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Mass exodus from the office as millions descend on pubs, bars, beer gardens and Hyde Park to cheer on England

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 11/07/2018 Patrick Grafton-Green
a group of people standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Independent Print Limited

Excited football fans up and down the country have left work early with millions expected to descend on pubs, bars and beer gardens for England’s crunch World Cup match.

Roads and trains were expected to be extremely busy from 5pm ahead of the Three Lion’s first World Cup semi-final for 28 years.

Some 30,000 people are set to descend on Hyde Park alone for the biggest public screening of a football match in 22 years.

Soccer Football - World Cup - England fans watch Croatia v England - Nottingham Castle, Nottingham, Britain - July 11, 2018   England fans celebrate after their first goal during the match    Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra © Reuters Soccer Football - World Cup - England fans watch Croatia v England - Nottingham Castle, Nottingham, Britain - July 11, 2018 England fans celebrate after their first goal during the match Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Meanwhile supporters have been gathering in Moscow throughout the day before the Croatia clash at the Russian capital’s Luzhniki Stadium at 7pm.

Back in the UK, Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink urged passengers to "allow plenty of time to travel" so they do not miss the kick-off.

Virgin Trains earlier lifted all ticket restrictions to ease travel ahead of the match to allow passengers to get home.

The firm, which operates services on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Scotland, was allowing passengers to use off-peak tickets on any train out of London Euston, while cheaper Advance tickets normally tied to particular trains can be used at any time.

Soccer Football - World Cup - England fans watch Croatia v England - Brighton Beach, Brighton, Britain - July 11, 2018   England fans on the beach before the start of the match   REUTERS/Toby Melville © Reuters Soccer Football - World Cup - England fans watch Croatia v England - Brighton Beach, Brighton, Britain - July 11, 2018 England fans on the beach before the start of the match REUTERS/Toby Melville

A spokeswoman said: "We're excited that football is coming home and we want people to get home in time for tonight's game so we are lifting ticket restrictions on our services. Come on England!"

A planned strike on the Piccadilly line, which had been due to start at 9pm, has now been suspended after talks between TfL and the RMT union.

England fans around the country celebrate ahead of World Cup semi-final: Provided by Reuters

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AA president Edmund King predicted that roads would be "quieter than on Christmas Day" during the match.

He said: "We are likely to see an earlier-than-normal rush-hour from work, as, despite a 7pm kick-off, many venues screening the match get filled up hours before the game.

Soccer Football - World Cup - England fans watch Croatia v England - Churchill Arms, London, Britain - July 11, 2018   General view outside the Churchills Arms in Kensington before the match    REUTERS/Peter Nicholls © Reuters Soccer Football - World Cup - England fans watch Croatia v England - Churchill Arms, London, Britain - July 11, 2018 General view outside the Churchills Arms in Kensington before the match REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

"Rail commuters may also take earlier trains, perhaps worried about delays or staff shortages due to the match.

"Any drivers not interested in football will have the roads to themselves for at least 90 minutes from 7pm."

1966, Penalties, and Kicks to the Groin: England's Semi-Final History: Provided by Read Sport


RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said the busiest time on the roads would be between 4pm and 5pm, before they were "deserted" from 6.30pm.

He added: "We urge fans to keep calm and carry on as normally as possible, despite the obvious excitement, to make sure they get to where they need to be safely."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 11:  Football fans begin to arrive to watch England play Croatia at the Auto Trader World Cup semi-final screening in Castlefield Bowl on July 11, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. World Cup fever is building among England fans after reaching the Semi Finals of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images) © Getty MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 11: Football fans begin to arrive to watch England play Croatia at the Auto Trader World Cup semi-final screening in Castlefield Bowl on July 11, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. World Cup fever is building among England fans after reaching the Semi Finals of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Motorway traffic was expected to drop by up to a third during the match.

Highways England analysis of the country's motorways on each of England's previous World Cup games shows traffic falling by as much as 33% in the two hours after kick-off compared with the hour before the games started.

Fixtures, results, player profiles and more: Find everything you need to know about the World Cup on Bing

The Government-owned company responsible for managing England's motorways and major A roads expected the trend to continue while the Three Lions played Croatia.

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