Rail operators have confirmed that a limited number of overnight trains to London will operate in coming days to allow more people to attend the Queen’s lying in state.
Network Rail said that some overnight services will run from the evening of Wednesday 14 September and train operators have announced plans for additional daytime services in coming days.
Transport chiefs have warned that there will be “unprecedented” travel demand around London as mourners travel to the capital to pay their respects. Ticket retailer Trainline said Monday saw a 53% jump in bookings to London compared with the same day last week.
As many as 750,000 people are expected to try to view the Queen’s coffin during four days of lying in state ahead of her funeral on 19 September. The huge influx of people is expected to put significant pressure on the rail network and operators are warning of last-minute changes and closures if routes become too busy.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), TfL and Network Rail have said that where possible some extra services will operate to allow more mourners to travel to the capital and have said a “very limited” number of overnight trains will be running in coming days. Engineering works will also be postponed to reduce disruption on the railways.
However, a rail industry source told the PA news agency that the extra overnight services would be limited in scope and are “not something people should be relying on”.
Timetable details for the overnight services are currently being finalised and will be announced shortly but some rail operators have already confirmed additional services.
Southeastern will operate overnight services every two hours between Wednesday 14 and Monday 19 on routes from Victoria to Dartford, Gillingham, Orpington and Ashford; Charing Cross to Orpington and Tunbridge Wells; and St Pancras International to Ashford International.
Meanwhile, Avanti West Coast said it would run up to four additional services a day in each direction between London and Manchester up to and including Friday. It is also looking at how it can add extra services on Saturday and Sunday.
TfL has already confirmed that a special service will run on the Elizabeth Line, named in honour of the Queen, on Sunday 18 September. Twelve trains per hour will operate on the central section from Paddington to Abbey Wood to provide extra transport options. The East and West sections will operate as normal.
Network Rail has said a normal service will operate on the day of the funeral, rather than a limited bank holiday timetable.
Check before travelling
The RDG said: “It is expected that we will see unprecedented travel demand in the capital, especially from Wednesday 14 September. Network Rail, the Rail Delivery Group and Transport for London (TfL) are working closely together – along with the Government and all other partners involved – to ensure that Londoners and visitors to the capital are able to get around safely and as easily as possible.”
It said it was essential that travellers planned ahead and referred to live travel information and urged people to allow plenty of extra time for their journeys.
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: "The rail industry is doing all it can to ensure people can travel to pay their respects during the period of mourning.
"Where possible we will be running some extra services and customers should check journey planners for the most up to date information.
"A very limited service will be operating through the night on some routes, people should check journey planners for details."
TfL has said that London Underground services will operate as normal during the mourning period but warned that some stations could see short-term safety measures introduced if they become too busy. These could include queuing, closures, non-stopping trains or changes to the way customers enter or exit a station, especially at stations close to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Palace.
Travellers are already being advised to avoid Green Park Tube station if possible and to use other nearby stations such as Victoria, Piccadilly Circus and St James’ Park.
TfL has also warned that road closures will mean some bus routes will be diverted, stop short of their destination or run a limited service.
Andy Byford, London’s transport commissioner, said: “At such an important and difficult time for the country, we are doing everything we can to ensure Londoners and visitors can pay their respects to Her Majesty The Queen and welcome His Majesty the King.
“ We are working with our partners to keep our city moving smoothly and to ensure that everyone who needs to get around or is planning to attend the memorial events can do so safely.
“I would urge all customers to check before they travel, using the TfL website or TfL Go app, as while we’re planning to run a normal service, there may be short notice changes and diversions as a result of the large number of people travelling and necessary road closures.”