The London 2012 Olympics – Empty LondonAugust 2, 2012
After many weeks of being urged to Get ahead of the Games by changing our travel routes, or working at home, because of the anticipated hoards of Olympic fans descending on Londinium, I was preparing to go to work on what would’ve been the first real test of the transport planning. Monday mornings are always tricky, but my route contains the combined hot spots of the DLR system, Bank and London Bridge stations. I conceded to leaving Pie Palace half an hour earlier, but otherwise I ignored the advice to re-route my travel and prepared for battle. I’m a Londoner. I fight through the crowds on our old Victorian system. It’s what we do.
The DLR section was fairly quiet. Not so unusual at 7.30am.
I reached Bank, expecting to play the usual underground shuffle game with a bottleneck of people, but we had plenty of room to move. I went up the escalators with ease. I reached the Northern line interchange for my train to London Bridge. There was space on the platform. I reached London Bridge. It was quieter than usual. What’s going on?! We were ushered through a one-way system, created for crowd control, by the brightly coloured and smiley Games Makers.
I reached the national rail section of London Bridge. It was now 7.45am and it was really quiet. Where are all the people?
Camera crews were anticipating the big rush.
I decided to leave the station and go roaming, as I now had plenty of time before my train was due. I hadn’t been smoking anything and neither had you, I assume, dear reader, but you would’ve made a promise to yourself to lay off the midnight cheese sandwiches after seeing this:
I returned to the station to look at the departure board and found this:
There they were, a line of old school city gents in bowler hats, with small plastic toy dogs on wheels by their side. They just stood there, looking up at the departure board. The reaction of passengers arriving on the concourse ranged from looks of incredulity, to the usual London nonchalance. They then moved off in a line out of the station, slowly, dragging the toy dogs behind them.
The rest of my journey to work was easy peasy, but I heard it was going to be murder going back. I braced myself for the scrum, reaching London Bridge at 6.45pm. It’s usually rammed to the rafters. This is what I found:
There were more Games Makers than commuters on the concourse. It was even quieter on the underground. I mean, look at it.
Oh, the irony…
I was ready for a good old scrap and it didn’t come. I was so disappointed.