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Olympic Officials Fear Train Woes

September 4, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Olympic organizers have done such a good job of warning people about traffic problems that they fear commuters will overload a fragile train system.

Officials are concerned that workers will change their traveling habits too radically, putting too much pressure on trains that have been hampered by recent problems.

Paul Willoughby, a spokesman for the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority, said Olympic crowds will cause the number of passenger trips on the CityRail network to increase from the normal level of 14 million to about 34 million during the 19-day peak Olympic period.

And if commuters who have abandoned their cars are added to that total, the train system could be overwhelmed.

``The system can’t afford for this to be artificially inflated by people changing from car to train,″ Willoughby said Monday. ``Put simply, if everyone tries to travel at the same time, passenger loads will exceed train capacity and very long delays will be inevitable.″

Willoughby said that even though on-street parking will not be allowed in downtown Sydney, commercial garages will be open and cars will not be banned from the central business district.

Officials also are recommending that commuters travel before 7 a.m. or after 9:30 a.m. during the Olympic period, and that sightseers begin their trips after 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, there were some problems reported on Olympic shuttle buses at the main press center and the athletes’ village. Officials said the system is experiencing ``teething problems″ and will be fixed.

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