Monday, 13 August 2012

Team GB Transport - The Silent Heroes

Whilst all the hype, plaudits and glory went to Team GB's athletes, when we reflect on the wider outcome of of London 2012, a huge lesson to learn was the successful implementation of the "car free games".
This had never been achieved before. An event the size and importance of this - including all the logistics of moving competitors, officers and media - to be operated largely private car-free, was an enormous task - and years in the planning.
And, like Team GB itself, it was a spectacular success.
The booming tones of London Mayor Boris Johnson had been heard in railway stations across the land, imploring us to "get ahead of the games" (dot com) as London threatened to grind to a complete standstill for Games fortnight. In the end, everything ran mostly to plan, and the collective efforts of "Team GB Transport" can be viewed with a sense of pride. Britain, of all places, proved that life goes on without the car.
Records were broken not only on the track, but on the tube. On one day, usage was up 19%. The Docklands Light Railway carried 70% more than it's normal daily levels, and Boris's cycle hire was also a success - recording 1 million journeys for the first time.
Further afield, a good news story in Sheffield, home of the Queen of the heptathlon Jessica Ennis. First has reported encouraging passenger growth on some routes in the City as people took to the buses to go to watch events or to celebrate with a trip to the pub. Special fare offers on 8 key routes have proved so popular that the operator is extending them beyond the end of the Olympics into September and possibly beyond. Fare cuts aren't always the simple answer to get more bums on seats and revive routes, but, coupled with the spectacular success of the London Olympic transport experience, there are encouraging lessons to be learnt here.
If public transport can deliver - as it most certainly has in this example - it is a win-win for everyone. The over-riding lesson appears to be partnership working and co-operation. Again, this won't and can't work everywhere for all sorts of reasons, but it has always been the case that where different organisations share the same vision eg forward-thinking bus operators teaming up with like-minded local authorities, great things can happen.
Making public transport work seamlessly so that the public don't even think about it is the ultimate goal.
Director of Transport at the Olympic Delivery Authority Hugh Sumner was asked how he might define transport success at the games.
"As long as it says sport on the front pages and not transport, we will have done our jobs" he said.
And the job has been done. Efficiently, successfully and quietly.
So whilst we bask in the glory of a successful Olympics for Team GB, let's also raise a glass to everyone involved in "Team GB Transport" - the silent heroes!

some background information in this blog provided by Passenger Transport magazine


  1. My hubby has nowt but compliments for the virgin train service from wton to euston,says it was second to none efficient and very comfortable.might even be tempted to use the trains for more days out,there's real bargains to be had .

  2. The ability to deal with several major incidents, which on 'normal' days would have created havoc, suggests that operators my realise that contingency is not as costly as they fear, and there are many ways to co-operate when things go awry.

    19,000 shifted through Cardiff Central in 2 hours, with extra coaches and extra trains rustled up on the night. With it made so clear that shifting large numbers out from the big stadia by rail avoids the mass congestion delivered by private car.

    A very impressive performance by London Midland, thoughtfully posting the state of key car parks as they approached 100% full, and on the evening when 2 trains broke down and the wires came down. complete revision of timetables and found 2 diesel trains to get past Network Rail repairing wires with power off. With WCML having an incident between Rugby and London (with none of the 'instant' alternative routes available further North) at least once a week, we should surely look at having those diesel contingency trains an hand this and other London routes.

    Still can't get over how we managed to get 29 gold medals - and just happen to have 29 Javelin trains, that could be named