Railways have been praised for rising to the challenge of delivering 1000s of sports people and spectators to and from the 2012 Olympics in London and associated venues across Britain.
Over five million people used the railway, an increase of 18.5% on normal services. This is thought to be the most sustained rise in capacity in the railway’s 187-year history. In a strong show of unity and professionalism railway staff came together to keep the Olympics moving and worked round the clock to run extra trains and keep stations open later.
Analysts say over 55% of spectators used rail to access the Games. Performance was at its best with more than 9 out 10 trains arriving on time. The railway was able to work at full capacity during the Olympics. Maintenance and major track works were completed earlier this summer leaving the way clear for reliable runs into London. This helped train companies provide extra services and longer trains. The timetable was extended to cater for late running events.
Hundreds of extra staff from train companies and Network Rail worked at the busiest stations across the capital and throughout the south of England. The London Underground saw a 30% increase in ridership at busy times during the games. The DLR saw more than six million journeys – up by over 100 per cent on normal levels. London Overground saw nearly six million journeys – a jump of 47 per cent on normal levels.
A delighted Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, praised the army of volunteers, military personnel and transport staff, saying, ‘I want to thank the tens of thousands who have made this all possible from a range of partner organisations, including our fantastic police and emergency services, the Armed Forces and security personnel, Transport for London staff and all transport workers. They have not only ensured we have enjoyed a smooth, safe and secure Olympic Games but also given a warm and friendly British welcome to all our guests.’
Railway staff up and down the country were heavily involved in the Olympics managing a steady stream of visitors to the capital. Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Trains, Chris Gibb paid tribute to the hard work put in by staff around the network. ‘Thanks to the positive efforts and commitment of staff, thousands of people were able to travel successfully to and from Olympics events by Virgin Trains.’ The trains ran well with available data showing that the daily average punctuality and reliability of national rail services ranged from 91.5% to 94.7%.
Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations, Network Rail, said, ‘Britain’s railway helped millions of spectators travel to and from Games venues and other Olympic sites this summer, while keeping commuters and other passengers moving.’
He went on to thank all railway staff for working round the clock. Fully-staffed trains were kept on standby at different points around the capital, ready to head off to stations when they become especially busy. The huge effort by the railway industry helped London stage what has been termed the best Olympic Games ever. Already railway people have been approached by Brazilian authorities to help organise the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.