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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Second half

The climax of the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games

Once again London is transformed as the Paralympic Games get underway - the second half of this huge once-in-a-lifetime sporting and cultural spectacle.

The Paralympics are an equal challenge to the main Games - it is sold out with some 2.5m tickets in the hands of spectators and once again athletes, officials, media and spectators all needing to be at venues at specific times. There are fewer venues this time (although one new one at Brands Hatch). In addition there are the additional challenges of more people with mobility difficulties and also many more groups - several hundred coaches on certain days.

The note was set by the outstanding Opening Ceremony - with its own flypast, fireworks, high-wire acrobatics and music. All delivered around the arrival of 164 countries' athletes.

Like the Torch Relay earlier that day, the ceremony ran rather late and so breached our notional curfew of midnight - after which our planning shows we are at risk of not being able to deliver everyone home. By the time 60,000 people have left the Olympic Park we are really into the times of last trains despite them running significantly later than usual. And whilst everyone can be whisked away from Stratford on one of several different services there is the question of onward connections for those passengers.

It worked. The ceremony finished at 0009. The train service was gently held back to fill them some more and this stretched the times of the last ones. The contingency bus fleet was deployed running extra journeys on route 25 to Central London and on local bus services (never forgetting there are the park staff to get home too).

With this logistical challenge behind us we settle into the ever changing routine of events at multiple venues, crowds leaving them, and an ever-increasing background of general traffic in London as holidays end and schools return.

So as ever we repeat our request which was so splendidly taken up by London and Londoners during the Olympic Games, which was to plan ahead, avoid driving in the City, on or near the Paralympic Route Network and the venues themselves. Use our excellent Journey Planner which will route you on the public transport network away from the hotspots and we will get everyone to and from their destination again successfully.

Spectators and Park staff using
late-night bus services from Stratford


  1. You'd think by now that anyone who plans such a big event - particularly when it's finishing so late at night - would model their assessment of the time needed on the Victorian approach to engineering; calculate how long it's likely to take, add a contingency for the unexpected, add a bit more just in case, add some more because these things always take longer than expected, then add 50% just to be sure. In the unlikely event that none of the contingency was then needed and it had finished at say 2230, I'm sure the stadium audience would still think they'd had their money's worth and be grateful for a less-pressured journey home, while the remaining TV time could have been easily filled with reruns, inane waffle and of course a few adverts/trailers. The Paralympic closing ceremony seems to have been the only one to take this approach and ended bang on time.

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