Highlighted in articles covering the flooding of the Central Line today is the growing apprehension that the London Underground is simply not ready to handle traffic during the Olympics. After enduring two years of line closures and delays one might expect things would be improving, but in my experience things have not changed much at all. There are a few lines that are pretty reliable, including the Piccadilly Line which I use most nights to get home, but even that line is often impacted by delays. The Circle Line is often closed on weekends for repairs yet the tracks are still so uneven at many spots on the line that you will get thrown across the carriage if you are not holding on with an iron grip.
Perhaps the TFL has been focusing on just a few lines it considers critical for the Olympics, as it claims online. Although as I use the Covent Garden station every work day, I can confirm their claim that "There is now less congestion at Covent Garden station, with more space to exit" is absurd. If the TFL considers the minor changes made to that station a major improvement passengers during the Olymnpics are doomed.
If the Diamond Jubilee was the first test of the supposedly upgraded susyem, that test did not go well. Reports of people "weeping on the platforms" do not insprie confidence, nor do headlines such as "Thousands of people heading home from Jubilee weekend affected by major Tube disruption." Four lines were disrupted over the weekend, including the Circle, Metropolitan, Jubilee and Bakerloo. Those disruptions were compounded by issues with commuter rail, which elected to run reduced weekend service even though large crowds were expected to travel to the city.
If it were only a long weekend, or even a single week, the London Underground might squeeze by, but there is no way they can go 16-plus days without major disruptions and line closures. I readily admit that the media loves to celebrate and exagerate failure. However, having lived in the city for two years relying largerly on public transport to get around, my advice to people attending the Olympics is to learn the bus routes. Even if you get stuck in traffic, at least you can look out the window and get a cellular signal.