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By John McGoldrick on

They were the champions!

Olympic uniforms might seem slightly esoteric objects for a railway museum collection, but there are good reasons to acquire them.

The vast majority of our railway uniform collections represent established railway occupations, ranging from porter to station master. However, once in a while, we acquire uniforms that evoke a certain moment in time – in this case the London 2012 Olympiad.


In the period leading up to the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics it was impossible not to be aware of a certain degree of pessimism about how the railways would cope with the volume of visitors to the capital. However, it is now generally agreed that the railways rose to the massive challenges the Olympics posed.

The One Transport Team was a major part of the travel industry’s plans to cope with the demands of Olympic visitors. This involved a unified approach between Network Rail, the Train Operating Companies and other transport agencies. The human face of the team were the Travel Champions – volunteers drawn from the ranks of the transport industry who gave their time to help the smooth the flow of Games travel. Travel Champions drew upon their experience of the London transport network to deal efficiently with a huge variety of queries from visitors, many of whom were completely unfamiliar with London.

London’s railways and main stations were looking at an extra 3 million users over and above the normal 12 million daily journeys. Railway managers quickly identified effective crowd control as a key element in keeping the railways running smoothly. By acting as an immediately identifiable point of contact, Travel Champions played a crucial role in keeping Olympic visitors moving towards their chosen destinations. They were also key in minimising congestion caused by commuters mingling with visitors to the Games.

E2013.261. 1-10 Travel champion final image

Travel Champions were instantly recognisable by their uniforms which chimed with the official London Olympic brand colours. The full uniform consists of straw boater, hat, fleece, t-shirt, sweatshirt, rucksack and water bottle (pictured above). The example we have been given was worn by a female Network Rail team member.

Most of us will have fond memories of last year’s Olympics, but it can be difficult to recapture the excitement of the Games as they recede. By collecting ephemeral items like the uniforms worn by the Travel Champions, we at least have something to help bring back the memories of the glorious (at least in a sporting sense) summer of 2012 in years to come.

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