Olympic legacy

The London 2012 Olympics have been described as one of the largest peacetime mobilisations ever mounted in Britain. Certainly from a transport perspective it has been exercising minds for years – both passenger transport as well as freight and logistics operators.

Hosting an estimated 500,000 visitors to the Olympic Games will cause a certain level of disruption in London – and as we have been discovering, a shift in traffic and travel patterns. One question around the legacy the Games brings is: Will these alterations and changes to ways of working be a temporary change or could any of the special measures in place be made permanent because they are desirable. Will the Olympics foster a step-change in the logistics are carried out in London and other big cities?


The Games provide opportunities to demonstrate delivery arrangements that, if operated well, could establish themselves as an efficient and welcome means of future operation.


For instance, under current planning rules, many retailers are prohibited from delivering at night. During the Games this ban will be extended to daytime hours. To mitigate this disruption, Transport for London (TfL), London Councils and London’s business community have pledged to help companies which need to make or receive deliveries outside of traditional working hours.


TfL has released an amended Code of Practice, which allows for night-time deliveries during the Olympic Games. Suppliers are hoping to use this opportunity to demonstrate just how little impact well-managed night deliveries have on local communities. Successful implementation of the new guidelines may well result in restrictions being lifted permanently.


Night-time deliveries are just one element of logistics which could be approved due to the London 2012 Games. By following TfL guidelines to Reduce, Re-route, Re-time and Revise their deliveries, many operators are discovering efficiencies that will live on long after the Games.


If night delivery can be shown to be a model that can work for everyone’s benefit and to everyone’s satisfaction then it’s up to freight operators to prove it. The Olympics are therefore an opportunity, not a threat.


The requirements for increased security and fewer deliveries during the Games could also lead to smarter operations. Take the new Westfield shopping complex in Stratford. Here, all store deliveries are delivered to a consolidation centre, and then delivered in one vehicle to the shops – one vehicle between them instead of one vehicle each. This is clearly not much more efficient, it’s also much greener too. As Graham Inglis, Chief Executive of DHL and President of the CILT for 2012-13 has said: “It’s an Olympic powered innovation that works.”