the potential to do that and that is why the LDA are working with us to develop a code of construction practice which will, amongst other things, deal with construction traffic routing and we are talking with them about alternative water/rail access. At the moment in relation to the Olympics alone that does not look a very feasible option, but when you take the cumulative effect of all these projects, and if we can introduce, as Stephen has suggested, some novel arrangements about sharing resources between those projects, stockpiling of aggregates, for example, which all of the projects draw on, we think there might be some scope there and that is something we are discussing with the LDA.
Q11 Mr. David Clelland: So greater use of the river?
Mr Herman: Or rail.
Q15 Mr. David Clelland: What about the concerns expressed by Tower Hamlets Council about the use of tunnel-boring machines and the effect of dust, etc., on the environment as the Olympics are going on? Is that not a reason why Crossrail might have to be postponed?
Mr Whalley: Clearly there are concerns arising from the volume of spoil coming out of the portal of Pudding Mill Lane and, although the timetable for the Crossrail project is in the lap of Parliament in the sense in that the select committee will be meeting later this year to consider the hybrid bill, our view is that that is an issue that will need to be managed. Clearly the Olympic project must take precedence in terms of the impacts but again we are aware that the LDA are in discussion with the Crossrail project team to manage those very tensions so that the two projects can proceed simultaneously and the spoil issues and the environmental impact arising from the exploitation of the spoil can be managed.
Q34 Mr. David Clelland: The Olympics is not just about 2012, and of course we can talk about the planning as we get there, but there is also the whole question of pre-Olympic training and the setting up of training camps which would be in different parts of the country, so I come back to Dorset County Council. Mr Butler, I get the impression from your submission that you feel that there is too much concentration on London to the neglect of the rest of us. Is that right?
Mr Butler: I suppose it would be unfair to say there is too much concentration on London because clearly that is the main event, but I suspect the committee were a little surprised to get the submission from Dorset County Council on the London 2012 Olympics.
Q35 Chairman: We are very broad-minded. We have heard of Dorset.
Mr Butler: I am sure the committee will not need reminding that sailing - and it is sailing that is going to be held at Weymouth and Portland - is currently our most successful Olympic sport and in the history of it Britain is the most successful nation. Clearly there will be a huge amount of interest in the sailing at Weymouth, but poor old Weymouth, much like many coastal resorts all around Britain, suffers the characteristic that many do, because of their geography, of being at the end of a cul-de-sac. We therefore have a situation where we are attempting to hold a premier world event with wholly inadequate infrastructure. There are a number of key issues that we need to address over the next few years to ensure that not only are we ready for the Games but that we are also ready for the trial events and we are ready to host major pre-Olympic events that could be held in the period between now and 2012. One of the critical issues for us is that the main road into the town is wholly inadequate for purpose currently and, given the pressures that will come with the Olympics, we are very concerned about effective delivery. There are issues with the rail connection as well, which in part is single track and needs major investment in terms of both signalling and power. Those two issues combined give us a very difficult corridor down which to funnel both the officials and the competitors for the Olympics but also the spectators. The main issue, which is the highway issue, we have already been trying to address. There is a provisionally accepted scheme, a major scheme in our LTP, which the Department for Transport have provisionally accepted. We have submitted a planning application for that but we have no consent. There are clearly big issues in terms of compulsory purchase of the land and so on, and any urging that the Olympic Development Authority or indeed this committee and government generally can do to assist us in ensuring a smooth passage for that road, so much the better. The revenue issues are also very important to us because want to ensure that the modal split is correct for the Olympics. I notice that you have Network Rail appearing in front of you at a future date, and I would urge you to press them about Dorset issues as much as you press them about the London issues.
Q36 Mr. David Clelland: Do you think that the Olympic Development Authority and the London transport plans etc. are paying enough attention to the transport needs in terms of the needs of the Olympics between now and 2012 outside of London?
Mr Butler: I guess the jury is out, but to date the evidence is that we are little bit off the radar and clearly part of the reason for our submitting a memorandum to this committee was trying to get ourselves on to the radar as early as possible, and anything this committee can do to help us in that respect would be gratefully received.
Q66 Mr. David Clelland: Is the construction timetable running to time?
Mr Holden: Yes. We expect to open in 2007, which is the year we have been working to for some considerable time. As some members of the committee saw earlier this week, there is a great deal of activity complete in terms of a track down all the way between the junction with section one of the Fawkham junction through to the King's Cross lands. The last area to be complete is the refurbishment of the Barlow shed which is well under way.
Q67 Mr. David Clelland: You had a fire, did you not, in the Swanscombe, Kent, tunnel on 16 August? How much damage did that do? How much delay is that going to cause?
Mr Holden: We do not expect that will cause any delay at all. It is very regrettable that there were two fatalities involved in that incident, but fortunately there was very little damage to the railway and in fact it will not delay things at all.
Q68 Mr. David Clelland: So The Times got it wrong when they said it would delay the opening by between six and 18 months?
Mr Holden: I am afraid I do not know where The Times got that from.
Q97 Clive Efford: I am probably going to get a similar answer but would not the Oyster card simplify matters in terms of integrated transport across London?
Mr Steel: We would hope to have moved along before 2012 on getting the Oyster card more widely available on the railway.
Mr. David Clelland: The Chairman mentioned the Olympic Javelin. What contribution is that going to make in moving people from central London to the Olympic site?
Q98 Chairman: We need to know how robust your figures are.
Mr Steel: They are not my figures. They were quoted in the DPTAC evidence.
Q99 Chairman: The candidature file we are talking about suggests 25,000 people an hour and apparently you say the capacity would be 14,000 seats an hour.
Mr Holden: It effectively arises from eight paths per hour of 12 carriage trains. I believe the normal domestic train on the CTRL will ordinarily be six carriages but, for the purposes of the Olympic Games and the Javelin services, they will be joined to form 12 carriage trains.
Q100 Mr. David Clelland: So eight per hour running at the same time as Eurostar and IKF services?
Mr Holden: Yes. The IKF services are suspended during the course of the Games. They will be run with the Eurostar services.
Q101 Chairman: You are saying that they would be double the size?
Mr Holden: Because the Integrated Kent Franchise service on CTRL is suspended during the course of the Games, the fleet of trains can be reconfigured such that they are running, in effect, double trains.
Q126 Mr. David Clelland: Presumably they would have to pay for the DLR or will the travelator be free?
Mr Holden: The travelator is not necessarily free. One of the issues we would be having to address, if we were to provide a travelator, is who would maintain it.
Q127 Chairman: To the high level that we are used to?
Mr Holden: It is clearly a very serious issue because a travelator which is very long will require a lot of maintenance in order to keep it in a working condition.
Q128 Mr. David Clelland: If people are using the DLR extension, they would have to pay for that leg of the journey?
Mr Holden: I would expect so.
Q153 Mr. David Clelland: Can I ask if the train operating companies are prepared to cooperate in the scheme to take part in the integrated travel and admission tickets such as the Oyster card system?
Mr Steel: We are in very active discussions with the Department for Transport and TFL over Oyster cards. Two of us personally have spent a lot of time on that subject and we have had letters from the Minister encouraging us to find a way forward and to be involved.
Q154 Mr. David Clelland: You are confident you will find a way forward. What are the obstacles? What are the problems?
Mr Steel: Obviously London Underground is a closed system with gates. We have gates at our key stations and we have to make sure that we can protect the revenue. The revenue risk is quite an important element in this consideration.
Q155 Mr. David Clelland: What is the danger to the revenue?
Mr Steel: If people do not key in and key out with their Oyster card and if they do not have a gate to go through, then we have to make sure that the revenue is accounted for.
Q196 Mr. David Clelland: What is the experience of other countries that have run the Olympic Games in terms of disabled people and air traffic?
Mr Bee: I am not aware of the experiences of either Athens, Sidney or Atlanta at the recent Games. There were certainly no stories in the press that reached us of particular problems. Hopefully, it indicates that the airlines got their act together with regard to the transport of Paralympians. Whether potential visitors and spectators simply found the barriers such that they gave up trying obviously it is impossible to identify. That may be the greater source of the problem. Airlines are sufficiently savvy in terms of media relations to recognise that turning away Paralympians is a guaranteed front page for the tabloid press and they would not be so foolish to do so. In a Games in western Europe by 2012, we can expect to see a number of spectators travelling in and many of them wanting to come for relatively short periods of time. That will include proportions of disabled people who are increasingly used to taking advantage of low cost airlines and cheaper flights. Unless this matter is resolved, we will see the potential for serious problems in the 2012 Olympics.
Ms Salmon: It is important to stress that we have a disproportionate number of calls on our helpline that relate to aviation compared to other transport modes, particularly when you consider that aviation is not covered by the DDA. Although we might not know about what has happened at the Olympics, we certainly know that generally disabled people flying are phoning us up and complaining about the treatment they receive.
Q197 Mr. David Clelland: With regard to the comment made about the Irish Paralympic team, there does not appear to have been a problem like that in the previous Olympic Games.
Ms Salmon: Not that we know of.
Mr Lawson: I would suggest that a possible reason for that is that Sydney is not well known for being accessed by low cost airlines from Europe and the rest of the world. There is a big difference between Sydney and the Beijing Games and the London Games. London is very well connected by low cost airlines to most parts of Europe.
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.
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