The Daily Telegraph

Trains through the night to carry mourners to the capital

Rail chiefs move to meet expected surge in demand from public flocking to pay respects to late Queen

- By Oliver Gill Chief business Correspond­ent

TRAINS are to run through the night as the public flocks to London to pay respect to Queen Elizabeth II.

Officials were last night finalising plans for extra rail services to be laid on as well-wishers descend on the capital for the late monarch’s lying in state and her funeral.

Timetables will be updated online on an operator-by-operator basis over the next 24 to 48 hours, industry figures said. This will allow more people to see Queen Elizabeth II as she lies in state in Westminste­r for four days ahead of her funeral on Monday. Not all operators will lay on additional services.

Network Rail, the taxpayer-backed owner of tracks, stations and signals, warned demand will rise steeply from tomorrow after the body is moved from Edinburgh to the Palace of Westminste­r. Sir Peter Hendy, the Network Rail chairman, urged well-wishers to check before they travel. “The transport industry is working hard to help people pay their respects in London and across the UK,” he said.

Industry sources said the Government was reluctant to provide details of extra train services amid fears it could stimulate additional demand. “The Department for Transport (DFT) is facing a bit of a dilemma,” said one source. “If anything, they want to suppress demand rather than encourage it.”

The source said there is concern among officials that rolling out a large number of train services would be “a green light for everyone to make plans [to go to London] over the next week”.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group 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

‘The DFT is facing a bit of a dilemma. If anything, they want to suppress demand rather than encourage it’

limited service will be operating through the night on some routes.”

The plans are yet to be rubberstam­ped by union bosses, however. Industrial relations have soured over the summer with trade unions in the middle of a bitter row over pay and working conditions.

One union source said: “We will be happy to help if we can.”

Officials from the DFT, Cabinet Office and Culture Department, as well as their counterpar­ts from London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office and Transport for London (TFL), “co-located” in offices across the capital over the weekend to finalise plans first outlined several years ago to ensure the transport network can cope with a surge in travellers.

The number of Tube journeys rose by 3 per cent on Saturday compared with the previous week, a signal that demand is already on the rise.

London Undergroun­d said it would not be putting on additional services but was preparing to impose some short-term safety measures such as queuing, closures and non-stop trains. Changes to the way customers enter or exit a station may also be necessary.

Parts of the London Undergroun­d were brought to a standstill yesterday morning following a power cut. Services on the Victoria and Piccadilly lines were suspended and Oxford Circus Tube station was evacuated.

The disruption continued throughout the rest of the day.

The outage was caused by the Tube switching substation­s, according to TFL sources. An internal investigat­ion has been launched by TFL to identify more details about the power outage.

Meanwhile, mourners travelling to the capital also face inflated hotel prices. Room rates in London have risen by four times for next Sunday, the night before the state funeral, according to analysis by the Press Associatio­n. At Park Plaza County Hall, close to Westminste­r Abbey, the cheapest room on Sunday night costs £1,299 compared with £269 a week later, for instance.

British Transport Police has also said it will increase its presence amid concerns of a spike in criminal behaviour at crowded railway stations.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’callaghan said there would be “a marked increase” in the number of uniformed officers across London transport hubs.

He said: “We know it’s very important that people are able to travel in the coming days as many seek to pay their respects and celebrate Her Majesty and her dedication to public service.

“We expect the rail network to become increasing­ly busy, especially at main transport hubs in London. People can expect to see a marked increase in highly visible patrols, with more officers on hand to support those travelling and to deter any criminalit­y.”

 ?? ?? ‘Judging the right moment for a joke is always tricky...’
‘Judging the right moment for a joke is always tricky...’

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