Partygoers join in a cocktail party on the London Underground on 31 May 2008, a day before the consumption of alcohol became illegal on public transport in the capital
Partygoers join in a cocktail party on the London Underground on 31 May 2008, a day before the consumption of alcohol became illegal on public transport in the capital

Alcohol on the underground: What are the laws for drinking on public transport in the UK?

Consumption of alcohol was banned on the London Underground more than a decade ago

Sabrina Barr
Sunday 21 April 2019 08:30
Comments

Despite having been banned by Transport for London (TfL) more than a decade ago, it seems that many people are unaware that drinking alcohol on public transport in the capital is not allowed.

"I have never seen a sign saying you can't drink on the London Overground! I didn't know you couldn't," Labour MP Alex Sobel recently tweeted.

While consumption of alcohol is banned on the Tube and on buses in London, are the same rules upheld across the rest of the nation?

Here's everything you need to know about the laws regarding drinking on public transport in the UK:

London

On 1 June 2008, drinking on public transport in the capital became illegal under the supervision of former London mayor Boris Johnson.

The alcohol ban came into effect on the Tube, buses, Docklands Light Railway, tram services and stations.

In addition to consuming alcoholic beverages, it's also illegal to carry open containers of alcohol on the public transport network.

"I'm determined to improve the safety and security of public transport in London and create a better environment for the millions of Londoners who rely on it," Johnson said at the time.

Carrying alcohol in closed containers is permitted.

England and Wales

On most trains in England and Wales, drinking alcohol is allowed.

However, train operators may opt to run "dry" trains, meaning passengers cannot bring alcohol on board nor consume it.

This will usually happen in the instance of a sporting event.

When an alcohol ban occurs on a train, notices will be put up informing passengers of the regulation in advance.

Various bus operators highlight their alcohol guidelines on their respective websites.

On British coach operator easyBus, passengers are not allowed to bring alcoholic beverages on board "with the intention of consuming them".

Nottingham City Transport similarly states that drinking alcohol is not permitted on the bus.

Northern Ireland

Passengers on trains and buses in northern Ireland are banned from drinking alcohol.

Translink, the northern Ireland public transport company, states in its passenger transport guide: "Please do not consume alcohol on rail or bus services within northern Ireland, except when purchased from the bar onboard the cross-border Enterprise service."

The cross-border Enterprise service runs between Dublin and Belfast.

Scotland

When travelling on ScotRail, the national train operating company in Scotland, visible alcohol is banned from 9pm until 10am the next day.

During this time period, you are allowed to carry alcohol, as long as it's kept concealed in a bag.

The sale of alcohol on ScotRail trains stops at 8.30pm.

Furthermore, if a passenger appears intoxicated to the point that they're acting in a "disorderly manner", the train company may not permit them on the train.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in