Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tunnel Vision That Could Win Us the Games

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tunnel Vision That Could Win Us the Games

Article excerpt


RIGHT now it's just a big hole in the ground. The track is not laid, the trains are not built and there is so much dust the light turns hazy. But this tunnel could be the one thing that makes or breaks London's Olympic bid.

Today the committee judging the capital's attempt to stage the 2012 Games boarded a fleet of Land Rovers and were driven the length of the five-mile tunnel to see for themselves whether London is up to the job of ferrying thousands of athletes and millions of spectators across the city to the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Hours before the committee the Evening Standard got there first. Along with a small group of invited guests, we took the journey that could leave the group from the International Olympic Committee indelibly impressed - or wondering whether they should just give the Games to Paris.

When the track is finished (courtesy of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) and the Japanese bullet trains have arrived from Hitachi, the journey from St Pancras to Stratford on the Olympic Javelin service will take a breathtaking seven Tunnel minutes. The people behind the link call it "the fastest track event in the world".

Tunnel that us seem in little doubt.

All the 13-strong evaluation committee had to do was exercise a little imagination.

Their journey today started at Stratford, a grim concrete landscape of scaffolding and pillars.

But one day it will be a gleaming transport hub, surrounded by shops and offices and, if London gets lucky, queues of sports fans heading for the Olympic stadium.

Then into the tunnel, a grey and featureless maw that seems to drop down into the earth for ever and a day, twisting this way and that as it snakes its way underground.

To help them while away the journey - and there is only so much pleasure to be had in Today, with a convoy of eight Land Rover Discoveries instead of a superfast train, the journey took a little longer than that.

From the time our Land Rover edged forward into the mouth of the tunnel until the moment it emerged into the massive concrete canyon they call the Stratford Box it took a few seconds under 18 minutes. …

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