Commons Gate

Going for Gold: Delivering Excellent Transport for London's 2012 Olympic Games (HC 588-iii)

Transport Committee 9 Nov 2005

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Evidence given by Mr Richard Caborn, a Member of the House, Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Ms Karen Buck, a Member of the House, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr Ben Stafford, Team Leader 2012 Olympics, Department for Transport.

Q338 Mr. Eric Martlew: I would not like to see the buses that were compliant taken off the normal routes to disadvantage my constituents and others just so that people going to the Olympics could view them. It is difficult but I understand the problem.

Ms Buck: I think it is entirely possible to look at what operational changes you can make in the system if you are looking at the use of particular types of vehicle. Of course it is possible to redeploy particular types of vehicles to serve those purposes. We would not necessarily be able to make structural changes in the physical infrastructure of every station, although clearly we aim to do that as far as possible.

Q339 Mr. Eric Martlew: On the question of skills, the reality and the evidence is that there is likely to be a demand for the skills for building the transport infrastructure. I am not sure that you are going to get them by just training people in the inner city. There are problems in inner London. I am not denying that there is high unemployment. Is not the reality that you are almost going to have to build an Olympic village for the workforce that comes from all over the world to build this particular new infrastructure?

Ms Buck: The strength of the transport programme is that so much of it is not Olympic specific. We built an Olympic plan on a programme of transport improvements which were happening anyway and which are scheduled to happen in many cases. Some of the key provisions of Olympic delivery are beginning this Christmas. For example, some of the additions to the Jubilee Line in London. We are increasing the provision of transport from now until 2012 with the major programmes scheduled to come in no later than 18 months before 2012. What you have in there is the capacity to deploy the resource effectively for your construction work over a seven year period. That does a great deal to reduce the skill bottlenecks.

Q340 Mr. Eric Martlew: Does that say that we are not going to be bringing people in from abroad?

Ms Buck: If you look at all the major construction projects that are going on all over the country, of course you are using skills, some of which are being brought in from abroad. We are not looking at a scenario where in 2011/12 you are going to be needing a massive workforce to complete your transport projects. That is absolutely integral to the way this transport delivery has been planned. It is phased over a very long period of time and it is primarily utilising a transport investment programme that was already planned for London's benefit.

Q341 Mr. Eric Martlew: If I can go back to the Jubilee Line and the Dome, because there was a deadline, there was a cost over-run and the people working on the line knew it had to be completed. There is a concern already. Transport construction costs are rising and we will be in a situation where, because we need to have it ready by the Olympics, the costs will even rise further. If that is the case, who is going to pay for this?

Ms Buck: It is a question of phasing in the construction of those improvements over the course of a very long time. There has been a recent report by a team of quantity surveyors looking at that issue and the possibility of pressures as a consequence of the programme. It concluded that, for exactly the reasons I have outlined, that is not any significant risk. On the Jubilee Line, you have the seventh car upgrade this Christmas. You have an up to 45 per cent increase in capacity on the Jubilee Line by 2009 and a programme of improvements rolling through year by year from now on. That does make a very fundamental difference. To compare that with the Dome would be fundamentally misleading.

Mr Caborn: We visited a lot of cities that had run the Olympics and they said, first of all, get the land, get planning. What you do in the first two years of running the Games is absolutely crucially important to the delivery seven years down the line. That is why on 14 July we introduced the second reading of the Olympics Bill which had been drafted even before 6 July, before we won the bid. We have been working with the LDA to make sure that we acquire the land. I give credit to all the local authorities in that area because we got outline planning well before we had won the Olympics. We had put quite a lot of this in place even before we knew the decision on 6 July. I think that will pay a lot of dividends because we do not want to get into crisis, when we get to the end date in 2012. The classic example of that was Athens when they had some real difficulties that cost huge amounts of money because it got into crisis management. We are determined not to do that. That is why we have done what we have done. That is what the ODA is there for. That is what LOCOG is there for.

Q342 Mr. Eric Martlew: You have not answered the question about who is going to pay if it does over-run. I have declared an interest that I live in Greenwich. The transport system from that part of London is very good in comparison with many constituencies in the country. How do you justify improving it even more just for the Olympics?

Ms Buck: The overwhelming bulk of the transport package -- I can hear snorting from Mr Efford -- in the Olympic bid comprised proposals that improved transport provision anyway. On top of that, there is a layer of specific Olympic funded modifications which are running -- additional trains and so forth -- to deliver the spectators to the Games.


Q405 Mr. Eric Martlew: Just on that point, you have said that it has not got to be a travelator but surely in the planning permission there was that condition. You are not saying that that planning permission should be ignored?

Ms Buck: No, certainly not.

Q406 Mr. Eric Martlew: So you are saying it should be agreed to?

Ms Buck: I am saying that a mechanised link, which is part of the planning permission, is something that if it is not delivered then something else needs to be delivered to that value. I am afraid you have now stretched my knowledge of the Stretford travelator to the very end.


Q417 Mr Leech: I would just like to push this point, if I could. If it transpires that the football season does coincide with the Olympic Games, has consideration been made to have discussions with the FA to avoid having any clash between Premier League games and the Olympics simply, because you could have a situation where 150,000 people are trying to travel around for Premiership football matches in London at the same time as major events in the Olympics?

Mr Caborn: As I have said, there is an agreement with the IOC that there will be no major sports events taking place during the period of the Olympics. We are discussing with the ECB and also if there were a clash on the Premier, which I do not believe there will be, we will discuss it with the Premier Division, not the FA, to make sure it will not clash and that indeed we will honour our obligations.

Q418 Mr. Eric Martlew: Are you saying that there should be no major events anywhere in the UK or just in London?

Mr Caborn: No, no, in the vicinity of the facilities that we are talking about, so we will be looking at London in that context because we are spread across London to Lords to Wimbledon to Wembley right through to the East End of London, so it will be sensible to do that.

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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