Paralympic lanes come into force tomorrow


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The Independent Online

The first Games lane for the Paralympics will come into force tomorrow as competitors start arriving at Heathrow in large numbers.

The first of the special lanes will be between junctions 3 and 2 on the M4 which takes traffic from Heathrow into central London.

It will be in operation each day as needed from 5am to 10pm, with "ordinary" traffic able to use it outside these times.

British Airways is flying in Paralympic teams from 25 countries including ParalympicsGB who are thought to be arriving at Heathrow next week from their training camps abroad.

Along with the athletes, BA is also transporting around 300 wheelchairs and sporting equipment such as firearms, weapon bags, physiotherapist cases, bike boxes, tandem bikes, bow and arrows, and hand cycles.

BA operations director Andy Lord said: "It has been a mammoth operation that we have been planning and preparing for since the 2008 Beijing Games, when we flew Team GB and ParalympicGB home on a gold nose aircraft.

"It is a privilege to fly thousands of athletes, their coaching teams and their sporting equipment into London for the Paralympic Games and follows on from the great service we delivered for the Olympic Games."

The M4 lane is part of a much smaller Games lane operation than for the main Olympics with just 8.7 miles of special lanes for the Paralympics which start next Wednesday (August 29) and end on September 9.

The lanes are part of the Paralympic Route Network (PRN), which, in turn, is much smaller than the 109-mile Olympic Route Network.

Apart from the M4 lane, the PRN will not come into force until next Wednesday. It will be focused on the City of London where the International Paralympic Committee and the world's media will be based and on venues in east London.

On most days, the number of people travelling to the Olympic Park will be as many as travelled there during the Olympics, with up to 215,000 spectators expected.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The Paralympic Games are shaping up to be the best ever as London continues to buzz with Olympic excitement, and Paralympic tickets are selling like hot cakes.

"One of the things that made the Olympic Games such a great success was the way Londoners changed the way they usually travel, arriving at work a little earlier or later to avoid the busiest times.

"I want to thank every Londoner for that, and to ask everybody to plan ahead once more, so they can get out and enjoy everything London has to offer during the Paralympics and help keep our great city moving."