|Terminal 5 - a portent for the Olympics?
I'm hearing on the news that Heathrow's newly opened Terminal 5 was in a state of some chaos on its first day today, with "Hand baggage only" being order of the daym, and what started as a smooth operation in the morning turning into a chaos of queues snaking right out of the checkin area by tea time ...
And, co-incidentally, I attended a meeting last night where we heard from various transport planners associated with getting the transport right for the Olympic games. And I have to say I found the picture they painted inconsistent and worrying. On one hand, the talk of it being "all public transport" with parking only for the most seriously disabled, and on the other hand they talk of buying three thousand cars (that's the London end). On one hand, they talk about building something that will last and on the other hand they end up proudly justifying a bridge because the middle span will be retained to give access to an area of land that will be a prime development site. And on one hand we hear of there being a great train stock shortage - so much so that nothing will be scrapped int he next few years as there's a need to increase capacity, yet on the other hand we hear of the organisers looking to pay the TOCs to retain stock in mothballs for a few years then put it back in to service, together with semi-retired drivers retained as part timres for a while, for the 60 days of the Olympics.
In a way it's early and it would be unfair of me to expect full answers, but I had a question about the travel issues that they couldn't answer. To me, a journey has a start and an end and it seems like the Olymic folks have onky considered one end of the journey - they're looking at getting people in and out or venue, of running public transport to and from there until the middle of the night. But where to? It would be too early to suggest that the tactics of each route should have been planned, but it seemed they didn't know about the strategy. Weymouth man seemed to be looking narrowly at the area below the white Jurassic Cliffs - as if the A35 and rail links will magically feed traffic to his relief road whch "is nothing to do with the Olymoics" but should be ready for them, and London man came up with a rather muted "claerly that won't do" when I suggested that a fleet of trains from London dumping everyone at Bristol Temple Meads (say) wasn't going to get paople back to their individual B&Bs and other sleeping places and for the only time all evening an otherwise eloquent gentleman seemed lost for words.
I worry that it's not been thought through, and that the plan is going off at half cock. I worry when I hear Weymouth man refer me to a sentence on page 52 of a report that he waves at me and I've never seen before - I've painful memories of a time that was done at it turned out to be the death knell of an appropariate train service in Melksham. And I worry that - even at this early stage - we're headed for a Teminal 5 type startup for the Olympic transport. Problem is ... the games run for two weeks.
I do hope we don't bleed the outer ends of people's journeys dry of investment over the next five years to put together a magnificent set of schemes at the centre, only to find that teething troubles for their first two weeks of full use mean they're just about right by the time they're to be finished with, leaving us with some very expensive bridges to nowhere. I hope, but on last night's evidence I fear that it's a vain hope.
Written 2008-03-28 06:09:15
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