Great concerts – shame about the journey home from the O2
Wednesday 27 May 2009
For the thousands of music fans who converged on London's O2 arena on Monday night, the gyrating Beyoncé and her team of dancers were forgotten as soon as they filed out of the venue.
Planned engineering work on the Jubilee underground line had made the arena impossible to access by train, and thousands of people were still stranded in the car park or queuing for taxis more than an hour after the American singer had sung her final song.
The delays occurred despite a series of emails sent out by the venue ahead of the gig, which suggested a number of alternative transport methods, including catching a boat along the Thames to Waterloo or London Bridge for £6, or driving to the arena and paying £15 to park. North Greenwich, on the Jubilee Line, is the venue's only Tube link and is favoured by the vast majority of concert goers.
A spokeswoman for the O2 said engineering work during major concerts was "frustrating" but added that the venue was working closely with Transport for London (TfL) to give music fans as many travel options as possible.
"It's not an ideal situation, but unfortunately there's not much we can do about it apart from working with TfL and putting a robust plan in place," she said. "A lot of the time we've already booked a show when the Tube works are announced, and our hands are completely tied. It's a terrible inconvenience for people, but we do try to make it as bearable as possible."
A spokesperson for TfL said: "Bus replacement services are provided to link with other Tube and rail routes. Once the work to improve the Jubilee Line is completed, all passengers will benefit from faster and more reliable journeys. Work is due to be completed by the end of this year."
On 25 April, similar engineering work forced people on their way to see Bob Dylan to find an alternative route. Earlier this month, it emerged that weekend closures of the Jubilee Line had been scheduled for the start of Michael Jackson's much-hyped series of comeback gigs at the O2, after the line's upgrade fell two months behind schedule.
The venue's managers reportedly met senior TfL officials to try to avert the closures, which would leave thousands of people facing major delays. Jackson is set to perform 50 times, with the first concert scheduled for 13 July.
Paul Stokes, news editor of the music magazine NME, said he admired the O2 as a concert venue but that its position on only one Underground line was a disadvantage. "If you haven't got the Tube running then it might as well be in another country – that's how hard it is to get to Greenwich generally, let alone the O2," he said. "With a venue this size, not having the Tube running is always going to create massive problems."
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