How the Rugby World Cup is impacting on Newham
- Credit: Archant
With large rugby balls and brightly coloured signs adorning Stratford’s streets, it’s unlikely to have escaped your attention that the Rugby World Cup is in town.
So far, two of the five scheduled games have been played in the Olympic Stadium, with France beating Romania on Wednesday and New Zealand defeating Namibia on Thursday
Crowds of more than 50,000 attended each match in the biggest sporting event to take place in Newham since London 2012.
So just how has this influx of rugby supporters from around the world affected the borough?
For most fans, the journey to the stadium involves passing by Westfield Stratford City.
This has translated into much higher than normal footfall for the mall’s shops and restaurants.
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Director of marketing, Myf Ryan, explained that Wednesday’s 185,000 visitors was 65 per cent higher than average, with Thursday seeing 208,000 people pass through.
She said: “We are already seeing a huge boost in London from hosting the Rugby World Cup.
“The development of Stratford into a sporting hub following the London 2012 Olympics is already paying dividends for the wider area. We’ve seen huge spikes in footfall around major sporting events and we’re looking forward to the area going from strength to strength in future.”
The desire to make the Olympic Stadium a public transport-only venue has had an effect on east London’s travel network.
The evening kick-offs mean rugby fans have been passing through Stratford station at the same time as thousands of commuters.
To help, travel ambassadors are on hand to point spectators in the right direction and manage the crowd flow.
A spokesman for Transport for London (TfL) confirmed the evenings of both match days saw higher than average Oyster touches, with Wednesday being 62pc higher and Thursday 47pc higher.
Steve Griffiths, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “The six weeks of world class rugby action is now well under way, but the nature of Rugby World Cup 2015 means that busy periods will change as the tournament unfolds.”
Southeastern, which operates the high speed service that calls at Stratford International, announced it was putting on at least 11 extra trains on each of the five match days.
With thousands of fans attending each match, the Rugby World Cup requires a significant police presence.
The Met has taken part in a number of test exercises, spending more than a year preparing for the six-week tournament.
Although the number of officers policing match days is not being revealed, Supt Jo Edwards said: “This is business as usual for the Met but we will not be complacent.
“We police large numbers of sporting events and the movement of thousands of supporters around London every year.”