London 2012: Minor delays as Olympic VIP 'zil' lanes come into force
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Wednesday 25 July 2012
Motorists suffered minor delays yesterday as the feared “zil lanes” put in place for the Olympics came into operation and Londoners heeded months of pleading from transport chiefs by staying away.
Transport for London said that traffic in central London was down by 13.5 per cent compared to a normal week day as a quarter of the Olympic lanes which can only be used by athletes, officials and media covering the Games came into operation.
The opening of the dedicated routes, which non-Olympian motorists risk a £130 fine for straying into, led to jams on main roads into London including the A4 and the A40, and complaints from some motorists about conflicting information on which lanes were in use.
But TfL said the delays were generally shorter than they had been earlier in the week. A spokesman said: “Compliance levels among drivers have been high.”
The business of getting about London 48 hours before the opening ceremony was less smooth for users of the capital's new £45m cable car system.
Dozens of travellers were left suspended 300ft above the Thames today when the Emirates Air Line cable car system linking two Olympic venues broke down. More than 30 cars, carrying around 60 people, came to a halt due to a technical problem with the Emirates Air Line at 11.45am.
Passengers were evacuated after a 30 minute delay and the system was running normally later yesterday.
Meanwhile, MPs will today call for so-called “risk-based” checks to be re-introduced at Britain's borders as Heathrow faces the busiest day in its history with almost 130,000 passengers due to pass through London's main airport.
A report by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has found that allowing low risk groups, such as schoolchildren, to pass quickly through immigration should be re-instated to ease queues at airports.
A pilot scheme was scrapped following a row last year over the unauthorised relaxation of security checks. But MPs warned that the system should not be used as a means for low stringent security measures.
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