German magazine knocks London’s “ancient” Underground network ahead of the Olympics

“There is little tolerance in their ancient system for everything that can and will go wrong,” writes German magazine Der Spiegel, in a piece that predicts London 2012 will be an “arduous obstacle course for everyone”.

In a piece entitled “Preview of an Olympic-sized fiasco”, the Hamburg-based publication says that a Victorian-era public transport system coupled with the gloomy weather and a frosty reception from Londoners will turn the 2012 Olympics into a logistical nightmare.

In a section dedicated to London’s public transport network, it reads:

Starting this week, the world’s biggest financial center will be gripped by a special condition usually only seen in wartime. Its 7.8 million inhabitants are about to be joined by an average of 1 million additional visitors per day. The already overloaded public-transportation system will be burdened with an additional 3 million fares per day. A total of 175 kilometers (109 miles) of the city’s streets will be closed off to normal traffic. Almost twice as many soldiers as Britain has in Afghanistan, a helicopter carrier and special forces units armed to the teeth will make the city look like it’s under siege.

Transport for London (TfL), the city’s bus and rail authority, is nervous — so nervous, in fact, that it has issued an earnest appeal to Londoners to avoid using the Underground if at all possible during the games.

TfL is urging residents to stay at home, walk, bike, rollerblade or simply go on vacation during the Summer Games. It is also begging banks to set up home workstations for their traders, hoping to dissuade them from using their usual mode of transportation, the Tube. TfL knows that the success of the Olympics will be decided in the Tube’s tunnels and stations, some built in the Victorian era, especially those on the Northern, Central and Jubilee lines.

After conducting traffic simulations for years, TfL officials believe they know what’s in store for them. But they also know that there is little tolerance in their ancient system for everything that can and will go wrong. There isn’t much wiggle room between having things go as planned and total chaos. All it takes to disrupt this delicate balance is a broken-down train, a foolish tourist, a suicide, a panic or a bomber.

By Marco Evers, Der Spiegel

4 COMMENTS

  1. And no doubt  ”
    a broken-down train, a foolish tourist, a suicide, a panic or a bomber” would also disrupt the delicate balance of the most efficient German transit system. 

  2. They’re not wrong. Quite why the title needs to state German is questionabble. The UK press did the same to all the major events around the world.

  3. “…some built in the Victorian era, especially those on the Northern, Central and Jubilee lines”

    Correct me if I’m wrong – but isn’t the oldest part of the Jubilee line the Stanmore Branch, which the Met built in 1932?

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