Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Great Expectations - London 2012

It's here, and it's tangible. London 2012.

For weeks the tube stations have been adding Olympic venue directions signs.

This morning the journey to work was hell; packed station, slow train... For the first time I felt that the fear London's transport system would let down London 2012 could be realised.

Last night saw the first London 2012 opening ceremony dress rehearsal. The transport apparently went into meltdown, and seized up around Stratford after 6pm. An unhealthy combination of too many people and too hot weather.

From tonight's Evening Standard:

Transport bosses were attacked today after blaming the hot weather for crippling services to the Olympic opening ceremony rehearsals.
Up to 40,000 performers and spectators were involved in the rehearsal last night, and many were caught up in the chaos as Tube and rail lines into the Olympic park failed.
Cast and crew frantically switched to other routes but many were late for the dry run at the stadium in Stratford.
Tracks buckled at Hackney Wick in the high temperatures, halting Overground trains, while on the Tube the Central line serving Stratford was part-suspended all evening from 6.30pm because of a dislodged traction rail at St Paul’s. Many people were so late they could be seen sprinting to the stadium from Stratford station.
The rehearsal started at 7.30pm but spectators continued to arrive for another hour and some did not make it until after 9pm. Some said they contemplated giving up and going home. There were also major Jubilee line delays earlier in the day after problems with the platform-edge doors.
Games organisers were braced for further problems before the final —and largest — rehearsal tomorrow night, which will involve up to 50,000 performers and spectators.
As a mayoral investigation was demanded today to find out why it  went so wrong, Boris Johnson admitted services were “not perfect”, after he received his daily 9am Olympic briefing from police and transport chiefs.
Graduate Sam Batt, 22, of Ealing, said he left home at 4.30pm but did not arrive at the stadium until about 8.10pm. “It’s just ridiculous. It’s not the best indicator for the Games,” he added. Gulcan Akbulut, 29, from of Chiswick, did not arrive until 9pm.
“I tried to give myself two hours, but I should have allowed three or four,” she added. Sheila Mistry, 42, an administrator from Ilford who arrived just after 8pm, said: “Five days to the Olympics and it’s meltdown.”
The Central line problems meant thousands of passengers were evacuated from trains and the line was suspended between White City and Bethnal Green. Overground services went down at 5.24pm between Canonbury and Stratford and did not resume until 9.28pm.

I'll have my own first experience of the London Olympics tomorrow night - I'm off to the second dress rehearsal before the real deal on Friday. So looking forward to it...

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