London descends into ‘absolute carnage’: Tourists, protesters and football fans swamp the city’s struggling transport and shoppers bring packed-out streets to a ‘total standstill’ after huge crowds travel to the capital in the run-up to Christmas
- Have you suffered festive travel chaos? Email: [email protected]
London descended into ‘absolute carnage’ over the weekend after its transport was swamped by tourists, protesters and football fans while shoppers brought packed streets to a ‘total standstill’.
This weekend saw pro-Palestine demonstrations, thousands of people doing last-minute Christmas shopping and hundreds of football fans stranded at stations due to issues on the rails.
And with further travel into the capital for festive tourism and expected demonstrations anticipated, the city’s readiness to hold hundreds of thousands of visitors has been called into question in a ‘holiday headache’ for Sadiq Khan.
On Saturday, the city centre chaos was amplified by the presence of tens of thousand pro-Palestine supporters who marched through the streets of the capital yet again calling on the government to back an Israel and Hamas ceasefire.
Have you suffered festive travel chaos? Email: [email protected]
London was swamped by tourists, shoppers, demonstrators and football fans this weekend
On Saturday, the city centre chaos was amplified by the presence of tens of thousand pro-Palestine supporters
A convoy of travelers rode their horses and carts through London taking in Oxford Street, Camden Town and Borough Market
There are fears the carnage on London’s streets is likely to increase as Christmas draws nearer
There was rail chaos at Kings Cross station due to issues on services leaving and approaching London
Thousands of passengers were forced to endure long and cold delays as they waited for updates
In claustrophobic scenes, a huge group of shoppers were brought to an immediate halt above a swamped Victoria line tube station
oxford street on a random saturday in december 💀🥲 #londonlife #londonstruggles #londonchristmas #londonxmas #xmasshopping #londontiktok
Multiple tube stations in the centre of the capital were temporarily closed as they couldn’t cope with the sudden influx of passengers attracted into the capital.
In claustrophobic scenes, a huge group of shoppers were brought to an immediate halt above a swamped Victoria line tube station in Oxford Circus which nobody was able to move in or out of.
The resultant blockage sparked fears of a crush and was described as ‘hell on earth’ by social media users.
At the Christmas markets such as Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, visitors at peak times reported long queues getting in and out of the venues as well as huge lines for food and attractions.
On the same day, a group of travellers rode a convoy of horse and carts through Central London with videos showing the group holding up traffic at Oxford Street, Buckingham Palace and Camden Town.
Whilst in Borough Market, it’s believed the group stopped at a pub and fed their horses hay outside the establishment as part of a social media trend called ‘The Drive.’
On Sunday, travelling football fans in the city for the highly anticipated Tottenham Hotspur versus Newcastle match were hit with transport woes after LNER were forced to cancel services from London to Edinburgh due to overhead line damage.
As a result, hundreds of fans were forced to stay overnight in expensive London hotels with some vowing they will ‘fly to London next time instead.’
Travelers making use of London’s transport network this weekend have described the situation as ‘carnage’
On services into London from Manchester yesterday, commuters reported that trains were so crowded people were standing in the aisles the entire way and that those with seat reservations were not given priority.
READ MORE: Trendy Columbia Road Market in east London axes its carols for rest of the year after ‘7,000 people’ turn up and are packed in ‘like sardines’
Meanwhile thousands of commuters were stranded in Grantham for hours last night due to line damage, with travelers forced to wait for hours in the cold for replacement buses and taxis leading some to compare British rail standards to ‘those of Cuba.’
Elsewhere, a trendy east London Christmas market has been forced to cancel its famous carol tradition for the rest of the year due to huge overcrowding.
Up to 7,000 people turned up to the last event at Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays, in Bethnal Green, with organisers saying they have axed the event for the rest of the year over fears for public safety.
Footage uploaded to TikTok of last week’s event show massive crowds enjoying the festive singalong, which saw the local vicar wheeling a piano down the street to accompany carolers.
Some who attended said they were ‘packed in like sardines’ and feared it was a ‘disaster waiting to happen’, while locals blamed the ‘dangerous’ overcrowding on the event being advertised on social media.
Shoppers in Leicester Square this weekend were crammed in like sardines
Visitors posted videos of the hoards of people, saying it was a ‘disaster waiting to happen’
Visitors posted videos of the hoards of people on the road decorated with Christmas lights
And more tourists are still set to arrive with new passenger numbers at Heathrow just 2% below pre-pandemic levels last month according to new figures.
Some 6.1 million passengers travelled through the terminals in November, the west London airport said.
That is compared with 6.2 million during the same month in 2019.
Demand for flights to North America peaked before Thanksgiving, with more than 50,000 passengers flying across the Atlantic from Heathrow on November 17, which was the last Friday before the holiday.
Diwali celebrations also sparked a surge in travel to India.
Heathrow chief executive Thomas Woldbye said: ‘For so many, holidays and cultural festivities are all about spending quality time with friends and family.
‘Last month saw passengers travelling to celebrate Thanksgiving and Diwali with their loved ones, and we are making final preparations for the Christmas getaway.
‘We need to protect these benefits of aviation in a world without carbon, which the history-making 100% Saf transatlantic flight proved is possible.
‘Now we need collaboration between industry and Government – who both have critical deliveries – to scale-up Saf production to make 100% Saf flights an everyday reality.’
Heathrow expects about 6.5 million passengers to travel through the airport this month – many of whom will continue on to London.
Commenting on the travel chaos, Sadiq Khan’s Tory rival for the position of London mayor criticised his administrations apparent lack of control.
She told MailOnline: ‘Londoners have faced nothing short of a nightmare before Christmas this weekend, with the mayor’s constant TfL blunders bringing the network to its knees.
‘Christmas chaos is the last thing we need – our city should be buzzing with shoppers and holidaymakers, and instead its queues, delays, and disruption.
‘Sadiq Khan needs to get a grip and fix this holiday headache as soon as possible; Londoners deserve much better.’
MailOnline has approached the Mayor of London and TfL for comment.
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