Stratford Station today
On the 6th July 2005 at 12.49 pm BST, it was announced to the world that the hosts of the 2012 Olympic Games would be…. London! Beating off close competition from Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow, London had been awarded the largest event of its kind on earth. So in the first of an occasional series up to the Olympics this piece covers the regeneration of Stratford Station which along with Stratford International 400 metres away will form the lynchpin of the Olympic transport arrangements serving the Olympic Park and contributing to the regeneration of East London. More than this the hosting of the 2012 Olympics is a proud moment for London to display the diversity and dynamism it enjoys as a truly World City.
The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games will take place on 27 July 2012 and the Closing Ceremony on the 12 Aug 2012. 18 days later, the Paralympic Games (the second largest event of its kind in the world) will stage its Opening Ceremony.
See Paralympic Games;
The scene in Trafalgar Square London on 6th July 2005
The challenge was set by the Beijing 2008 Olympics which were widely perceived as highly successful but closer examination reveals some transport problems and solutions which would not be portable to an open city like London and an open society in modern Britain. Firstly the Olympic Park in Beijing was a huge concreted area of 12 K m² (what / who was there before?) without merchandising and catering leading to much criticism that the Park was an atmosphere free wasteland outside of the stadia and venues.
Beijing Metro with Line 8 serving Olympic venues
In addition the Olympic Park was served by Metro Line 8, a 3 station line which had only opened 18 days before the opening ceremony and whose uneven track wear revealed unacknowledged teething problems. Because the security arrangements were changed shortly before the games (due to bombings in Western China) all passengers had to disembark at the interchange station of Beitucheng, go through security and then re-enter the system leading to long delays. This meant many people didn’t get to the venues on time. One of the 3 stations on Line 8 was outside the Security Zone and could not be used and the final huge Olympic Sports Centre Stadium was distant from the venues in the Olympic Park and was lightly used. Also much of the inward crowd control was achieved by using lines of soldiers to form human corridors and that is not an option for London 2012.
Stratford Regional Upgrade
It is expected that during the Olympic Games, more than 7.7 million tickets will be sold during the 16 days of competition. This will allow spectators to watch nearly 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations compete in 26 sports at 300 different venues across the United Kingdom. In London, these venues fall into 3 zones:
• The Olympic Park – this includes the main stadium and several smaller venues for the hockey, swimming, cycling etc
• The River Zone – this includes the ExCel Centre, O2 Arena and Greenwich Park
• The Central Zone – which includes Hyde Park, Regents Park and Horse Guards Parade
The Olympic Transport plan calls for 100% of ticketed spectators to travel to the 2012 Games by Public Transport or by walking or cycling. The vision for Olympic Transport in 2012 is for existing public transport services in London to be improved and enhanced in the years before 2012 and additional services will operate during the Games to meet the extra demand. It is estimated that these enhancements will mean a train arriving at the main Olympic Park every 15 seconds. Services due for improvement include:
• Docklands Light Railway – through the addition of an extra carriage (from 2 to 3 cars) on the entire fleet, which will also be increased, track extension to Woolwich Arsenal and service enhancements.
• North London Line – will become part of “London Overground” which will see new rolling stock as well as new terminating platforms at Stratford and an increase in services. In addition the extended East London Line will reopen in 2010.
See East London Line
• Stratford International Station – the introduction of the “Javelin” service which will run from St Pancras International, through Stratford International, to Ebbsfleet – with a train arriving every 7 mins.
See St. Pancras Reborn;
• LU initiatives – West Ham Station Upgrade, Stratford Regional Upgrade and 2012 Service Plan
• Olympic Route Network – As well as the transport enhancements undertaken, an Olympic Route Network (ORN) will be implemented, which will comprise a network of roads linking all competition and key non-competition venues to enable the Olympic Family members to travel quickly and securely between accommodation, competition venues, airports etc.
Stratford Station signage reflects the multi operator environment
Stratford Regional Station is a major public transport interchange that enables passengers from east of London to travel to Canary Wharf without travelling into central London. It also provides interchange opportunities for passengers using Underground services to or from central London. Stratford Regional Station has been identified as a gateway station for the Olympic Park.
Olympic Park – Model and Map of the site
Stratford Regional Station currently experiences occasional periods of passenger congestion. As well as the Games there are other sources of additional future demand at Stratford Regional Station. These include the underlying significant increase in demand to 2016 which was forecast in the Mayor’s London Plan and the Stratford City Development (SCD) adjacent to the station. Stratford City is a project to create a major new mixed use urban centre in East London on the site of a former railway goods yard at Stratford. The project will cost £4 billion funded from both public and private sources. The site lies to the north of the existing Stratford town centre around Temple Mills. The development totals 13.5 million ft² (1,300,000 m²), including 5 million ft² (460,000 m²) of offices, 1.6 million ft² (150,000 m²) of retail and 4,850 new homes. The retail element will be anchored by three department stores and it is hoped that it will become the third most important retail centre in London after the West End and Knightsbridge shopping districts in the city centre. There will be a cluster of tall buildings including towers of 50 and 30 storeys designed by Richard Rogers.
A package of improvements to Stratford Regional Station is being implemented. These improvements will provide a long-term legacy benefit before the Games, as well as additional temporary measures to meet the specific needs of the Games. This package is part of a larger scheme which includes works related to the Stratford City Development and the proposed Docklands Light Railway extension to Stratford International Station.
The programme of works being developed includes the following elements:
• re-opening the eastern subway with new stairs to platforms 3/5 (westbound Central line and westbound mainline) and 6/8 (eastbound Central and eastbound mainline);
• an additional westbound platform for the Central Line;
• widening the eastern end of platforms 6/8,
• platform extensions and associated network works for platforms 10a, 11 and 12 (mainline);
• improved accessibility and connectivity to, and between, platforms through the provision of additional lifts and staircases;
• a new mezzanine structure to link the Jubilee Line with the proposed Town Centre Link bridge;
• upgraded station domestic power supplies, and increased station command and control facilities;
• de-cluttering of platforms 3/5 and 6/8; and
• a temporary footbridge on platform 6/8, if required.
In addition there are other planned or proposed works being developed by other parties:
Docklands Light Railway will construct two new platforms (12a and 12b) for use by the North London Line. The platforms will be connected to all subways, which will be extended. There will also be a connection between the central and eastern subways;
Stratford Regional – view from Stratford City side
Docklands Light Railway will convert the existing North London Line platforms (1 and 2) for use by the Docklands Light Railway on the Canning Town to Stratford International Station route;
Docklands Light Railway has also upgraded the existing mezzanine level platform to two terminating platforms (4a and 4b) for services to Poplar; and as part of the Stratford City Development a new Northern Ticket Hall will be constructed along with the Town Centre Link Bridge, (also known as the ‘Living Bridge’), which will link Stratford town centre with the new Stratford City Development.
The planned works will increase the peak capacity of Stratford Regional Station for existing and new services. The infrastructure works will provide much needed additional capacity, but it will also be essential to develop robust operational plans for each of the modes in order to deliver these essential works.
The transport arrangements for London 2012 will succeed or fail based on the success of the arrangements at Stratford Regional and Stratford International. By 2012 London Underground is expected to be supporting 4M daily passenger journeys (up from 3.3M at present) but during the Olympic period this will increase to 5M passenger journeys a day driven by the Olympic venues, workforce and the Olympic Events each day in Hyde and Victoria Parks which are expected to attract around 65,000 people each day. For Stratford it means handling 120,000 passengers during the 3 hour morning peak, up from 37,000 today. Of these 3 to 4% are expected to be mobility impaired and larger wider lifts will be designed to make access easier.
The London 2012 Olympic Challenge is a huge undertaking but for both the spectators and residents of London the first measure of success will be how well transport arrangements cope with the exceptional demand both of “normal life” and the Olympics, the all night running on the days of the opening and closing ceremonies and the late running to 2.30 am on other nights. How London copes with this exceptional demand whilst maintaining safety and security will be largely gauged from how well the crucial Stratford Hub works.