Helping to Deliver the London 2012 Olympics

March 2015

North Star helped deliver:

  • A highly-motivated and customer aware team of Serco Docklands staff, both core and temporary.
  • Detailed and specific contingency arrangements for the management of incidents.
  • A great travel experience for Olympic spectators.

In performance delivery, the results for the 16 days of the Olympics were:

  • DLR carried over 100% more passengers than the same time in 2011.
  • DLR carried over 20% more passengers than forecast on most days.
  • DLR set new passenger records on every day of the week during the Olympics.
  • Day 7 of the Games was the busiest day, when DLR carried 500,706 passengers – 73% higher than on a typical Friday.
  • Train availability against the plan was 100% on all days.
  • Service Reliability performance averaged 99.1% – peaking at 99.95% on day 6.
  • Service Departure performance averaged at 99% – peaking at 100% on days 6 and 15.


The London transport system faced a number of challenges over the Olympic and Paralympic period and these were to be felt particularly by organisations such as DLR, which was relied upon heavily to transport spectators to and from games. Key Olympic areas such as the Olympic Park (consisting of nine venues), the Greenwich Arena and Park, the ExCel Arena and the Royal Artillery Barracks relied heavily upon DLR trains given their proximity to DLR stations.

The capacity of these Olympic venues ranged from 6,000 to 95,000 and as DLR trains run to already-busy locations such as Bank and Canary Wharf, there was an obvious strain on the existing infrastructure and a large additional staffing requirement to recruit and train. As an integral part of East London’s transport system, the DLR was required to be ready to “welcome the world” and maintain a level of service, security and safety expected by the UK public and the foreign visitors.

North Star brought a wide range of experience to this Olympic project. With extensive knowledge and experience of ‘best in class’ rail services, its consultants offered tailored and innovative operational solutions to meet the requirements of this historic and unique event.


To make a difference during the Olympic Games the DLR needed to:

  • Provide world-class reliability; to  maintain and improve upon an excellent level of performance despite the additional pressure on infrastructure that required maximum train availability and leverage of timetable opportunities to transit up to double the usual passenger numbers.
  • Be prepared to manage variations to the plan of any scale from minor disruptions to service, through to management of crises; ensuring the best response to possible incidents.
  • Provide spectators with the best customer experience through people to ensure they got to and from Olympic destinations in an informed and assured manner.


Serco Docklands required professional consultancy support to help prepare for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It relied on North Star to provide this through seven consultants over a 16-month period. As a one-off high profile event, delivery and quality were vital. North Star delivered on all of its promises with innovative approaches. Many of the outputs not only delivered a highly successful Olympic Games period for the DLR but also provided sustainable improvements. This legacy will provide a better value for money delivery of service for many years to come.

“We delivered outstanding and world class service to Olympic spectators and visitors on the Docklands Light Railway. This required extensive planning, preparation and testing. North Star was a key support organisation in the run up to the games. Their extensive knowledge added tremendous value to our Olympic Planning team and crucially to the excellent travel experience that Docklands Light Railway provided throughout the Olympic period.”
David Stretch, Managing Director, Serco Docklands


North Star received recognition for its achievements at the 2012 Light Rail Awards and was named Supplier of the Year (<€10m) for support to DLR Olympic preparedness. Serco Docklands was also named Operator of the Year.