I was lucky enough to get to see a rehearsal for Friday’s Olympics opening ceremony last night. All I can say is… it’s going to be a show this city and this country can be proud of. Danny Boyle and his army of volunteers have done a fine job.
The Olympic Stadium’s incredible and the park is spectacular, although the Orbit sculpture doesn’t look any better close up. Watch out for exorbitant food and drink prices and long queues, but the motif of London 2012 may just be the good-humoured members of the military – far better ambassadors for our country than any outsourced security jokers could ever hope to be.
Also at the ceremony rehearsal were a number of Greenwich councillors – the same ones who are cutting their meeting short tonight and avoiding questions because “of the Olympics”. They were offered tickets as a “reward”, I’m told.
Heading home was a bit of a trauma, though – the Central Line being down provided an early test for London’s capability to deal with big crowds and transport troubles. Crowds were diverted towards West Ham station to pick up the District line or rail services to Fenchurch Street, but that didn’t stop a big bottleneck building up inside Westfield, on the way to Stratford station.
But I turned round, walked back through the shopping centre, and got a seat straight away on the Docklands Light Railway from Stratford International instead. (Things weren’t much fun for those waiting for the high-speed trains to St Pancras and Kent, mind.)
It dawned on me that the cable car could be a useful way to avoid he Jubilee Line crowds… except that it shut two hours earlier at 9pm (11pm during the Olympics). In the end, the Jubilee Line from Canning Town wasn’t too bad.
So, that’s your first Olympic travel pro-tip – if you’re travelling from the Olympic Park, use the DLR from Stratford International.
Which got me thinking – have you got any similar pro-tips for getting around during the Games? Obviously we face massive disruption by road and rail, but do you have any ideas for ways around it? It’s worth sharing them, particularly as the Get Ahead of the Games campaign has been lamentable, to say the least.
One thing that’s worth noting is that North Greenwich Tube isn’t due to be too busy during morning rush hours, although progress may be slow later in the day. Buses up there can be awful, though – walking will at least guarantee a stress-free trip there, if you live close enough. It’s a useful place to cycle to, as well.
It goes against TfL advice, but with patience, it may well be your best bet. And it’s not as if we’ve been left with any other option, except for ones which charge extra like the river boats or cable car.
Avoiding London Bridge station (particularly next Monday) is also a good idea, although to be honest it’s one to avoid at the best of times anyway… as for other train disruption, local buses are taking Southeastern train tickets to compensate for the loss of services around Deptford, Greenwich and Woolwich.
New Cross-bound trains on London Overground tend to be quieter than those heading to New Cross Gate, providing a decent alternative route to west Greenwich and Deptford, or to 53 and 177 buses, while it’s surprisingly quick to get a 380 bus between Lewisham station and Blackheath or Charlton – and the walk’s not bad, either.
Plus there’s trains from Victoria to Lewisham, Blackheath and Kidbrooke if you find traditional routes too much of a squeeze.
Those are all the ones I can think of. If you have a useful tip to share, feel free…
(There’s a similar thread over on Brockley Central, too.)