London 2012 Olympic Route Network Q&A

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The Olympic Route Network (ORN) has come into force but what does that mean for getting around London during the Games?

Olympic host cities are required to put in place a road network ensuring reliable journey times for those involved in making the Games happen.

The ORN is a wider network of restrictions but some roads also have Games Lanes for the exclusive use of officials, international media, VIPs - and emergency vehicles.

Get Ahead of the Games is a dedicated website to help visitors and Londoners make travel arrangements during London 2012.

Here are some frequently-asked questions on the issues surrounding the network.

What is the Olympic Route Network?

The ORN covers a section of UK roads (109 miles in London, 170 miles outside) linking key London 2012 venues where traffic regulations have been modified.

The route is mostly open to general traffic and clear of obstructions and roadworks.

Some 30 miles of the ORN in London include Games Lanes that are only accessible to 80,000 members of the "Games Family" - athletes, officials, sponsors, VIPs and media deemed key to the smooth running of the Games.

A Paralympic Route Network (PRN) will be in operation on a smaller scale during the Paralympics.

How does it work?

The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act of 2006 gave the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) temporary powers to develop traffic management measures to ensure a reliable traffic flow during the Games.

The ORN includes measures such as:

  • Closing side roads, except to local residents and businesses where possible
  • Banned turns to and from side roads
  • Changing traffic signal timings
  • Parking/loading suspensions
  • Some pedestrian crossing suspensions
  • Suspension of roadworks (except in emergencies)
  • Diverting 75 of London's 700 bus routes
  • Introduction of Games Lanes alongside lanes for general traffic

When is it in operation?

From two days before the Games until two days afterwards - ie between 0600 and midnight from 25 July to 14 August for the Olympics, and from 27 August to 11 September for the Paralympics.

Venue-specific routes, such as that to Wimbledon, will be discontinued when the event ends and the route is no longer required.

Where is it in operation?

Mostly in London, but also to Olympic venues such as Weymouth & Portland.

In London, the ORN connects venues including the Olympic Park, Horse Guards Parade, Wimbledon, Lord's and Wembley, so it stretches across the capital. The ORN will be roadwork-free and cover 1% of the capital's roads.

Games Lanes operate on the busiest section of the network - from Heathrow and Wembley Stadium in the north-west of the city, through central London, along the Highway in east London and out to Greenwich and the Olympic Park at Stratford.

Where is traffic expected to be busiest?

Central and east London will be particularly busy during London 2012. On the busiest days, there will be an estimated additional three million journeys in the capital as people watch the Games and attend cultural events, meaning the road and public transport networks will be much busier than usual. For information on how driving journey times in the capital are likely to be affected during the Games, use Transport for London's (TfL) planning tool.

There are day-by-day road maps on the TfL website showing the busiest areas of the road network. Organisers urge anyone planning to drive in London during the Games to use these maps to plan their journeys, as every day will be different, and it is not only central and east London that will be affected.

For example, there will be significant road closures in place in south-west London on the weekend of 28-29 July, when the cycling road races are held.

How is it enforced?

By on-street officers and CCTV cameras across the road network. Contraventions will be subject to penalty charge notices of up to £130, with a 50% discount for early payment. Abandoned, broken down or illegally-parked vehicles causing an obstruction on the ORN will be moved.

Who does it affect?

Anyone moving around central or east London during the Olympics and Paralympics should expect to be affected in some way, and road events will have an impact on areas that might otherwise not be affected.

The Olympic Games will attract nine million spectators over 16 days, with the Paralympics drawing a further two million over 11 days - all of whom are being asked to use public transport, walk or cycle.

Britain's largest peacetime logistical exercise, the Olympics is the equivalent of 26 world championships being held at the same time in 32 venues across the UK.

Who runs the Olympic Route Network?

The ORN and PRN in London will be monitored and managed by TfL's London Streets Traffic Control Centre (LSTCC).

London 2012 is the UK's largest peacetime logistics operation

Using the latest technology, and access to 1,400 closed circuit television screens across the capital, LSTCC can identify and respond to incidents on the road network and can manually control half of the city's 6,000 traffic signals to divert vehicles away from any blockages.

TfL also has a sophisticated computerised system called SCOOT that measures traffic volume at 2,350 junctions and adjusts signals to ensure a smooth flow of traffic on the ORN/PRN and across the capital.

The centre provides live traffic information to media and electronic road-side signs. LSTCC will also be able to track, in real time, the movement of Games Family vehicles on the ORN to ensure the achievement of journey times and the smooth operation of the Games themselves.

What are the Games Lanes?

The Games Lanes are located in one lane in either or both directions on key roads linking Olympic venues - they are in place on 30 miles of key London roads.

Which lane is used - offside lane, middle or nearside - will depend on the road layout.

Most are on the offside, as experiences of special lanes in previous Games have shown this is the least disruptive option.

They will be used by 80,000 members of the so-called Games family who are deemed to be critical to the successful running of the Games, including:

  • Athletes and technical officials (18,000 during Olympics/6,000 during Paralympics)
  • Media (28,000)
  • International Olympic and International Paralympic Committees
  • Games partners and guests (25,000)

Some 55,000 members of this Games Family will need transporting each day. Organisers say that, wherever possible, this will be by "mass movement" using a fleet of 1,500 coaches.

Those who travel in smaller groups or need a more flexible service will have access to a fleet of up to 4,000 BMWs - ranging from motorbikes and electric-powered Minis to diesel-powered 5-series cars.

Lanes have been marked by road markings and traffic signs.

What will restrictions be like around Olympic and Paralympic venues?

Games organisers Locog recommends spectators travel by public transport as there is no spectator parking at London 2012 venues, except for a limited number of Blue badge spaces that must be booked in advance.

There has been some concern about spectator congestion at Greenwich Park, host of the equestrian events, which has led to Games chiefs building temporary footbridges over approach roads.

What has London done to improve its transport infrastructure?

Transport for London has spent £6.5bn on extending lines and upgrading its network to keep London moving during the Games.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

Tube, DLR and London Overground services will run one hour later than usual to cater for those leaving evening events, with the last trains leaving central London and key venues at 01:30 BST.

There will be extra train services across the UK, an extra 200 buses operating in London and a Javelin train service every seven minutes between St Pancras and Stratford.

It also aims to reduce traffic in London during London 2012 by persuading businesses to stagger working hours, plan delivery times, promote home-working and staff taking alternative routes into work.

Despite all the improvements, advice and warnings, TfL accepts that at the busiest times, there will be transport delays of more than an hour in certain areas.

How will road events affect traffic?

There is a series of Games road events, beginning with the start of the torch relay leg in London on 21 July and ending with the Paralympic marathon on Sunday 9 September. These include cycle races, triathlons, marathons and the race walk, all of which are free to watch.

Most of the road events will take place in central London, but each route is different, with the cycle road races taking competitors out to Surrey and back again. The roads that will be used as the field of play and some surrounding roads will need to be closed to traffic. Drivers will be urged to avoid the area if at all possible when these events take place.

Some of the road events take place on the ORN. In these instances, an alternative ORN is used. There will be some temporary traffic management measures on the alternative ORN, although these will have less impact than the measures on the ORN and there will not be any Games Lanes on these routes.

What happens to the congestion charge during London 2012?

The congestion charge will continue to operate throughout the 2012 Games and vehicles entering the charge zone will be required to pay the fee. Games Family vehicles entering the zone to use the ORN/Games Lanes will have the charge paid by Locog.

There will not be any exemptions or discounts to vehicles in the Games Family fleet - unless they meet the requirements of current discounts or exemptions and have registered with TfL.

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