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Steady progress in race for Olympics, but 1 in 5 still ‘not at all prepared’, warns FTA

With eight months to go before the opening ceremony, 26 per cent of road freight operators are still ‘not at all prepared’ for the logistical challenge posed by the 2012 Olympic Games. A survey by the Freight Transport Association shows that while progress has been made – in July, 36 per cent of respondents to FTA’s Olympics survey claimed that they were ‘not at all prepared’ – many companies are still stuck firmly on the starting blocks.

Transport operators were asked to rate their contingency plans, the provision of additional vehicles and staff, and the preparedness of their customers for managing changes to their deliveries. Over 30 per cent said that they were ‘not at all prepared’ in their plans to order extra vehicles or hire additional drivers or staff, down from 40 per cent in July. And 26 cent said that their customers – eg restaurants, shops, pubs etc – were similarly ill-prepared, down from 38 per cent in July. While this shows progress, the leading trade body argues that industry is still some way short of where it ought to be.

Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London, said:

"While progress is being made it is worrying that there are still so many businesses unprepared for the Games. This is a huge concern, not just for industry, but for anyone who wants the Games to be a success. A prolonged period of high demand – FTA is telling its members to treat the Games and the Paralympic Games like a three-month Christmas period – against the backdrop of severe delivery restrictions poses a huge challenge. But although for some forward-thinking companies the race to prepare for this enormous global event has already begun, many businesses haven’t even started warming up yet."

FTA’s survey also asked industry to indicate its level of knowledge of how the Olympic Route Network (ORN), which will effectively be closed to deliveries between 6am and midnight, and Games Lanes, which are designated roads set aside for athletes, Games officials and marketing partners only, will affect their operations. Eighteen per cent of respondents reported that they had ‘little knowledge’ and 26 per cent ‘no knowledge’ when asked how the Olympic Route Network or Games Lanes will operate. Around a fifth felt that they knew a lot about the Olympic Route Network and Games Lanes in October, compared to just a tenth in July.

Chapman said:

"Since July a large chunk of the industry still has no idea about how the Games Lanes or the ORN will affect them. Transport for London has provided postcode data to transport operators, which should help businesses plan ahead, but we would also urge companies to start thinking about other things they can do to mitigate any disruption."

Olympic preparation: 5 ways to win

1. Check your known delivery locations against the TfL postcode list available from www.tfl.gov.uk/developers (you will need to register).

2. If a postcode is affected, look at the ORN maps on the TfL website to determine how that delivery point will be restricted. Even if there are no additional restrictions to the delivery point, routing may be affected, so check your current routes against the ORN maps. (www.tfl.gov.uk/orn).

3. Talk to your customers about how their deliveries may be affected next summer. Ask for estimates of volumes. Can you deliver in a different way (Reduce, Retime, Reroute or Revise-mode)? (See www.tfl.gov.uk/2012 for more ideas).

4. Consider how you will resource your business next summer. Plan your scheduled maintenance to minimise vehicle down time during the Olympics. Consider any changes to your staff holiday policy for the Olympics. Do you need to hire in more drivers or extra vehicles?

5. Check if there are any other operating restrictions that you need to overcome. Are all the vehicles you will be using in London compliant with the new tougher Low Emission Zone standards which take effect in January? Do you need to apply for a London Lorry Control Scheme permit if you wish to operate at night or at weekends in London? Do you have environmental restrictions at any of your operating centres which will prevent you from servicing your customers at night?

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