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.
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.