Wednesday, September 28, 2022

London faces ‘unprecedented travel demand’ for farewell to queen

The cheapest room in one of the closest hotels to Westminster Abbey costs £1,299 ($1,520) compared with £269 seven days later.

• September 12, 2022
Queen Elizabeth II

London will experience “unprecedented travel demand” in the coming days as people visit the capital to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, transport bosses have warned.

Public transport users are being advised that the city will be “exceptionally busy” and they should expect Tube stations to temporarily close to avoid overcrowding.

A joint statement by Network Rail, Transport for London (TfL), and industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said planning journeys in advance using the latest information “will be essential.”

“As Her Majesty’s coffin travels to London to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster, it is expected that we will see unprecedented travel demand in the capital, especially from Wednesday, September 14.

“Transport providers have well-developed plans with extra staff and services coming on-stream to help people get to where they need to be,” the organisations said.

London Underground passengers are urged to avoid Green Park station “if possible” due to “high numbers of customers passing through.”

It is the nearest station to Buckingham Palace, but other nearby options include Victoria, Piccadilly Circus and St James’ Park.

A special service will run on the Elizabeth line railway between London’s Paddington and Abbey Wood on Sunday to ease the pressure on other parts of the transport network.

Network Rail chairman Peter Hendy said, “The transport industry is working hard to help people pay their respects in London and across the United Kingdom, please make sure you check before you travel as we expect the road and transport networks to be busy.”

London’s transport commissioner Andy Byford 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.”

People planning to visit London for the queen’s funeral also face soaring hotel bills.

Analysis by the PA news agency found that hotel prices are up to four times higher on Sunday – the night before the funeral – compared with a week later.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the streets of the capital during the funeral at Westminster Abbey.

Many visitors travelling long distances will need to spend the night before in a hotel as the service begins at 11:00 a.m. (1000 GMT).

But the cheapest room at Park Plaza County Hall – one of the closest hotels to Westminster Abbey – on Sunday night costs £1,299 ($1,520) compared with £269 seven days later.

Crowne Plaza London Albert Embankment is charging £708 on the eve of the funeral. That is nearly three times more than on Sunday, September 25, when the price is £244.

Rooms at Novotel London Waterloo cost £490 on Sunday and £241 a week later.

Many hotels near Westminster Abbey owned by lower-priced chains, such as Premier Inn and Travelodge, are fully booked for Sunday night.

Premier Inn has no rooms left at several of its sites, including London County Hall, London Waterloo (Westminster Bridge) and London Victoria.

The nearest location with availability is London Leicester Square, 1.2 miles from Westminster Abbey. Rooms cost £235 on Sunday, compared with £160 a week later.

(PA Media/dpa/NAN) 

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