TfL expects up to 1m mourners in palace area of London for Queen’s funeral

Transport bosses warn network could be overwhelmed as demand for services into capital rises by 56%

About 1 million people are expected to visit the central London area around the royal palaces for the Queen’s funeral, making it one of the busiest days ever for the capital’s transport network.

The Transport for London commissioner, Andy Byford, said there had been “huge numbers of additional passengers” using services since the Queen’s death on 8 September, but demand would “reach a climax” on Monday.

“We’re ready for probably one of the busiest days Transport for London has ever faced. It’s hard to say exactly how many additional people [will travel], but we’re preparing for potentially a million people just within the footprint of the royal palaces and Hyde Park,” Byford said.

Visitors have been warned that the network could be overwhelmed if too many people travel home directly after the funeral procession leaves Westminster shortly after noon, with transport bosses urging mourners to delay their journeys and check for travel updates.

The chair of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy said it was the biggest public transport operation since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and warned that trains would be “extremely busy”.

“We’re working closely with all train operators to run extra trains through the day and into the night,” he said.

“To help us provide the best possible experience and avoid lengthy queues at stations we’re asking people not to rush home after the funeral and the processions, but to take their time and experience London on this memorable day.”

The latest figures from Trainline show that the demand for services into London on Monday is 56% above the level recorded for the same day the previous week. Train companies including LNER and East Midlands Railway have warned that services into London will be very busy on Monday.

Passengers have been urged to check travel updates before beginning their journeys and to book a seat reservation where possible.

About 250 extra rail services will run on the day of the funeral – including some overnight trains – and Network Rail has postponed engineering work.

London stations will be open overnight to provide shelter for mourners struggling to get home, and stationary “welfare trains” will be used as waiting areas, with priority given to vulnerable and elderly visitors. All-night trains are serving only limited destinations, mostly within the M25.

People have been warned to avoid driving in parts of the city. Road closures will start to come in on the A4 and the A30 from 6am, with full closures in both directions after 10am, which are not likely to be lifted until the evening. Multiple closures on local roads along the A4 route will also be in place.

National Highways has suspended planned motorway closures across England and will deploy additional traffic officers on motorways and A-roads around London to carry out patrols, keep vehicles moving and assist the emergency services.

Three tube stations near the funeral – Westminster, St James’s Park and Hyde Park Corner – will be closed for most of Monday morning to avoid being overcrowded.

TfL warned that extra short-term safety measures may be needed at other stations including closures, queuing, non-stopping trains and changes to station entrances and exits.

Buses will be diverted and Victoria coach station will shut because of local road closures, with coach services starting to move to alternative terminuses around the capital from 4pm on Sunday.

Passengers arriving at London mainline railway stations are being advised to avoid public transport and continue their journeys on foot.

More than 100 Heathrow flights will be cancelled to prevent aircraft noise disturbing proceedings at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle. The airport said 15% of its 1,200 flights due to take off or land on Monday would be disrupted.

Flights to and from the UK’s biggest airport will be halted for half an hour on Monday to ensure the two minutes’ silence is not disrupted. Arrivals in the early afternoon will be halted to avoid planes coming in to land over the west of the capital during the procession of the Queen’s hearse, and the airport will pause take-offs later so as not to disturb the ceremonial procession to Windsor.

TfL services have been busier than usual over the weekend as visitors arrived ahead of the funeral. Tube journeys on Friday 16 September hit 3.02m, up 9% compared to the previous week, and reached 5.29m on Saturday, an increase of 8%.

London bus journeys on Friday were up 5% to 5.33m compared to the previous week, and jumped 3% on Saturday to 4.21m.


Jess Clark

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
London faces ‘unprecedented’ transport demand in run-up to Queen’s funeral
Rail groups and TfL tell travellers to expect crowded services as mourners visit Westminster Hall

Mark Sweney

12, Sep, 2022 @4:51 PM

Article image
London’s mainline railway stations to stay open through night as Queen mourned
With large numbers expected for funeral, there will be ‘welfare trains’ on platforms for vulnerable people

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

16, Sep, 2022 @11:26 AM

Article image
Extra trains planned as people head to London to mourn Queen
South Western, Southeastern and Greater Anglia among operators expected to run more late services

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

13, Sep, 2022 @4:46 PM

Article image
Rail strikes: showdown talks planned as country comes to a standstill
Unions, ministers and industry bosses to meet amid wide-scale disruption caused by only 20% of rail services running

Joe Middleton and Joanna Partridge

14, Dec, 2022 @6:07 PM

Article image
Heathrow to pause arrivals and departures during Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral
Airport will stop flights for half an hour so aircraft noise does not disrupt two minutes’ silence

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

15, Sep, 2022 @3:28 PM

Article image
Aldi and Primark among retailers closing for Queen’s funeral
Morrisons makes checkout beeps quieter and turns off PA systems as businesses pay respects

Rupert Jones and agencies

12, Sep, 2022 @5:17 PM

Article image
TfL funding deal means tube fares must rise and bus services be cut
Sadiq Khan accepts ‘far from ideal’ settlement but says it secures long-term future for transport network

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

30, Aug, 2022 @5:59 PM

Article image
‘These stations are like cathedrals’: Elizabeth line services are ready to roll
After decades of planning and overspending exposed the hubristic boasts of Crossrail bosses, it is time to marvel

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

20, May, 2022 @12:21 PM

Article image
Transport for London boss resigns after just two years in job
Andy Byford’s announcement comes after TfL boss completed ‘biggest challenge’ during Queen’s funeral

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

22, Sep, 2022 @8:39 AM

Article image
E-scooters: a tale of two cities as London and Paris plot different paths
London seems to be slowly embracing the rental scooters but in Paris the love affair with trottinettes looks over

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

31, Mar, 2023 @1:00 PM