Night trains to carry mourners to London for Queen Elizabeth's funeral

Special departures to London are planned on a number of routes, with timetables to be updated as soon as possible. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - Extra trains including overnight services are being organised to take thousands of mourners to London as Queen Elizabeth II lies in state ahead of her funeral next Monday.

The Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train operating companies, said on Tuesday that special departures to the capital are planned on a number of routes, with timetables to be updated as soon as possible.

The additional operations are aimed at smoothing journeys as people converge on the Palace of Westminster, where the Queen's coffin will be visible 24 hours a day from 5 pm on Wednesday until 6.30 am on Monday, after which a state funeral will take place.

The government says very long queues are to be expected, possibly extending overnight.

The influx of mourners has led to a surge in hotel bookings, with average prices for this weekend 30 per cent higher than for the same period in 2019.

Air fares to London from more-distant UK cities have also climbed.

"The rail industry is doing all it can to ensure people can travel to pay their respects during the period of mourning," the Rail Delivery Group said.

"Where possible we will be running some extra services and customers should check journey planners for the most up-to-date information."

Commuter service Southeastern will run trains between the capital and the county of Kent every two hours through the night from Wednesday until Monday, linking London Victoria and St Pancras International with locations as distant as Ashford, and Charing Cross with Orpington and Tunbridge Wells.

South Western Railway will provide a service from Ascot to London Waterloo at 2 am each night of the Queen's lying in state.

LNER, which runs expresses on Britain's East Coast Main Line, said train operators are working with Transport for London and track and station owner Network Rail Ltd. to provide as many seats and frequencies as possible.

Tickets on the West Coast line linking Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester with London may be particularly hard to come by given a reduced service as train drivers decline to work overtime amid a dispute over pay.

The price of flights into London from Northern Ireland and Scotland has surged for the day of the funeral, with fares jumping almost 40 per cent from Belfast and also spiking for trips from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

TfL will run a special service on the new Elizabeth line, which crosses the capital from east to west, with 12 trains per hour on the central section on Sunday. The agency hasn't confirmed any extra Night Tube services beyond the usual Friday and Saturday operations on a limited number of lines.

For some vacationers, the state funeral portends disruption.

Center Parcs, an operator of resort villages, initially said it would close its facilities on Monday "as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment."

After an outcry from customers the firm said people already on site would be allowed to continue their stay, minus facilities. New arrivals still won't be permitted until Tuesday. BLOOMBERG

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.