Paddington station closed on the busiest day ever in London

Busy station (NR)Image Network Rail

It was a very British disruption to a very British day. Of all the possible travel issues to arise on the day of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the sum of all fears was a disruption to services at Windsor, Heathrow, on the Elizabeth Line, and at London Paddington station. With astonishing bad luck, that’s exactly what happened early in the morning of Monday, 19 September.

Complete chaos ensued after overhead lines came down at Hayes and Harlington station, completely cutting off access to Paddington. Services to and from a broad swathe of locations were severed, including Heathrow, Windsor, the West of England and the South of Wales. Network Rail issued a sincere apology to the many would-be mourners unable to reach either Westminster for the funeral service nor Windsor Castle for the internment.

The damage was severe

Expectations of demands on London’s transport infrastructure were met and exceeded on Monday. The eagerness to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth led Transport for London (TfL) to urgently request visitors to complete their central London journeys on foot if possible. Those making their way to Paddington Station, or stops on the recently opened Elizabeth Line, would find that alternative conveyance was unavailable.

On Monday, London Paddington concourse was, like most commercial and retail spaces in Britain, almost abandoned (Image Network Rail)

Due to substantial damage to overhead line equipment, we are experiencing severe disruption, reported the main passenger train operator at Paddington, Great Western Railway. They anticipated the delays would continue for the rest of Monday. GWR reported that Network Rail engineers were in attendance, but the damage was severe.

Collaborated in conveying passengers

Network Rail posted several times on their social media channels, keeping passengers updated. They anticipated working through the night with the hope of restoring services by around 0900 on Tuesday. However, residual disruption is likely to remain throughout the day.

Engineers like these continued to work all night to repair the damaged equipment and restore services to London Paddington (Image Network Rail)

Other operators rallied round in attempts to get mourners to the church at Windsor on time. Principally, South Western Railway services to and from London Waterloo offered an alternative route to Windsor. Those with other business however, particularly international travellers heading for Heathrow faced a significantly longer journey, Chiltern Railways and both bus and rail services of Transport for London collaborated in conveying passengers via any reasonable route.

Ironically, in a light hearted tribute to the Queen’s much loved ‘virtual’ meeting with the iconic bear, the Monday evening movie on BBC TV was … Paddington.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

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