Police will be deployed to stations in London and the South East to prevent all but essential journeys out of Covid-19 Tier 4.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged people only to come to train stations in areas under the toughest restrictions if they are “permitted” to travel.
It comes after huge crowds arrived at train stations in London last night, in the hours after Boris Johnson announced Tier 4 restrictions were to come into force.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said the behaviour of people trying to travel away from the capital was “totally irresponsible.”
Mr Shapps said: “It is incredibly important that people follow the guidance, stay at home and do not attempt to travel. Our focus must be stopping the spread of this virus, protecting lives and our NHS.
“If you are in Tier 4, the law means you must stay at home and you cannot stay overnight away from home. Across the rest of the country, you must stay local.”
He added: “Follow the guidance and please do not come to a station unless you are permitted to travel. Extra BTP officers are being deployed to ensure only those who need to take essential journeys can travel safely.”
Christmas Transport Tsar, Sir Peter Hendy said: “The message is clear – to combat this virus, you must follow the guidance and stay at home.
“At stations we will be deploying extra staff, announcements will make the law clear, and additional BTP officers are in place to ensure that only essential journeys take place.
“People considering driving should also stay at home or stay local. The new restrictions mean that people should not travel into or out of Tier 4 areas, and across the country you should stay local. You should play your part in tackling the spread of this virus.”
Passengers faced packed train carriages out of London as many attempted to flee the capital following the announcement of tougher coronavirus restrictions.
Travellers were told that social distancing “will not be possible” due to the volume of people on board, and those that felt “uncomfortable” should not stay on the train.
It comes after Boris Johnson made the shock announcement that large parts of eastern and south-east England, including London, would be placed under Tier 4 restrictions
Tier 4 – which is the highest possible level in England – effectively returns residents to the rules in place during the national lockdown.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference at 4pm on Saturday that the rules would come into effect at midnight.
By 7pm on Saturday evening, there were no trains available online from several London stations including Paddington, Kings Cross and Euston.
Footage online showed large crowds at St Pancras station waiting to board trains to Leeds.
Harriet Clugston said that people on board the trains had attempted to secure space for themselves, but that there was not enough room to do so.
“As expected, train is crammed,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Announcement on Tannoy says social distancing ‘will not be possible’ due to volume and to get off if you are not comfortable with that.
“People have tried to secure social distance by placing on seats but being asked to remove them by other passengers as the train is so full.”
Another woman, who did not wish to be named, said she and her partner had made the “split decision” to take their young son to her parents’ home on the coast.
“We just made the decision to leave based on the fact that my parents said come, and we couldn’t bear the thought of no fresh air and a toddler going rogue round a small flat for the foreseeable,” she said.
“We also really just felt we wanted to get the baby somewhere a bit safer with a garden, though we know a lot of people won’t have that luxury.
She added: “The grandparents are just desperately happy they’ll see their grandson.
“We obviously worry about taking something down to them, but they seem happy to take the risk.”
Izzy, 22, from Bristol, said that she wanted “the security of being home for Christmas” and that her parents had come to collect her before the restrictions came into effect.
“I have a slight nervousness that they might block the roads or something stopping me going home,” she said.
“I’m moving out of my flat so I need my dad to come and get me and he feels more comfortable doing it before Tier 4 kicks in.”