Capital set for transport challenge over Paralympics

The Jubilee and Central lines are set to be the worst affected Photo: PA

Travel bosses have outlined plans to cope with the "huge challenge" of the Paralympic Games as London's transport network prepares for another influx of visitors.

Transport for London (TfL) has urged commuters to plan ahead and avoid travel hotspots during the Games, with traffic expected to be much heavier as schools return from their summer breaks.

Premier League football matches in the capital, BBC Proms in the Park and the Thames Festival are also expected to heap more pressure on the transport network when the Games take place from August 29 to Sunday September 9.

Despite being smaller in scale than the Olympics, the Paralympics are the second largest sporting event in the world, with 2.5 million tickets expected to be sold this year.

East London, particularly around the Olympic Park in Stratford, the ExCeL centre and Greenwich Park, will be hit with the greatest demand as this is where many of the competitions will be staged.

Up to 215,000 spectators are expected to visit the Olympic Park on most days during the Paralympics, TfL said.

London's transport commissioner Peter Hendy said: "We already know the London 2012 Paralympic Games will see the most spectators in its history, which is fantastic.

"And with the new school year beginning in the second week and larger groups expected to travel together on the public transport network, we expect these Games to hold some new and unique challenges.

"We're confident that transport will cope well during the Paralympic Games, as it did during the Olympics, provided businesses and Londoners continue to plan and change the way or time that they travel, using the tools and information available at getaheadofthegames.com."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The Paralympic Games are shaping up to be the best ever as London continues to buzz with Olympic excitement and Paralympic tickets are selling like hot cakes.

"One of the things that made the Olympic Games such a great success was the way Londoners changed the way they usually travel, arriving at work a little earlier or later to avoid the busiest times.

"I want to thank every Londoner for that, and to ask everybody to plan ahead once more, so they can get out and enjoy everything London has to offer during the Paralympics and help keep our great city moving."

Commuters have been warned they could face heavy congestion with the arrival of the Paralympic Games Torch Relay in London and the opening ceremony at the Olympic Park on August 29.

Further traffic is expected when schools return on September 3 until the final day of the Games on September 9, which will include the closing ceremony at the Olympic Park and marathon events across central London.

Team GB's Olympians and Paralympians will be honoured with a parade through the streets of the capital on September 10.

It is set to begin at Mansion House in the City of London and finish in central London.

The Games will also be screened along with live entertainment at Trafalgar Square and at Potters Field by City Hall, bringing further travel congestion.

TfL has warned that the Jubilee Line from Waterloo to Stratford, the Central Line from Holborn to Stratford and the entire Docklands Light Railway (DLR) will see the largest number of passengers during the Games, particularly between the peak hours of 7.30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 7pm.

Some key national rail stations, such as King's Cross, St Pancras, London Bridge, Paddington, Waterloo and Victoria are also expected to be busier than normal around these times.

London Underground, the DLR and London Overground will run an hour later during the Games, with the last trains leaving central London and Paralympic venues at around 1.30am.

National rail services will also operate additional services during the Games.

On the roads, a Paralympic Route Network (PRN) will be in operation, but on a smaller scale than the Olympic Route Network (ORN), TfL said.

The PRN will start to be introduced overnight on Saturday before it becomes fully operational on the first day of the Paralympics on August 29.

It will include 8.7 miles of Games Lanes on roads linking the City of London - where the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the world's media will be based - with the Olympic Park and other venues, including ExCeL, the North Greenwich Arena, Greenwich Park and Royal Artillery Barracks.

There will also be a separate games lane on the M4, which comes into force on Wednesday.

Motorists have been urged to avoid driving around the PRN routes and venues, particularly around the Olympic Park in Stratford and on the A102 approach roads north and south of the Blackwall Tunnel.

The A2, A12 and A13 routes into London are also expected to be busier than usual, particularly in the morning peak.

Ticket holders who have a Blue Badge and plan to drive to Paralympic events have been reminded they must book park-and-ride or Blue Badge parking at venues in advance.

Information on travel during the Paralympics can be found online at getaheadofthegames.com.