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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tourism Minister apologises for London Transport Delays

Whenever people discover that I blog about the Tube, it gives them the opportunity to tell me their London Underground woes. On Monday night, while I was at
bloggers rum cocktail tasting, one of the guys from Elements 8 said "Oh my God, the Olympics is going to be embarrassing. How are we going to cope? Wouldn't the money be better spent elsewhere? Have you blogged about that?"

Scramble to get on bus - Olympic Handover -  BBC Screengrab

Obviously I had blogged about 2012 & london transport (a number of times) and although it's still several years away, I currently have no more confidence in the system making us proud. Particularly with the recent mess at this week's World Travel Market. Yesterday, Tourism Minister Barbara Follett, issued an apology after problems with the DLR and heavy congestion on the buses delayed the arrival of 50,000 people attending the largest travel and tourism trade show in the world. This is being held at ExCel in East London which is an Olympics venue.

Follett said "I apologise on behalf of the Government for the difficult journey that you have had for the two days reaching here. The weather and transport system can be variable in this country."

The weather is variable in many other countries and their transport system doesn't have major delays whenever there's some heavy rain. It's not as rain is something unusual in the UK.

John Probyn, the festival director at Live Nation, the country's biggest events promoter, told The Times that London's transport system had an awful international reputation and felt it was getting worse. "For a major city, it's so frustrating in London sometimes. London Underground do try really hard but they are not allowed to get creative with their scheduling [for improvement works]. It's not good enough. You go to New York or Singapore and you can go anywhere you want, any time of the day."

I think that's going to surprise most visitors to London in 2012, the fact that the Tube doesn't run 24 hours or at least for much after 12.30am. When I was in New York recently, I saw loads of engineering and repair work being carried out late at night, and the subway ran perfectly well while this was going on.

Night Time Contractors on New York Subway

Maybe I'll be proved wrong and the London Underground will run like clockwork in the summer of 2012. There'll be no threat of Tube strikes, it won't be hot, stuffy and overcrowded, we won't have cartoon giant fans as air conditioning and everyone will get to the games on time. But then again pigs might fly.


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