Monday, 1 November 2010

Boris to preside over the evacuation of London

Telegrammed by Cockney Sparra'
So. Boris gets London Resilience and Emergency Planning!

The disinvention of the Government Office for London has meant the transfer – curiously on Sunday 31 Oct when the threat level of a terror attack was “severe” – of London Resilience to City Hall.

This gives Boris responsibility, if the balloon goes up, for evacuation of London. He inherits a master plan, available on line, which does not make comfortable reading for the nervous.

Very old train planners and operators may recall the last minute logistics (although it wasn’t called that then) that went into evacuating London children when the blitz loomed, which didn’t go terribly well – especially at the destination stations where receiving arrangements were a bit haphazard.

But, the railway did its bit OK, providing special trains hither and yon, integrated to the underground and buses.

The lessons from that helped the Southern run almost 400 troop specials at equally short notice to get the remains of the British Expeditionary Force – 180,000 men - off the little ships and home.

Evacuating even a small area of London (pop 7,000,000+) would be a much bigger operation.

So all that learning – when most of London’s railway network was still there - would help shape an informed evacuation plan for 21st century London?

The report name checks BTP, ATOC and NR as having helped develop the plan. They are the professionals. Everything must be fine.

Er, no.

The main line railways and Underground get one page of a 47 page plan.

The relevant bit says that only normal scheduled services will operate after the Big Decision to go has been made.

No specials, no flighting of trains, no terminals identified.

No deploying the remaining charter sets, even though many of them are at Old Oak Common.

Just booked workings. Anything else is too difficult.

So, if the sky falls in and the “severe” forecast is vindicated, the frightened populace can just ring National Rail Enquiries for the next train to sanctuary, and hope they get a seat.

Londoners should offer a prayer that Boris doesn’t have to evacuate the Metropolis on a Friday evening.