London transport chief Andy Byford has said this week will represent more of an organisational challenge than the Olympics as more than a million people descend on the capital for commemorations of the Queen’s life.
“The main challenge is the sheer number of people over such a prolonged period,” Byford told City A.M. today.
“But we are good at big events, we’re used to running big events, we’re well-practiced, and it doesn’t get any bigger than this,” the Transport for London Commissioner said.
TfL chiefs have been planning for the Queen’s funeral for a number of years but Byford said there were still challenges involved in dealing with government bodies and other organisations at short notice.
Brits to flock into London
The capital’s transport network is expected to be particularly stressed around stations close to the numerous ceremonial events taking place this week.
Brits are expected to flock both to Green Park throughout the rest of the week, as well as moving towards entrances to the lengthy queue to see the Queen lying in state along the south bank of the river.
Byford has visited most of the stations to thank staff and to assess the situation on the ground.
“We had the Olympics in 2012, but I actually think this is harder than the Olympics. With a sporting event you know where people are going, and you know how many people are going. With an event like this, there are more unknowns,” Byford said.
“We are determined to do our absolute best, getting people safely and respectfully to events.”
The Transport for London Commissioner paid tribute to union leaders, who have put industrial disputes aside in the past week.
“When I wrote to them and asked that they and their members give us their full support in this really historic but sad and tragic time for the country, to their great credit the general secretaries immediately offered (that) and I very much salute that act on their part.”
Londoners are being urged to check their journeys before they travel via the TfL website and the TfL Go app, as a number of road closures are in place across the centre of the capital.