As London celebrates the 150th anniversary of the world’s first tube network this week, it is worth remembering it now serves a billion journeys a year, including ferrying delegates around the capital’s major venues and hotels.
A great system when it works, as it did during the Olympic Games, but when it doesn’t, as the capital’s Evening Standard newspaper said, “the malign effects are felt by businesses and the entire London economy”.
A proud heritage, but an old system and London Underground MD Mike Brown has called for an additional £12bn to pay for a gap in funding for upgrades to several stations and lines.
“As one of the most accessible cities on the planet, London is consistently voted the world’s leading business destination with over seven million business travellers visiting each year,” says Tracy Halliwell, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at the capital’s tourism board, London & Partners, is certainly confident that the investment is being made.
“Business is at the very heart of the city, and its connection to the rest of the world makes it an obvious choice for event organisers. Transport forms a major part of this choice, and the fact that London boasts an underground system that can not only claim to be the first in the world, but at the same time continues to see considerable investment to make it one of the most efficient, shows organisers that there is a long-term confidence in the network which business and event visitors can benefit from for decades to come.”
Excel London Executive Director James Rees told CN that London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway were “hugely important” to the venue’s business, bringing in up to 90 per cent of all visitors.
“During the Olympics and Paralympics Transport for London (TfL) delivered 1.5m visitors to our venue,” he said. “We applaud that effort; without the system it would not be possible for Excel to hold such events.”
Rees also revealed his Operations Manager colleague, Sophie Male, holds a formal meeting every fortnight with TfL their teams talking every day to monitor the transport service to the venue.
Olympia was certainly hit by TfL’s decision to withdraw weekday tube services to its station last year, although the West London venue has subsequently managed to negotiate some special train services for major events.
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