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blog: Birmingham 2022 The Games Experience

Author: Kirsty Guttridge

It’s 2017, you’re frantically trying to get the last bits off your Christmas list and getting excited about the office Christmas party. You’re certainly not thinking about the West Midlands potentially hosting the largest multi-sport event in England since the London 2012 Olympics…except some of us were.

As a Transport Planner there aren’t many opportunities to be involved with an event as significant as the Commonwealth Games, even less opportunity to do so in your “home” region.

When it was announced on Thursday 21 December 2017 that Birmingham had been successful in its bid to host the multi-sport competition, it was a Christmas present most never expected.

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Fast-forward to late 2021 and ITP joined Transport for West Midland's (TfWM's) Commonwealth Games team providing support to the Travel Demand Management (TDM), Communications & Engagement, Public Transport, Rail Strike Contingency and Tactical Transport Facility (TTF) teams. Four of ITP’s Influencing Behaviour team were seconded to TfWM and heavily involved with Birmingham 2022. We’ve grilled them below to find out what it’s really like to work at the Games. First, let's introduce them and their roles in the Games team...

  • Kirsty Guttridge - Senior TDM Officer and TDM Operations Lead
  • Sian Fox - TDM Hub Manager
  • Charlotte Rhodes - TDM Officer
  • Stephanie Meyers - Communications & Engagement Officer
Commonwealth Games Tf WM team

What did your role(s) involve on a day-to-day basis?

Kirsty: In the run up to the Games I was a Senior TDM Officer focusing on “background demand” which is essentially anybody who would still be trying to travel across the West Midlands while the Games were happening, so people going to work, hospital, shopping etc. This involved mapping and prioritising engagement with stakeholders across nine local authority areas and engaging with businesses and intermediaries to help them plan, prepare and adapt their transport arrangements. During Games time, my role morphed into becoming a TDM Operational Lead working shifts in TfWM’s Tactical Transport Facility (TTF) using my extensive knowledge of the Games operations to help the wider TDM and comms team respond to any disruptions on the transport network.

Sian: I was one of the TDM Hub Managers, managing the TDM and communications activities during Games time. This included hourly meetings to understand the current transport situation, relaying this to the team to decide what action needed to be taken.

Steph: I worked in the Communications and Engagement team in the run up to the Games, preparing content to help spectators make informed decisions about how to travel to the Games. I worked alongside TfWM's TDM team, venue transport managers, project managers, the rail strike contingency team, and the transport communications leads the Games Organising Committee to collate the information to share with spectators.


What enticed you to work on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games?

Charlotte: The opportunity to show Birmingham and the West Midlands at its best – a region that is so modest and often discounted, it was great to show it off for what I know it to be: beautiful and bold! From a professional perspective, applying TDM principles to a global mega event, which were so pivotal at events like London 2012, was something I wanted to be a part of.

Kirsty: I’m from the West Midlands and aside from my love of football, I’m also a huge athletics fan. The thought of being able to combine my transport planning and travel demand management expertise alongside ensuring the success of a large-scale sporting event was a no brainer for me. What an opportunity!

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What element of your role were you most proud of?

Steph: It has to be seeing the record numbers of people who travelled by shuttle, tram and bike hire schemes during the Games and turning the telly on every evening to see spectators cheering on the athletes from the stands and thinking, I played a small part in helping to get them there.

Charlotte: The teamwork! It was truly impressive to see how many different teams in the TTF and on the ground worked together. Everyone knew their role, and the coordination was incredible. Personally, I am proud of the conversations we could have with those who live, work and play here. These conversations not only enabled people to go about their lives and get to work, but created solutions to ensure people could move house and get married!

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Kirsty: This is an easy one, the role I played in engaging with all of the NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups across the West Midlands region, along with private care providers. This was a vital piece of work as we had to ensure that NHS staff and private care providers could travel around with as minimal disruption. It was a challenging process but based on the feedback we received we were able to support the efficient movement of staff and supplies. A close second would have been working on the Time Trial in my home city of Wolverhampton!

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What would you say was the most challenging moment of the Games for you?

Sian: Day 1 of Games activity, arriving at 6am ready to start my first shift, everything being new and discovering how our roles all worked together across the Transport Tactical Forum, and getting into the swing of things.

Kirsty: It has to be the period just before the Games started. Although we had engaged with a large number of businesses, it's natural for some people to only start thinking about a month before. We had to ensure we treated each new request for information with the same care and time we had done to others who had been engaged with earlier, around other commitments. This was a challenging but rewarding period.

Steph: The announcement of the rail strikes created a flurry of activity working alongside several teams within TfWM and the Organising Committee to understand the potential impact on spectator travel, the contingency services that would go live and how this would be communicated to spectators, the workforce, and residents.

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What was it like working in such a large team?

Kirsty: It was a great experience, being on secondment to TfWM for the Games. I was part of a brilliant TDM team who I learnt so much from. It was also interesting to witness how our team fed into the much wider Commonwealth Games team, whether that was into the marketing and communications team, public transport team or venue teams etc.

Charlotte: Not only was it a large team within TfWM, but we worked closely with Local Authority partners for 'Get Set' events and within the TTF I worked with National Highways, National Express, National Rail, and West Midlands Police colleagues (amongst others!). I learnt a lot from them and recognised that we all bring different perspectives to the situation and this was the essence that made the TTF such a success.

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Would you work on a Games or large-scale event again?

Charlotte: I would love the opportunity to… in the meantime I am applying the principles I learnt to aspects of my TDM work at TfWM, as we seek to improve travel advice for those attending large events across the region such as football matches.

Kirsty: If it's the right role and the right place, I’d definitely do it again. It’s a crazy experience, so fast-paced and you have to mould and adapt almost daily to deal with the challenges in front of you. At the end of it all though, when you see Ozzy Osbourne closing the show with fireworks… it’s all worth it!

To find out more about the support we can provide to research, design and deliver campaigns to influence spectator, business and resident travel patterns during major events, please get in touch with Jim Bradley or visit our website.


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