Pop-up coach stations keep people moving during VCS funeral closure

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £2.99.

Express coach operators Flixbus, megabus and National Express had to take action to rearrange arrival and departure points and find additional duplicate vehicles after it was announced by Transport for London that Victoria Coach Station would be closed from 2330hrs on Sunday 18 September to 0600hrs on Tuesday 20 September due to the large number of road closures in the city on the days of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

FlixBus says it saw a 20% increase in bookings for UK passengers travelling to London ahead of the funeral, with an additional increase of 15% from France and 17% from Benelux countries. The operator said it collaborated with its bus partners to ensure its coach services were available across the weekend and on the day of the funeral itself.

FlixBus said it acted quickly in response to the road closures to ensure its coaches remained in service and terminated at Hillingdon, allowing passengers to easily continue their journeys into central London via public transport. Its international services to Victoria Coach Station were diverted to and from Vauxhall bus station, while its routes to North Greenwich and Stratford were unaffected.

UK Managing Director Andreas Schorling said: “We join the country in mourning the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Understandably, hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK and around the world travelled to the capital to pay their respects. FlixBus saw a significant increase in journeys ahead of the weekend and we are proud to have played a role in supporting customers during this time, running all of our services to the city. Our thoughts remain with the royal family, the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth at this time.”

National Express said it saw unprecedented demand for travel over the period of national mourning as the public headed to London to pay their respects. The operator reported that online enquiries for travel on its London routes increased by 40% as people headed to the capital to pay their respects. The majority of seats across all of its London services were sold between Friday 9 and Monday 12 September, the company said.

A normal timetable operated but the transport operator increased capacity on London services across its network to help mourners travel to the capital to attend ceremonial and commemorative events, including the state funeral on Monday 19 September.

Tom Stables, CEO of National Express UK, explained: “A huge number of people wanted to pay their condolences in person and we worked hard to meet the additional demand for travel so they could safely get where they need to be. We operated a pop-up coach station at Wembley on the day of the state funeral and had a team in place to help customers and run around 540 coaches through the temporary location in less than 24 hours.

Megabus also posted on its website that coach services would be terminating at Hillingdon instead of Victoria Coach Station on 19 September and advised passengers to use either the London Underground’s Metropolitan or Piccadilly lines or the Oxford Tube coach service, which also serves Hillingdon, for onward travel into Central London. It added: “The whole of megabus is deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty The Queen. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Royal Family at this sad time.”