With the London 2012 Olympic Games just around the corner, and Britain ready to play host to the world, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics has vocalised his worry that London’s transport network will not be able to cope with the number of visitors and athletes.
Hugh Robertson said that London’s transport system runs close to capacity on a daily basis, and if there were to be issues with the Javelin Train or the Jubilee line, then London could find itself in a crisis.
London is better prepared than any recent host city for the Olympics as it enters its final year of preparations on Wednesday, with Mayor Boris Johnson declaring confidently “We are ready”. However Robertson remains sceptical, if not optimistic.
The Sports minister is facing problems that suggest motorists could suffer when they cross unwittingly into Olympic traffic lanes in London, something that will see many landing a fine over the course of the games.
Many believe that security around the games will be the constant, defining challenge facing organisers. Sir Paul Stephenson, who recently resigned from the Metropolitan Police was known to suffer from sleepless nights about the challenge of keeping visitors safe, even with 12,000 officers and sections of the Army promised to be deployed to the Games each day.
High demand for event tickets has seen the first major rumblings of public discontent, and Mr Robertson says he realises the need to "manage expectation" over the coming 12 months.
He has been a strong defender of the £9.3bn project – which is now 88%complete – and insists it will prove value for money.
He said, "In terms of what we spend annually as a country this is quite a small sum and it is going to send a message in the most positive possible way about the sort of country Britain is at the moment. We have laid on an event of this scale on time and under budget. That's a fantastic calling card for this country."
By Ben Malkin
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