Thank you Colin, for that introduction.
My ministerial colleague Theresa Villiers was very sorry that she could not be here today to talk about our transport plans for the Olympics.
But it is a pleasure for me to be able to take her place.
And wonderful to see so many of you here.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 Olympic Games are just 20 months away.
The excitement is already building.
And with good reason.
The last time London hosted the Olympics was just after the Second World War in 1948. Unsurprisingly, they were relatively low-key.
But the 2012 Games will be the largest international event of any kind ever held in this country…
Providing London with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase itself to the world…
Giving sport in this country a massive boost…
And - as Paul has just outlined - delivering an economic legacy for London and the UK that will be felt for decades to come.
But, as crucial as it is, delivering a successful Games isn’t just about maximising economic opportunities…
And it’s not just about building a wonderful new Olympic stadium, and state of the art venues around the country…
It is also about planning ahead so we are well prepared for the broader impact that the Games will have on London…
And in particular, ensuring that people are able to travel to and from venues, and around London, as freely and comfortably as possible.
So we are absolutely clear that a safe, reliable, accessible transport system is of pivotal importance to a successful Olympic Games.
We will need to accommodate up to 800,000 spectators each day, and 55,000 athletes, officials, and members of accredited media - as well as thousands of other people involved in staging the Games.
To get some idea of total demand, there will be around 8.8 million tickets available for 16 days of Olympic events, and another 2 million tickets for 11 days of Paralympic events.
That’s why there’s been an ambitious programme to extend and modernise our transport infrastructure in time for 2012, which David Higgins is going to talk about in a moment.
But even with these improvements, the demands placed on our transport system during the Olympics will be huge.
We need to be well prepared to ensure that the tube, rail, and road network can support non-Olympics demand - so the rest of London continues functioning as smoothly as possible.
That’s why travel advice for Business is so important.
You have told us you wanted as much time as possible to prepare.
By engaging and working with you now, we can minimise the impact on your businesses, and reduce overall ‘background’ demand for transport during the Games.
But let me be clear… this is not about stopping you working.
It’s about helping employers organise well in advance to avoid disruption, for what is a relatively short period of time.
Today you will be hearing about TAB in more detail, the tools available to you, and other ways we can help you and your businesses plan ahead…
For example, by using online information available at london2012.com to see where and when your business will be affected…… and to find advice on how you can ensure that your business runs smoothly during the Games.
Reducing general travel demand will be essential to help deal with the extra pressure on roads and transport networks.
We hope you can help us here by stopping non-essential travel, and getting people to re-time, re-route, or revise their travel plans.
So it is vital that we communicate with companies and employers right across London - so the advice can be passed on to the widest possible audience.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen.
I believe the 2012 Olympic Games belong to all of us. The whole of the UK.
They are our Games. And just as we will all benefit from hosting this global celebration, so we should all contribute to making it a success.
In particular, I think the business community has embraced the opportunities provided by the Games in spectacular fashion.
And I know you will play your part in helping us reduce demand for travel and transport over a few short weeks in the summer of 2012.
Make no mistake. The transport challenges we face will be real and significant.
Our planning needs to be spot on. And our communication needs to be spot on.
But by working together now, we can go a long way to avoiding disruption and overcrowding on our transport network…
So come July 2012, we are ready to host the greatest Olympic Games ever.
(This speech represented existing departmental policy but the words may not have been the same as those used by the Minister.)