Paralympic travel pressures

Train
Photo: ITV Meridian

Rail operators in the South are warning of more queues and busy trains for thousands of passengers during the Paralympic Games. The pinch point will come next week when visitors to the Games clash with the big return to work after the summer break.

Rail companies fear it could be a much worse situation than during the Olympics earlier this month because most people took time off or didn't travel. Train companies say they expect most people will have no option but to return to work next week and schools will also be back. Hundreds of thousands of extra seats will be provided with more late night trains. Passengers will find some trains have been re-timed and should check with National Rail Enquiries or the local train operator. Here's the latest information and travel advice from the rail companies in the our region:

CHILTERN RAILWAYS

To meet the increase in demand, we have made significant changes to our timetable. There will be approximately 52,000 additional seats over the Games to make sure our passengers have as comfortable journey as possible. There will be additional late night services operating every day.

We will be adding carriages to off peak services and running a special early morning Games service on Sundays for passengers travelling to the Games. We anticipate that all of our trains to London Marylebone will be busy in the morning period and particularly the 0540 from Warwick Parkway, 0546 from Birmingham Moor Street, 0610 from Kidderminster and 0619 from Birmingham Moor Street. This is due to the fact that the Paralympics coincide with business travellers and commuters returning to work after the summer holiday.

Passengers should plan their journeys in advance and check our website for up to date travel information. Our services are likely to be busy across the line, especially between 0700 and 1000 and 1600 and 1900 on weekdays. We recommend that passengers travelling to the Games avoid the first super off peak trains in both directions (0955 from Birmingham Moor Street and the 1915 from London Marylebone) as these services may be busier than usual.

SOUTH WEST TRAINS

Over 7 million seats will be available throughout the Paralympic Games. Passengers are advised to pre-book group travel and assistance using dedicated travel teams. Extra staff will be on hand at stations to help passengers. South West Trains will be providing more than 400,000 extra seats throughout the Paralympic Games, and many late night services from London Waterloo have been re-timed to depart later than usual. Additional customer service and management staff will be on hand to provide extra assistance to passengers. Passengers with special mobility requirements or passengers travelling in large groupsare advised to pre-book assistance and travel using South West Trains'dedicated Assisted Travel and Group Travel Teams.

Jake Kelly, Customer Service Director for South West Trains, said: "With the Paralympic Games widely anticipated to be the best ever, we're certain that many people will take the opportunityto be part of this great event.

"We'll be providing more than 400,000 extra seats throughout these Games and many of our evening services will run later than normal to help spectators return home after events.

"There are still some great value tickets available for people to buy and we'd urge anybody planning to travel during the Paralympics to book ahead and take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

"As with the Olympic Games, we'll have extra staff on hand to help passengers with any assistance they need, but we would strongly advise that people travelling in large groups or passengers with special mobility requirements use our dedicated Assisted Travel Team to pre-book their travel with us."


FIRST GREAT WESTERN

Four extra late night/early morning trains will take people home after the opening ceremony from Paddington. We are running over 20,000 extra seats out of Paddington over the course of the week and 15,000 extra seats into Paddington. Almost 30,000 extra seats in Slough - for Eton Dorney and 28,000 extra seats on the Windsor branch line - over the course of the week.


SOUTHEASTERN

Southeastern has announced that additional train services will operate for the Paralympics following an increase in event ticket sales for the Games. The total extra trains account for around 1 million additional seats for spectators and regular passengers travelling to and from London during the Games period.

With around 20 per cent more people travelling, services are expected to again be very busy and at some locations customers can expect to queue before boarding trains.

Vince Lucas, service delivery director for Southeastern said: "Following our experience of the numbers of people travelling during the Olympics and the popularity of the Javelin service in particular, we've reviewed our timetable and will now be running more train services for the Paralympics.

"We'll be providing more early morning and late night Javelin services to and from the Olympic Park over and above our planned Paralympic timetable. We're also strengthening our metro services for spectators travelling to events at Greenwich Park with extra weekend services and longer trains.

"Our plans and preparation worked well during the Olympic Games. We had around 1000 extra staff on-hand at stations and engineering crews on standby to respond to issues quickly. We will have the same structure in place for the Paralympics.

The Javelin service will provide:

  • Up to eight trains an hour between St Pancras, Stratford and Ebbsfleet International stations

  • The first service will commence at 0530 and will continue throughout the day until approximately 0230

*SOUTHERN *

To meet additional demand during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Southern will be running additional late night services from London Victoria to East Croydon, Three Bridges, Worthing, Eastbourne, Gatwick Airport and Brighton, and to increase capacity, is adding carriages to many off-peak services. Chris Burchell, Southern's Managing Director said: "Ticket sales for the Paralympics have been unprecedented with a sell-out at the Olympic Park and other London venues expected. We've put as much planning into our preparation for the Paralympics as we did for the Olympic Games and we look forward to giving our passengers another excellent service."

Southern has used data provided by the Olympic Delivery Authority which provides postcode information from ticket sales to plan the service changes. Extra Southern staff and Southern volunteers will also be available to help at the busiest stations throughout the Games period.Southern's review of train capacity during the Olympic Games has shown that it won't be necessary to apply the extended Olympic Games cycle policy for the Paralympic Games. During the Paralympics, non-folding cycles will be permitted on any Southern service except on trains travelling towards either London or Brighton which are due to arrive between 07:00 and 10:00 and trains leaving either London or Brighton between 16:00 and 19:00.

Customers can get advice regarding travelling by public transport to and from Paralympic Games venues from our website****.


C2C

National Express train operator c2c will provide more than 500,000 extra seats for passengers during the Paralympics. The extra seats will increase capacity by 35%, and includes:

  • Over 27,500 extra seats each weekday of the Games, by doubling the length of all trains in the evening and at night and running additional trains and special shuttle services

  • At least three additional train services every day late at night from Fenchurch Street and West Ham to Essex to help people get home after services normally finish

  • Longer trains at weekends with all services doubled to eight carriages in length, rather than the usual four carriages

  • Additional Sunday trains between Grays and Barking via Rainham to provide a service that begins earlier and finishes later to help visitors get to and from the Olympic Park

  • Shuttle services running between West Ham and Fenchurch Street after the Olympic Park closes, to help transport passengers into central London and on to connecting services.

c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: "c2c had a very successful first round of the Games, but the challenge during the Paralympics will be different. We have concentrated our extra capacity on the evenings as this is the time when we can expect most additional demand, but all our customers should be aware of the Paralympics and the potential impact it may have on their journeys."

c2c's daily guide for passengers provides details for those looking to travel at different times of day during the Games. Full details and the timetables for the duration of the Paralympics.