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Olympic transport plans criticized

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LONDON, England -- Plans for transport links to the 2012 London Olympics are vague and the agency in charge has shown no urgency in drawing up a more detailed blueprint, a British parliamentary committee said on Tuesday.

The criticism from Parliament's Transport Committee follows pressure on London Games organizers to clarify the budget for staging the event and concern over spiraling costs.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), set up to oversee the building of new venues and infrastructure for the London Olympics, published a draft transport plan last October and expects to produce a final plan this summer, the committee said.

"We are concerned to see that the plans for delivery (of most forms of transport) remain vague, and the ODA is not exhibiting any sense of urgency about producing more detailed plans," it said in a report.

Contingency plans for major systems failures during the Games -- such as power failures, security alerts or signaling problems -- were little developed.

Transport plans for the London Olympics depend heavily on rail, with 80 percent of spectators and workers expected to travel by train, it said.

"It is crucial that the transport systems put into place are robust enough to allow for major failures in parts of the system without the entire system collapsing," the report said.

The ODA's plans assume that traffic in London during the 2012 Olympics will fall by eight percent due to the summer holidays and by a further eight percent as people leave London because of the Olympics.

Speculative

These assumptions were highly speculative and posed a "significant risk" to the Olympics transport plan, the committee said.

Plans must be able to cope with the Olympics traffic in addition to the normal seasonal traffic in London, it said.

The committee urged the ODA to come up with plans to use London's waterways more effectively to transport passengers and staff to the Games.

It accused the ODA of failing to put enough importance on providing a legacy of transport improvements for London once the Games are over.

The ODA's director of transport Hugh Sumner played down the concern, saying it was unprecedented to have the Transport Plan ready six years before the Games.

"We have hit every one of our milestones to date," he said in a statement.

"We are not complacent, of course there will be challenges ahead, but we have no doubt we will deliver a world class transport system for the Games."

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said last year that the budget for building the infrastructure had risen by £900 million ($1.76 billion) to £3.3 billion, but some media reports now put the cost at £9 billion.


story.jowell.gi.jpg

Olympics Minister Jowell has said that the infrastructure budget had risen by $1.76m.

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