Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 20 - 39)



  20. Is that the only thing that is left then on the riverside? Is everything else complete?
  (Mr Hodson) The other major pier is the Waterloo Millennium Wheel Pier and that is being built by another agency and is under the auspices of British Airways. Now that the ferris wheel is erected, there is no reason why that pier should not be delivered in good time for the 31st December.

  21. And you are confident about that?
  (Mr Hodson) I am. If for any reason totally outside the control of London Transport that is not in place, we have a fall-back position with the existing Festival Pier and that will be used as an alternative. The other pier is the Dome Pier and that is completed and operational. The fourth pier is the existing pier at Historic Greenwich and that is currently in operation. There are no reasons to believe that that service will not be operating. The boats are being delivered, two are already being delivered and the other two will be delivered by early December for the main service from Waterloo, and the other boats, the shuttle boats, from Historic Greenwich to the Dome have either already been built or will have been constructed and finished before the 31st December.

  22. If you do not live in London and it is your first trip with your family or as a school or however you come to London, London is quite an intimidating place because of its size. Can you book all these tickets on a single website and can you pay by credit card?
  (Mr Richard Smith) What you can do if you are buying your ticket to the Dome over the `phone, you can buy a Millennium Card there and then and have it. What beyond that you would be doing, and similarly if you are coming by national rail, is you would buy a through ticket all the way, including London Transport services if necessary. There is not to my knowledge, and I do not think that NMEC have it on their website, a website which allows you to buy it there, but there are a number of either telephone or at normal station outlets ways to buy the tickets.

  23. So it is only a telephone call system anyway?
  (Mr Richard Smith) Yes.

  24. There is a website called, so you do not have any intention to make tickets available on the day so that visitors and tourists can just go and access this?
  (Mr Richard Smith) The difficulty is that you can of course do that over the web, but you still have to pick up the ticket which has the magnetic coding on it and so on, so you would have to call at a ticket office in any case. Our view has always been that it is better to be making sure that people presenting a valid ticket can buy the Millennium Card there and then at that point rather than having to pre-book and make sure you go to the right station and so forth.

  25. To what extent is the viability of the river service dependent on who owns the Dome after the Dome is finished? You have contracts which go beyond, but what is the downside if there is not enough traffic or if there is a delay in the handover of the Dome which could be three to six months and, therefore, there would be, other than a site-seeing visit, nothing to go to at the Dome, so what are the fall-back positions for the contractors there?
  (Mr Hodson) The contracts have been let for the Millennium service as specific contracts for the year of operation with the caveat that should the exhibition go beyond the 31st December 2000, then the river contract will continue until the exhibition finishes at the Dome. There are two contracts in place, as I have said already, one from Waterloo, which is the express service, and the shuttle service from Historic Greenwich. After the exhibition has been completed, other contracts will be in place which will allow the express service to go to Historic Greenwich rather than the Dome and the other service will be the shuttle service, the hopper service across the Thames which has already been inaugurated since the 1st July this year.

  26. The transport links generally to the Dome beyond the Dome, so looking again at the legacy, what happens then if there is not adequate call or if there is a delay in the handover of the Dome? What then happens to the contractual obligations?
  (Mr Richard Smith) Most of the transport links are transport links that we would be providing for people travelling from North Greenwich to use it as an underground station either going to North Greenwich and going onwards into south-east London and north Kent or vice versa, so most of the links are of that nature. I guess the one that is different from that is the Millennium Transit which is a dedicated link between Charlton and North Greenwich. What we at London Transport are looking at with all the other agencies obviously and particularly Greenwich is the scope for a much more extensive service building on that and clearly we will over the coming months be looking to see, rather than merely holding what is there in place today, whether there is a rather more extensive, what has been termed, water-front transit taking you all the way along that part of the Thames south of the river.
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) We have for some time been developing such a concept and quite a lot of pre-planning has been done.

  27. With respect to who owns the Dome beyond the Dome, as it were, in 2001 and so on, what conversations, what meetings have you had with the appropriate department to talk about transport needs and whether they fit into a more green environment or not? Are you involved with either the Government Office for London or the Cabinet Office in discussions about transport needs beyond 2000?
  (Mr Richard Smith) Yes, we are involved in that whole discussion about what should the future use be. Clearly in terms of being able to provide, as the word goes, a sustainable use of the Dome which clearly from our point of view would be to try not to have an event each weekend and nothing in between, to be providing something in the Dome that is a continuous use of a regular high level, but not excessive level of use, we are part of that debate and hopefully will help influence the decision as to quite what the use is, so the transport links we have there by public transport are the right ones for the future use of the Dome rather than potentially something that actually we would find quite difficult to meet the needs of because it is very high capacity at very short notice, so we are very much involved in that.

Mrs Golding

  28. Mr Tunnicliffe, the Committee criticised right at the beginning the name of the station. We wanted it to be called "The Dome". I understand that there are going to be little pictures all over the place to help people to know which direction they are going in. Could you tell us a bit more about that please?
  (Mr Richard Smith) It is what we have described as a way-finding system so that at all of the key interchanges, key points where people might need to be making a choice as to which mode to catch, as you say, there will be little pictures of the Dome and diagrams which direct people to make sure that they catch the Jubilee Line or whatever it might be to take them through our network very easily. It will be marked very clearly on our maps as well, but we will across the network be putting up signage in the weeks before Christmas to make sure they are there and not disrupted over Christmas to enable people to get there and very clearly to be saying, "This is the way to go".
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) Would it be useful to touch on our leaflet and our involvement with the Dome?
  (Mr Richard Smith) You will be aware that NMEC have produced their leaflet which gives the outline of the transport arrangements, and I can give you all a copy of our leaflet which sets out in much more detail the transport links to get you to the Dome. It describes the Millennium Card as well as part of that, but very much it is saying, "If you are in London, here is how to get to the Dome. Here are the key links that get you to the Dome", the timetables, if necessary, and so forth. It is something that the Dome's leaflet directs you to ask for from us and we have it available at all of our stations at the moment. In the days before the opening of the Dome we will be making it more widely available, considering how to get it into hotels and all of those kind of outlets so that people who might be considering going to the Dome who have come to London and who have not already pre-planned can see what the options are and what the public transport options particularly are.

  29. Do you not think that it would be much easier just to call the station "The Dome"?
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) No. We gave you extensive evidence last time as to why it would not be easier to do that.

  30. And how much is it going to cost to put all these pictures up?
  (Mr Richard Smith) I think the cost estimate is £50,000 as opposed to a very large number to rename it. I think it is worth saying that as well as the way-finding, we will, on all of our announcements on train, where appropriate, and on the system, be making sure that it is very clear that it is North Greenwich for the Dome, so the two will be very much linked in all of the communications we are making during the year.

Mr Maxton

  31. Can I just pick up a couple of points. How many people who have actually purchased the ticket to the Dome already have actually also purchased one of your tickets? Do you know?
  (Mr Richard Smith) I do not know the answer to that. I have to say I do not know how many people have purchased the tickets to the Dome, so it would be difficult to answer the second part of the question.

  32. So you have no idea?
  (Mr Richard Smith) I do not know, no. We do expect that a fairly high proportion will make their travel arrangement decisions rather later in the day, so we in a sense would not be surprised if relatively few at this stage are buying our ticket yet.

  33. There is a great tendency obviously for you always to see travel to the Dome as a matter for people in London travelling to the Dome, but then large numbers of people who are going to visit the Dome, if it is going to be a success, are going to be coming from elsewhere, so what are your conversations, discussions and arrangements with other transport carriers?
  (Mr Richard Smith) Very detailed in the sense that national rail is one of the major players, as are coach operators who are likely to take you all the way to the Dome and to a degree, as Denis says, the river service will be an attraction in its own right, but you will probably be getting a coach that takes you all the way and all the way back. National rail clearly we have to work with and we will have through-ticketing directly from their services to ours. The key national rail services are built into our product in terms of the Millennium Card and built into this information, so we will be working very, very closely with national rail considering whether at key stations national rail should be holding stocks of this leaflet, for example, to make sure that at Milton Keynes or beyond, you are able to know what transport is available in central London.
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) And of course extensive discussions with the NMEC themselves as to what their predictions of the source of their customers will be and how they will travel to the Dome.

  34. The Heathrow Express, not operating at the moment, I would accept, but the Heathrow Express is actually a competitor to your own line from Heathrow, but will you include the Heathrow Express in any arrangements you make in terms of ticketing?
  (Mr Richard Smith) We include it in the information, but clearly a Millennium Card at £3.50 compared to a single trip on the Heathrow Express of £10 and upwards, the Heathrow Express is unlikely to be an attractive proposition, but it is certainly part of our information about what transport is available in London, and I hope we manage to be slightly less parochial than saying, "If it is not London Transport at the bottom of the page, we will ignore it". We clearly advertise Heathrow Express as part of the network in London.
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) We have a general responsibility for transport in London. We would see the Heathrow Express not as a competitor, but as a complement to the services we provide.

  35. But you are not going to work out a ticketing arrangement which says that you can either travel by Heathrow Express or that you can travel by the Underground?
  (Mr Richard Smith) It is not a market we have seen as being sufficiently significant that it would be sensible to create a special product. The danger of having more and more special products is that you confuse people rather than actually help them and I think our view is that there will be so few people who will be choosing to travel by Heathrow Express and then on to our services to the Dome that it is better to treat it as two tickets you buy together.
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) I guess we have not put much effort into trying to persuade BAA to take £2 where they would normally take £10.

  36. No, but they may wish to have full trains and they are going to have full trains if they are going to the Dome at times when they normally would not have full trains, if we can put it that way.
  (Mr Tunnicliffe) If they were to come to us to participate in the £3.50 product, we would be delighted.

  37. So we need to talk to the company maybe about what their conversations are. One of my things is that more people will actually come to London by car than I think the company or yourselves are assuming because it is the cheapest way for my constituents to get to London as the car is the cheapest form of transport there is and nobody yet has come up with anything that is cheaper. What discussions are you having with the company and are you happy that the arrangements being made with the company in terms of parking at your stations and elsewhere are satisfactory to cover the numbers?
  (Mr Richard Smith) I guess it is almost that there are two different parts to that, as you say, being our stations generally and what happens in Greenwich and the area. I guess it is worth saying that the 35,000 visitors to the Dome is a fairly modest number in the context of London Transport's total network, so yes, there will be some stations which will be under severe pressure from people who drive to the north end of one of our lines or the east end or whatever, and clearly station car parks will be under pressure. As a consequence, we are not willing to have them advertised as part of the way to get to the Dome because we have a lot of commuters that rely on those already. Nonetheless, it will happen, that the numbers will be modest in those areas compared to our total flows and we are reasonably confident that we can cope with those. Clearly North Greenwich is a very different matter, but we are very strongly of the view that the wider area, not merely the Dome and the 100 yards around it, must be traffic-free, partly from the point of view of discouraging the use of cars, but also making sure that the bus services actually can provide the link that they need to, so we are very supportive of Greenwich's work to limit parking, limit access to that area. I am sure you are right, that day to day we will be working as the year goes on with the police and local authorities as particular areas become obvious, which nobody quite realised they would be, as access points for cars and which we collectively will need to be managing either by preventing or by coping with.

  38. Can I lastly turn to the bus services. Do you actually think that the Transit service from Greenwich will still actually start at the beginning of the year?
  (Mr Hodson) Yes, it will. The bus services are in the course of being delivered now, both the Charlton and the Greenwich service to the Dome and they are in the course of delivery. We have the stopping facilities at Charlton and they are already in place and we have come to an arrangement with the Borough of Greenwich for stand space outside Greenwich railway station, so all of those services will be in place by the 1st January.

  39. But you actually have not had them up and running yet to see how they operate? Have you done any trials at all?
  (Mr Hodson) The buses are currently being delivered and we will be able to do that in late November/early December.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 24 November 1999