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London crawls back to normality

Ingrid Brown

Tuesday, August 14, 2012    

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LONDON, England — Forty-eight hours after staging what has been dubbed one of the best Olympic Games ever, trains are operating half-empty and the massive crowds which converged on the host borough of Stratford in the last 16 days have dissipated as London returns to normal.

Shops at the Westfield shopping centre, located at the entrance to the Olympic stadium, which up to Sunday were buzzing with customers, were empty and the heavily armed policemen and women around London during the Olympic Games were absent.

Also, the scores of people from various religions who spent the last two weeks handing out hundreds of pamphlets at busy spots to people attending the Olympics have packed up.

At the same time, the 70,000-strong, purple-clad volunteers, many of whom were at train stations issuing instructions over megaphones to thousands of foreigners are no more, leaving the few visitors to rely on their tube maps.

The pens and cameras of the 20,000 journalists who told the stories of the Olympics are now idle, and local media have already turned their attention to other news, many of which had taken a backseat to the coverage of the Games.

Yesterday, all roads led to the airport as thousands of athletes, volunteers and spectators left for home.

Managing director of marketing and communications at Transport for London, Vernon Everitt said during the Games the tube transported more than 60 million passengers, an increase of 30 per cent when compared to last year.

"That is more passengers than at any time in our 149-year history," Everitt said. He said the Dockland Light Railway transported more than six million passengers, an increase of over 100 per cent, compared to last year. "Again that's more passengers than ever before," he said, beaming that "traffic on our roads kept flowing and buses coped well".

Meanwhile, plans are already in high gear for London to host the Paralympics Games which runs from August 29 to September 9.

The Olympics fever is to continue with the Paralympics set to be the first sell-out in Olympic history with some 2.1 of the 2.5 million tickets already sold.

Some sites at the Olympic Village have already been closed as construction has begun to retrofit the facilities for the paralympic athletes. The Olympic site is also set to undergo a £300-million transformation into a stunning parkland and Londoners will have the chance to make their home there next year.

Accommodation for the athletes will be converted into 2,700 flats and homes, with the first set of residents set to move into the East Village at the end of next year. There will be 800 homes and a secondary school is expected to be built on the site of the basketball arena.

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