Blog: Simon WarburtonLondon transport - Soviet style

Simon Warburton | 30 July 2010

News that London's roads will be partially closed during the Olympics in order that athletes and officials can get to the Games on time will leave residents distinctly underwhelmed.

It's not as if it's a breeze swanning around the nation's capital at the best of times but a full 2.5% of roads will be dedicated to the grandiose-sounding 'Olympic Route Network,' in a bid to ease the path of those attending the east London jamboree.

This is nothing new of course. Back in the day, Soviet dignatories would glide through Moscow in their Zil limos in dedicated central lanes, while the ever-equal comrades - if they had cars at all - slummed it in whatever road was left.

But hang about. There's been non-stop trumpeting about how green the London Olympics are going to be, sustainable this and environmental that.

There's even a so-called British 'bullet train' - which to anyone who has meandered about the UK's rail network will come as a somewhat startling concept - to whisk happy game-goers from St Pancras International rail station to the Olympic site in an eye-wateringly fast seven minutes.

So news of the Soviet-style Zil lanes comes as a bit of a surprise and you can bet anything London taxi drivers - not a breed known for sensitivity - will be fuming.

And anyway, why shouldn't athletes and officials weasel in like the rest of us. I accept taking a pole vault or javelin on the train might pose a few problems, but it would enliven the journey considerably and bring the Games closer to the people.

Over to you Boris.



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