Businesses urged to plan road use during Olympics
The government seems increasingly nervous that the business community is not taking heed of calls for it to plan how it uses the road network – especially in and around the capital – during the Olympics.
Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, recently added her voice to the campaign urging businesses to plan properly for the likely disruption during both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. She said, “I am very worried that local companies whose business requires them to drive around East London will be severely impacted by the Games. Transport for London believes that circulating details of when they expect the traffic to be heavy will help businesses plan and avoid the road network at times of peak activity. They really believe that people will avoid the roads and have even suggested that my daily drive from Purfleet to Westminster will take less time! The reality is that for many there is no choice but to use the roads as this is their livelihoods,” she continued. “Nonetheless there are things that businesses can do to mitigate the impact that the Olympics will have. Transport for London has offered to run surgeries for those firms most affected and advise them when they are most likely to face difficulty. I would encourage businesses to take advantage of this so that you can plan to avoid traffic congestion where it is anticipated.”
Opening ceremony concern
There is particular concern over the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday 27 July, as this clashes with one of the busiest holiday get-away weekends of the summer, when traffic levels are already predicted to be around 30 per cent above average. But the disruption is going to be much more widespread than just this event. Of course, the Olympics kick off with the nationwide torch relay from 19 May until 21 July. For the torch tour, however, rolling roadblocks will help to minimise disruption. Then the Olympic Games will take place from 27 July to 12 August, followed by a period of ‘transition’ until the Paralympics begin on 29 August, ending on 9 September. With 9 million Olympics tickets and 2 million Paralympics tickets having been issued, it is estimated that some 20 million spectator trips will be made, with a whopping 3 million of these taking place on the busiest day.
In central London, a well as the Olympic Park that houses the Olympic Stadium and Aquatic Centre, the Games will also take place in the Central Zone (Earls Court, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Hyde Park and Horse Guards Parade), the River Zone (North Greenwich Arena, Greenwich Park, Royal Artillery Barracks and ExCel), Wembley (Arena and Stadium) and Wimbledon. Add in the road-based events – cycling, walking and the marathon – and it is not difficult to see that the potential for disruption is huge. But the problems will not be confined to London alone; there are also the other venues nationwide – Hampden Park, St James’ Park, Old Trafford, City of Coventry Stadium, Eton Dorney, Lee Valley White Water Centre, Hadleigh Farm, Brands Hatch, Weymouth & Portland and the Millennium Stadium – plus 26 ‘live sites’ with huge screens (4 in London and another 22 across the country).
To manage the flow of people and traffic, the 109-mile-long Olympic Route Network (ORN) has been devised, which will be amended into a slightly less restrictive Paralympic Route Network (PRN) for the Paralympics. These designated routes feature access and parking restrictions at Games venues, plus 30 miles of ‘Games Lanes’ to facilitate the flow of sporting participants and officials. The ORN/PRN will come into operation two days before the Games begin, with core routes restricted from 6am to midnight.
UPS only for the final mile
The freight industry must rely on UPS, the official logistics partner of London 2012, for the final mile of deliveries for parcels and freight to all Olympic and Paralympic venues. UPS has now published its tariff for these services: £5 for a single package and £45 for a single pallet. Not so bad, you might think, until you add on the ‘additional security charge’ of £20 for packages and £60 for pallets during the ‘lockdown’ period determined by the LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games). Then there’s the UPS small print to contend with, such as “All shipments delivered to UPS for the Final Mile service must be in unmarked (except for shipping label) or UPS branded packaging”, and “The Freight Final Mile service is restricted to a specific maximum pallet size due to security screening requirements”. If those aren’t enough to give a distribution manager sleepless nights, there’s always “Due to extra handling requirements, UPS does not provide a money-back guarantee for the Final Mile service”, or the equally unpalatable “In order to respond to evolving costs and taxes and to ensure a competitive service, UPS reserves the right to amend or introduce changes to rates and additional charges.” No wonder they love logistics!