London 2012: Severe delays hit several vital Olympic routes


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Passengers suffered delays on several of London’s most important Olympic routes after a series of problems hit the transport network just a few days before the games begin.

The Jubilee line, which connects Stratford to Canary Wharf and central London, and predicted to the busiest route of all, was subject to lengthy delays during rush hour owing to a fault with the protective doors at North Greenwich Station, the stop for the O2 arena.

The Docklands Light Railway was also delayed after signalling problems in east London at Canning Town.

A signal failure at Canonbury in north London also affected the London Overground Network which connects Stratford in east London with Richmond in the far west. Almost the entire service was affected.

The Underground's Central line was also suspended westbound between from Liverpool Street and White City - an area spanning central London in its entirety - due to a person under a train.

The problems were no more severe than might affect London’s underground network on any given morning, but games organisers and transport officials have put serious investment into improving services in time for the games. They know that the network will find it very difficult to cope with the extra influx of passengers, and even the most minor set back may have serious implications for getting ticket holders to events and commuters to work on time.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said: “We think that the drop off in commuter numbers that comes with school holidays is more than the uptake we expect to see from the games, but we know transport is a major challenge. But can I assure you that we think we have done everything possible to make it work? Yes I can.”

On the roads, delays of up to ninety minutes were occuring on the M40 coming into London from Oxfordshire and the Midlands, a consequence of the first road restrictions coming into place on the A40 in west London.

Other restrictions on the A12 and A13 in east London led to delays of up to two hours.

All of the “games lanes” for the use solely of Olympic traffic come into force on Wednesday.

Transport for London have long acknowledged that even if everything goes according to their plans, and there are no signal failures, no defective trains, and no malfunction of any kind - a situation that is highly unlikely - there will still be thirty minute waits to board tube trains at particular “hotspots”, like London Bridge, at the busiest times on the busiest days of the games.