Good news - Olympic chiefs visit London. Bad news - they'll be travelling by Tube

It's crunch week for London's bid to host the 2012 Games. Jonathan Thompson and Andrew Johnson report
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The Independent Online

Senior government ministers and British sporting heroes will be on hand to extol the capital's virtues when the 12-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) team visits this week to assess the London 2012 bid.

Senior government ministers and British sporting heroes will be on hand to extol the capital's virtues when the 12-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) team visits this week to assess the London 2012 bid.

Although much of their four-day visit is expected to be spent in the exclusive Four Seasons Hotel in Canary Wharf grilling bid organisers in question and answer sessions, the evaluation commission will spend one day visiting London's proposed venues - and will take a trip on the Tube. It could prove a costly journey.

London 2012 organisers, who have spent up to £20m on the project, have pencilled in trips to the proposed sites, including the planned stadium at Stratford, the Millennium Dome at Greenwich and the ExCel centre in Docklands.

However, the commission can insist on being taken anywhere, including the new Wembley stadium, which will host the football, or to the archery venue at Lord's, or even to Wimbledon or Hackney.

Earlier this month, the Madrid bid suffered a setback over lack of accommodation, which was criticised by IOC members. Will transport prove London's Achilles heel? On Friday The Independent on Sunday sent four reporters on various journeys across London to put the transport infrastructure to the test.

Journey 1: Canary Wharf to Wembley

A simple trip that became an odyssey

A metallic voice on the Canary Wharf station intercom informed a packed Tube that the Jubilee line was down. A simple direct trip, 18 stops on the same train, was about to turn into a two-and-a-half-hour odyssey. Seeking "alternative routes", the crowd moved towards the nearby Docklands Light Railway, where the first four trains were too full for any more passengers. Squeezing on to the fifth was an angry, undignified scramble.

Next was the Central line, then a switch to the Metropolitan, and finally a wet Wembley. Something of an own goal.

Journey time: Two-and-a-half hours, one way.

Journey 2: Canary Wharf to Lord's

'A magical mystery tour of London lines'

This trip seemed a simple one. Hop on the Jubilee line at Canary Wharf and hop off 10 stops down the line at St John's Wood. Simple, if it were not for the chaotic transport infrastructure. Severe problems on the Jubilee line meant we had to take the Docklands Light Railway instead. Forced to use a combination of the Jubilee, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines, the journey to the cricket ground at Lord's took the best part of two hours. Four trains were missed due to crowding and the journey turned into a magical mystery tour of London stations and lines.

Journey time: One hour 55 minutes, one way.

Journey 3: Canary Wharf to Wimbledon

How 12 miles turned into an 80-minute epic

It's 12 miles from the Four Seasons Hotel in Canary Wharf to the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, but on London's rickety District line, it's an uncomfortable 80-minute mission. First you take the Docklands Light Railway, then the District line from Bank/Monument. There are 20 stops, and passengers may have to change at Earl's Court as there are various branches on the line. There were no seats and should the IOC team go to see the tennis facilities by Tube next week, they could find their noses squashed against the glass, and perhaps expect a few bruised ribs.

Journey time: One hour 20 minutes, one way.

Journey 4: Canary Wharf to Hackney Wick

Driver of a late train stopped for a chat

To travel from Canary Wharf to the new international station at St Pancras is an easy trip via the DLR and Northern line. But the money has yet to be released to complete the station from where Olympic visitors will be able to catch the express service to the Olympic village at Stratford. And to get to Hackney Wick, the site of the proposed basketball arena, they would have to take the Tube to Highbury & Islington and then take a Silverlink train. On the way back they might find theirtrain, already delayed by 15 minutes, stopping between stations while the driver chats to the driver of a train going in the opposite direction.

Journey time: Two hours, round trip.

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