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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 11:37 GMT

UK Politics

Minister confronts dome travel worries

The dome may be finished by 2000, but will travel links?

The route intended for millions of visitors to the Millennium Dome at Greenwich is being scrutinised by a parliamentary committee.

The BBC's Mike Thomson: Alternative forms of transport to the Jubilee Line are problematic
Transport Minister Glenda Jackson is appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to answer questions on how people will be able to reach the site.

There have been mounting concerns about how the expected 12 million visitors will reach the dome.

Problems with the 10-mile extension to the Jubilee Underground line - intended to carry around half of those visiting the dome - has led to fears that part of it may not be ready in time.

Ms Jackson told the committee contingency plans were being drawn up in case the Jubilee Line extension was not completed in time although opening the extension in time was a top priority.

She said: "It is impossible not to have in place contingency arrangements."

Committee member Michael Fabricant expressed concern about congestion around the area.

The minister said it would not be possible to access the dome by car because of parking restrictions and everyone involved in the dome would promote travel by public transport.

Mr Fabricant said it might be cheaper for a whole family to travel by car and park in nearby suburbs and "hack their way" through to the dome.

Ms Jackson responded by saying companies involved were being pressured to name prices for through tickets which included transport and entry to the site.

She said there would be a concerted advertising campaign to publicise the fact access would not be possible to arrive by private car.

The minister also told the committee that VIP parking at the site had been scrapped.

Greenwich Council's Director of Development David McCollum is in charge of drawing up contingency plans if the work is not finished in time.

[ image: The Jubilee line extension has taken years longer than planned]
The Jubilee line extension has taken years longer than planned
He said: "I don't want to sound alarmist but clearly we would be neglecting our duty if we didn't think 'What if for a whole range of reasons the Jubilee Line wouldn't be working?'"

The solution could be using local bus and rail services as well as the River Thames, he said.

But thousands of visitors could use their own cars to reach the dome, thereby adding to London's already over crowded roads.

Reginald Harman of the Chartered Institute of Transport said: "There's no doubt that a fair proportion of people will be happiest trying to drive.

"That may be extenuated by the fact that we don't have an integrated public transport network like other countries have enjoyed, such as Disneyland in France.

"I can't help feeling that for a lot of people it will be go by car or don't go."

But even if people take London's Underground to the dome there are doubts it crowded rush hour tubes will be able to take the strain of an extra 35,000 travellers.

One rail expert told the Today programme people coming home from the Dome would be return home roughly the same time as commuters returning home from the office.

Roger Ford said: "It certainly is going to put a lot more stress on London's already stressed public transport system."

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