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Thursday, 19 April 2012

One year in

Last night we celebrated the end of our Fit for London programme - our exciting series of events which for the first time in the entire history of Transport for London involved every single employee.

Staff came in groups of 150 or so to Stratford International Station and into a purpose-built auditorium nside what will be the International Ticket Hall. Hosted by either Mike Brown, MD Rail & Underground or myself, we spent two hours outlining our prorities for the future, and most importantly listening to what all our staff had to say about the challenges today and tomorrow.

Staff reaction has been overwhelmingly positive - particularly as they came together for perhaps the first time ever in mixed groups and learned about achievements and challenges across the business - from each other. We have taken away a huge number of ideas and issues to help us deliver our services aganst a challenging financial backdrop in the future.

After each event everyone had a tour of the Olympic Park aboard a fleet of double-deck buses from First each with a guide on board. The Olympics, now less than a 100 days away of course, demonstrates first hand just what we can do when we work collaboratively and with a clear objective.

By co-incidence it was also the occasion of the completion of my first year at TfL - a year which has raced past and which has been full of challenges. It was therefore a fitting opportunity to thank all of my team for all their hard work this past year.

The next year looks no less exciting - we have a Mayoral election, the Olympic Games, and continued growing demand for all our services against a rising population of London - another 1.25million people coming here over the next 20 years. That's roughly adding the population of Birmingham to London.

So thank you to everyone who has contributed to all our successes this year and in anticipation of the next one, as we roll up our corporate sleeves and deliver a fantastic London 2012 Olympic Games.

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Saturday, 7 April 2012

111 days to go

There are 111 days to the Olympic Games in London and from here on things will get really busy as we prepare for the summer - one which really starts with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and runs through until the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games in September.

The vital statistics of the Games are ingrained in my brain - 23,000 athletes, 30,000 media, 5000 officials, 203 countries, 100 Heads of State. All here at once. Over 8m tickets have been sold to spectators but there will, if the experience of previous Games' cities is demonstrated, millions of others here in London to be part of the atmosphere, attend many of the cultural events going on, and of course try and see the many Olympic events taking place on our streets and which are open to the public.

Every inch of the areas around the venues and the Olympic Route Network are available on-line. You can see just how the roads will be affected. Also on-line are 'heat maps' showing the levels of traffic we expect on the surface and at stations. And lastly there are journey planners which will guide everyone across London avoiding the most heavily-used places.

We are increasing the levels of our messages to all who live and work in London - how to prepare for getting to and from work, get your deliveries organised, keep your business functioning etc. With such a huge amount of information available it is really possible to plan ahead.

Some subtle changes to the road network is already underway - if you look closely you will see some traffic islands and traffic signals have been swapped so they are of the 'clip in and out' variety. Other works are also taking place.

The media continues to be clumsy with its language and we spend a lot of time correcting them. The Olympic Route Network is 109 miles of fast moving corridors linking the venues with Central London. With one tiny exception it is open to all traffic. The traffic will travel on it like a fast moving current as there will be no stopping, there will be temporary banned turns and a reduction in the number of crossings.

On about a third of the ORN there are lanes for Games Family vehicles only. This is generally where there are two lanes and in most cases it is the offside lane. These lanes will usually be full - that's how many Games Family vehicles there are. When they are not needed, we will switch them off using variable message signs.

The Torch relay comes to London in July and is visiting every Borough. In the last week before the Opening Ceremony it is spiralling into inner London so we expect crowds to increase. My advice therefore is to plan ahead not just for the Games but the previous week as well.

Other good advice from previous Games is to have plenty of help on the street so we are turning down the amount of 'ordinary business' to allow thousands of TfL staff to volunteer to help on a wide-range of duties. A chance to help directly deliver a great Games and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to add a unique reference on their CV.

This is going to be a very exciting summer!


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