People have already started arriving in Rome to pay their respects to John Paul II, who died on Saturday evening and whose body will lie in state in St Peters basilica from Monday afternoon to the funeral which is expected on Thursday 7 April or Friday 8 April.

At lunchtime on Sunday 3 April the central Termini station was teeming with pilgrims with rucksacks and suitcases, obviously in readiness for a few days stay. At least two million people are expected to arrive in Rome over the coming days to pay their respects.

In order to facilitate movement in and around Rome, which has not seen such large crowds since the special millennium jubilee year in 2000, the city council has drawn up special plans for transport and accommodation.

Residents and visitors alike are being encouraged to use public transport where possible.

As of 3 April, night-time maintenance work was suspended on the metro A line connecting St Peters to the rest of the city and services will run as normal until 23.30, and until 00.00 on Sat.

Coach parks have been made available at strategic points on the outskirts of the city; from here pilgrims will be able to continue their journey to the centre by public transport.

There will be a special shuttle bus service operating between Termini station, Piazzale Flaminio and Piazzale Ostiense and the Vatican 10.00-22.00, as well as along Gregorio VII, while regular bus services between Termini and St Peters will also be boosted.

Full details, including the location of coach parks, are available on the city council website, www.comune.roma.it or on the city council hotline 060606 (operators speak English). They will also be published in local newspapers. Trenitalia, Italys rail operator, is running special services to the capital; contact the freephone number 892021 or see www.trenitalia.it.

The city is also laying on places to accommodate backpackers in the Stadio Olimpico, Circo Massimo, the Fiera di Roma in EUR and in Trastevere.

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