British values: queuing

Penguins queuing in the snow
Penguins know how to queue

Ask a foreigner to describe Britain and the British and you’ll no doubt get a list that includes cold weather, rain, stiff upper lips, tea drinking and queuing. Most of these are myths and stereotypes but some have substance to them.

Paragraph 26 of Schedule 11 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 allows Transport for London to make byelaws governing all kinds of conduct on the railways under TfL’s control. This is standard stuff, railways across the country have these powers. They can, and do, create rules and laws including criminal offences that apply only to their railways.

TfL’s byelaws regulate conduct such as banning smoking and open containers of alcohol as well as potentially dangerous substances, including acid that could be used in an attack. Perhaps more surprisingly byelaw 1 regulates queuing.

“1. Queuing

(1) The Operator or an authorised person may require any person to queue in order to regulate order or safety on or near the railway.

(2) Any person directed by a notice to queue or asked to queue by an authorised person shall join the rear of the queue and obey the reasonable instructions of any authorised person regulating the queue.”

Other railways, such as Merseyside and Cross County Trains, apply similar rules regarding queuing. So, there we have it, the law in Britain enforces queuing. But, what happens if you breach a byelaw?

Let’s take byelaw 1, queuing. If you fail to queue properly when required to do so then byelaw 22(1) authorises an authorised person to take down your name and address. Rule 22(2) allows a person to be prosecuted for failing to queue properly in the magistrates’ court where the offender can be fined, currently up to £1,000.

This Christmas whether you’re in a rush to do your shopping or get to the office Christmas drinks just remember to queue!


  1. This one's great*, I use the TfL queue offence as an example when teaching Philosophy of Criminal Law and getting the seminar students to guess what the least serious criminal offence in English Law might be...

    *and by great I mean awful.


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