Friday, 20 July 2012

Travelling In Hope

Long ago when young and attending football matches of one sort or another and other events a wise uncle told me that it was not the going, it was the coming back that I should think about.  Quite how much time, effort and bother he has saved me, and later my family, is incalculable.

At events in the towns where I lived this did not need a great deal of thought or planning.  What did need this were events in other locations, especially those which had large attendances.  A little time taken to work out from maps, timetables and later potential parking places could make huge differences.

After one match at Twickenham, I was having a pub meal just north of Grantham when someone else I knew was still struggling to make progress within sight of the ground and another had just made it back to Waterloo on the local train service.  Things may have improved since then, but I doubt it.

We have had a great deal of comment on many aspects of the arrangements for The Games but I have yet to see much on what happens when you are coming away.  This is likely to have had a low priority. 

We shall see what might happen on Friday 27th July when a full house is expected with a large number of others who brought in or who have come from locations away from the Stadium, most of whom will be travelling either by public transport or by vehicle.

Quite why the Opening Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9.00 in the evening and finish at midnight is not clear.  The programme has been brought back already from half past midnight but a 1971 Spanish peso says it will run over, possibly for longer than expected.

As a long time traveller by rail, underground and car around London the timings, routing and distances are almost engraved on the mind.  The absolute rule is that it always takes longer than you want and often expect. 

The rapid movement out of up to 90,000 people heading out of the exits for the stations that are open or their cars probably means some holdups and dislocations.

Should their be any shunts on the roads, delays arising from confused motorists or junctions that cannot carry the weight of traffic then this could be like the old Wembley at its worst.  That was always bad, very bad.

As for public transport, one complication is that the closest station, Hackney Wick has been closed for the Games.  This has infuriated local shopkeepers robbed of a great deal of their normal passing trade in the locality.  But it is probably sensible, neither the station nor the franchisee, I suspect, could shift the potential numbers.

There are a number of late services available generally, but they may not be enough and there is a real risk of those heading for say Victoria or Paddington could be in trouble even if there are minor delays.

For the sake of those who might be involved I hope difficulties do not arise and it will go reasonably smoothly.  But there is a risk that many could find themselves looking for the early morning trains instead of the late night ones.  Worse still, this might invalidate their tickets.

There are two further complications.  One is the recurrent signalling problems on many rail and Underground lines, these are not going away.  Also, Friday night is boozers’ night on public transport as I know with bitter experience of too many trains stuck whilst the police deal with an “incident”.

Our problem is which DVD we will be watching that evening.  Perhaps the original 1955 “The Ladykillers” or even the 1952 “The Titfield Thunderbolt” might be appropriate to the occasion.


  1. Surely it has to be 'The Ten Commandments' - "Let my people go!"

    A very good point; little seems to have been said about where these enthusiastically cheering masses are supposed to put themselves when not filling their allocated seats, let alone how they will get home afterwards.

  2. My choice would be the original 1955 “The Ladykillers". Maybe with a glass of something too.

  3. "Bitter" experience indeed...being from Edinburgh I'm quite used to traffic chaos, my choice would be something more modern, "Gridlock'd" for example.