LondonUnlocked

Newslinks: Olympics Edition

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With the London Olympics only days away, the world's eyes are focussed on the Capital. We're looking in that direction too but realise that not all of our readers may be doing the same.

So, we've decided to split our normal 'newslinks' format in two - throughout the period there will be an Olympic and non-Olympic edition, one for our regular readers, and one for those who may be only be stopping by for a short while.

Enjoy the Olympic edition below...

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Our transport network, one of the oldest and most recognisable in the world, was always going to feel the strain of accommodating so many extra visitors. The media will always look for stories of it creaking under the strain, but even a brief look around London shows the time, effort and planning that has been done to direct visitors - English speaking or not - to where they need to go. The work that TfL and the Olympic organisers have done is tremendous.

If you're planning on travelling during the Games, either for them or not, we highly recommend visiting Get Ahead of the Games . It has all the information you'll need to get about.

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Getting here

Heathrow is experiencing its busiest ever days of arrivals in the run-up to the Olympics. It's good news then that the upgrade of the Heathrow Terminals 1,2 & 3 Tube station is complete then.

Over 4m extra visitors are estimated to arrive in London over the duration of the Games. For those with a smartphone, fresh off the plane and wanting to get about, TUAW has a round-up of the apps which you may want to download to help you get around.

Getting about

Seasoned Londoners and visitors alike will be glad to know that the Tube is running a late service for the duration of the Games, setting off an hour later than usual. And if you fancy travel and sightseeing at the same time, try taking the river

The BBC examines how the Olympics will affect regular commuters' schedules. Again, Get Ahead of the Games has all the information you need.

Finally, if the plethora of signs, arrows, helpers and maps hasn't helped you get where you need to be, you can now visit Get Ahead of the Games on your smartphone at many Tube stations. But for how long?

Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic Torch has arrived in London and is winding its way through each of the 33 boroughs. London2012 has the route, and TfL some useful tips on getting close to the vicinity. The location of Tube and bus relays are being kept quiet however. UPDATE 24/07/12: The Torch tubed between Wimbledon & Wimbledon Park.

The Mayor, of course, hopes that the relay will help lighten the mood of those Londoners who are concerned about the effects of the Games.

Games Lanes

"Most of them haven't even been turned on yet and they are already deeply unpopular." So says Tom Edwards in his commentary on the Games Lanes debacle. It's true that the messaging around them is confused and many Londoners simply don't know how to approach them. The Standard has even found an 'impossible' road, created by the Games restrictions.

Cabbies have staged a protest and a group of MPs have called on their use to be expanded to include cyclists. Two hour delays are reported on those lanes now operational. None of this is good news ahead of their full opening on Wednesday. UPDATE 24/07/12: A second taxi protest has taken place on Tower Bridge.

Get Ahead of the Games has a section on its site about the lanes which is worth checking out for anyone planning on travelling through London by road. It details which vehicles can use them (accredited Games vehicles and emergency services), when you should stay away (generally 6am to midnight), locations and much more. Take a look before travelling.

Strikes

Thankfully, bus workers have agreed to settle their dispute over compensation for workers affected by the Olympic Games meaning no summer strike action disrupting services during the Games.

However, thousands of Home Office staff are planning to strike on Thursday in a row over pay, jobs and other issues, threatening trouble at entry points as Border Agency and Passport Agency staff walk from their stations. The row rumbles on but Ministers make assurances that in the event of the strike going ahead there will be minimal disruption.

Meanwhile, talks continue between East Midlands Train bosses and ASLEF in an attempt to prevent a three-day strike during August on the network. We'll update when there's more news.

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That's the news for now. We'll keep the Olympic (and non-Olympic) news updated throughout and beyond the Games. Check in for more or get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions.