BRITISH Transport Police (BTP) is issuing advice to Sunderland fans as they ‘look forward’ to welcoming supporters on Cup Final day.
Officers say they are working with the rail industry to make sure fans and other passengers have a safe journey in and out of London, and to Wembley Stadium on March 2.
In total around 40,000 fans are expected to make their way to Wembley in North London to watch the game on Sunday March 2, with a significant number of them using trains to reach the venue for the 2pm kick-off.
British Transport Police Chief Inspector Derek O’Mara, said: “Sunday promises to be a great day for Sunderland fans and our officers will be helping everyone to enjoy it, as well as ensuring everyone travels to and from the game safely.
“Match days are special days for football supporters, with a buzz of excitement at train stations and on board services – even more so on big occasions such as this.
“Trains to and from London from the North East are expected to be exceptionally busy on Saturday and Sunday. The majority of services are now fully booked with all seats reserved.
“I’m sure supporters will enjoy the occasion on Sunday, and continue to represent the club in a positive manner. We’ve built a really good relationship with the Sunderland fans over the past few seasons, having travelled with them on some memorable away days.”
BTP officers will be at stations and on board trains alongside travelling fans on the way to and from London, to answer any questions passengers may have and to provide up-to-the-minute information and general safety and travel advice.
Police say all fans should be aware of the following travel advice and information provided by train operators.
East Coast Trains
East Coast trains will be running Dry Trains i.e. Alcohol cannot be bought, carried or consumed on board as follows -
Saturday 1st March: All trains from Newcastle to Kings Cross will be dry trains
On Sunday 2nd March: Departures starting with the 07:30 up to and including the 08:55 departure from Newcastle will be deemed dry trains.
From London returning north East Coast’s first ‘dry’ service will be the 17:12 departure, and the restriction will apply up to and including the 21:45 departure.
Grand central trains
Sunday 2 March : All services North post-match.will be deemed dry trains, Alcohol cannot be bought, carried or consumed on board
Sunday 2 March: Tyne & Wear Metro services between South Hylton, Sunderland and Newcastle will run until 9:00am only due to Network Rail engineering works. A replacement bus service will run instead of trains after 9am calling at all stations between South Hylton and Heworth. Fans are advised to travel on Metro before 8:30am for connections at Newcastle Central, and allow extra time for their journey on the replacement bus service later in the day.
Supporters are also reminded that Transport for London operates a strict no alcohol policy on all London Underground services, at all times and drinking from or carrying of open containers of alcohol is banned
“Fans should not be concerned to see increased numbers of officers at stations and on the services to and from London over the weekend,” said CI O’Mara.
“Trains can become extremely busy during major sporting events such as this and we would urge fans to consider other passengers at all times. The trains to and from London will not only have fans travelling to and from the game but also regular travellers who may not be used to travelling football fans in such large numbers. We are asking fans to keep this in mind when travelling and to moderate their language and behaviour.
“The vast majority of Sunderland fans are a credit to their club and enjoy supporting their team in good spirits, and we look forward to again welcoming them on to the rail network for this historic game on Sunday.
“However, if there is a small minority of fans who are intent on causing trouble and disorder, they can be assured that they will be dealt with robustly.
“The most important thing is that fans enjoy the occasion and have a great day out. We’re looking forward to working closely with the club and its supporters to ensure this happens.”
BTP’s tips for football fans:
Trains will be extremely busy
Allow plenty of time for getting to and from the game as there will be long queues for trains
Remember alcohol may not be allowed on your train service, and that you are not allowed to consume alcohol on the Underground.
Don’t leave it till the last minute to go from your meeting place to the stadium
Enjoy the game and have a great day out