The Olympic Javelin Train Service
The Olympic Javelin Train service - run by Southeastern Railways and originally announced by the UK Olympic commitee as part of London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games - successfully completed its critical part in providing superfast transport across London for millions of UK Olympic games spectators. Many of those spectators saw the Javelin train ride as being an integral part of their experience of the games.
The dedicated Olympic Javelin train services - one of a number of transport initiatives that had to be completed as part of the Olympic Commitee's stipulations made at the time of awarding the Games to the UK - had been running from the start of the games on July 29th right up to the final day on August 12th.
Travellers holding special Games travelcards were allowed to use them on the Javelin train service, which ran with no pre-booking facility so everyone got an equal chance to travel in style. Prices were affordable, meaning no one needed to try and win money just to get the chance of a ride, and although the first official train service left 5 minutes late on the inaugural Olympic trip, the service ran throughout the rest of the games without further problems - completing the journey from St Pancras to the Olympic Park in Stratford in around seven minutes.
Some of the busiest days - most noticeably the expected problem day of Monday 6th August - did see build-ups of queues as anticipated. 131,000 people completed the trip on that day, with an average of 90,000 per day over the other days when the Olympic Park was in use. The result was a wait time of around 25 minutes on occasions - surprisingly light considering that 1.4 million people used the 12-car and that the London underground, overground and Docklands Railway experienced their heaviest ever passenger loads.
And from August the 29th , the Javelin gets another opportunity to prove itself as part of plans for the Paralympic games train travel services. There has been a reportedly unprecedented interest in obtaining tickets for Paralympics events, which has resulted in predictions that around 50,000 people are expected to travel on the high speed Javelin trains each day.
Paralympic Javelin Timetable
If you're one of the two million plus sports fans who already have Paralympic Games tickets to watch an event at the Olympic Park you don't really need to worry about the Javelin Train timetable. The straightforward answer to questions on Javelin train times is that Southeastern - the operators of the service - have it covered just as well as they did during the main events where the trains ran like clockwork.
In addition to the Javelin Trains running across London for the Paralympics, Southeastern laid on additional services which resulted in an increase of around one million additional seats for sports spectators and travellers to and from London.
We never saw the trains running at the frequencies enjoyed during the main Olympics events - where eight trains per hour completed the journey at peak times during the day, increasing to twelve per hour over the three hours after the last days events. However there was adequate service covering the trips between the stations at St Pancras, Stratford, and Ebbsfleet international for the duration of the Paralymics events. Late night travellers were well catered for with the last night trains leaving Paralympics stations at around 1.30am.
Transport For London did advise at the time that travellers should be aware of likely delays to services in general. In particular, the journeys between stations in East London saw heavy passenger numbers. On the underground, the Jubilee Line between Waterloo and Stratford, the Central Line between Holborn and Stratford, and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) got the highest use. It paid to avoid these between the peak travel hours of 7.30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 7pm.
But was it all plain sailing for Javelin during the Olympics?
The high speed Javelin Train had always been a central part of plans to provide exemplary transport services for the potential 800,000 spectators per day expected to attend the London Olympics. With approximately 7.7 million tickets originally available for sale and an estimated 1.5 million spectators also expected to watch the 11 day long Paralympic Games, a clean and efficient Olympic travel and transport service was always seen as being essential to ensure the smooth running of the games.
There were some heavy queues of travellers waiting to take advantage of the speedy service, and at peak times it paid to be prepared for long waits or to consider alternative forms of transport such as bus or tube. Those peak times proved - as expected - to be from 3rd August onwards.
Each train on the Javelin trip had capacity to seat 680 travellers, with a further potential for 336 standing. I make that around 1000 people per trip - you can do the maths and quickly see that although the service was always going to be popular, there were likely to be a few disappointments. In the end, a reported 1.4 million passengers used the Javelin service.
If the Javelin service didn't grab you with it's overall 30-40 minutes wait plus 7 minute journey time, there were of course alternatives....As well as the Javelin and Central Line services into Stratford you could also use the Jubilee Line into the same station, or the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) took you to West Ham from where you could walk. Walking was another option from Bromley, taking around 15 minutes on foot. Bromley is on the Hammersmith and City line.
Regarding travel provision into London itself, three stations - Stratford International, Stratford Regional and West Ham - were served by 12 lines and were billed as the three main gateways to the Games. St Pancras also played a key part acting as the main interchange station with the London Underground and various regions of the UK such as the North and the Midlands. Ebbsfleet International was the key station for visitors arriving by rail from outside the UK.
Olympic/Paralympics Javelin Train UK
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The Javelin Train - Fastest Rail Travel In The UK?
Six years have passed since the inaugural Javelin Train journey on the UK's rail network. In that time the service has become a stable and highly regarded part of Southeastern's high speed rail travel services.
These attractive dark blue liveried Japanese style bullet trains went into full passenger service in late 2009, with the 29 strong fleet whisking passengers at a maximum speed of 140mph from Ashford in Kent to London's St Pancras station in around 37 minutes.
Since their successful use on the cross London Olympic games routes during July and August of 2012, the Javelin Trains have continued to operate on the well London to Kent route. In November 2013 the service has received a boost from the UK Department For Transport, who have made an agreement that Southeastern can continue to provide the high speed travel service.
The videos above show the views of the Javelin Train models both from inside and filmed from the track.
Click here for Southeastern's current Javelin Train timetable