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Did the 7/7 bombings change London?

Hyde Park
The fifth anniversary: Unofficial ceremony for the victims of the 7 July bombings

By David Friend
BBC London 94.9

Would London ever be the same again?

It was a question asked by many in the days after the July 7th bombings.

Fifty-two people had been killed on the three trains and one bus targeted by suicide bombers. Nearly eight-hundred were injured.

James Morgan was on the Edgware Road train. He was in the next carriage along from the blast.

His memories of that morning are clear: "There was a large bang and lots of flashes. The train screeched to a halt and there were lots of sparks."

Passengers got out by walking along the Tube tunnels

He says it took some time to work out what had happened.

"Somebody came on the Tannoy and said we think there's been an electric surge in the system.

"But we could actually see, through the doors and the window, a couple of bodies lying on the track and obviously the sound of people screaming and in pain."

James wasn't injured by the blast, but the experiences of that day can still have some effect on him.

"Every now and again you get concerned and nervous that there's someone on the tube and they're holding a rucksack. They're acting slightly suspiciously and you think, well is this going to happen again?"

Making London safer

Peter Hendy is the Commissioner of Transport for London.

He believes everything has been done to make sure a repeat would be as difficult as possible: "I think our responsibility is to make sure every piece of advice we get from the police and security services we act on religiously and we do everything that we should. As I sit here now I'm very confident that has happened."

Looking ahead to the Olympic Games in 2012 Peter Hendy says he's confident London will be safe: "I don't look forward to the Olympics with any more apprehension than I would looking forward generally.

"The security services tell us what they think we should do and we do it. That's how Londoners can be confident of being well protected."

Extremes of emotion

The attacks came less than a day after London was named as the host city for the 2012 Games.

Ken Livingstone was Mayor at the time. He told BBC London 94.9, the extremes of emotion were unprecedented.

Ken Livingstone
To go from such euphoria to such pain. I can't think of anything else like that in human history
Ken Livingstone

"To go from such euphoria to such pain. I can't think of anything else like that in human history actually. Churchill in his last volume of the history of the Second World War talked about triumph and tragedy - the victory in the war but then the death of Roosevelt, the nuclear weapons and so on. But it wasn't in twenty-four hours."

July 7th was not the first time disaster befell London. But where do the attacks rank among incidents such as the Great Fire, the Blitz, the IRA bombing campaign?

Ken Livingstone believes very much lower: "Largely because the attacks totally failed. London picked itself up. There is the individual pain that the relatives of the victims will carry on with throughout the rest of their lives but it is the real, complete inability of those attacks to have an effect that is the most striking thing.

"I think the answer to your original question is: it hasn't changed London."




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