What The Christmas Travel Shutdown Looks Like For London

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 23 months ago
What The Christmas Travel Shutdown Looks Like For London
Photo by Ian Wylie from the Londonist Flickr pool

Lo, tis fast approaching the season when you think 'ah, I'll just nip into town while it's quiet' only to discover that the transport system isn't where you left it last week. All kinds of rail engineering work are scheduled over Christmas and New Year and Transport for London isn't much better.

Here's our guide to what's (not) happening, when and where. Note: there is no public transport at all on Christmas Day, except taxis and cycle hire, and services are running with alterations between 24 December-3 January.

Airports

Urgh. If your plans involve a flight from Heathrow or Gatwick, you're in for a shock. The Gatwick Express isn't running between 25 December and 3 January, with services finishing mid evening on Christmas Eve. Southern and Thameslink trains won't go any further south than East Croydon or East Grinstead. In fact, the only way to get to or from Gatwick by train from London is from Victoria — a journey that will take 90 minutes. With only one direct train every 30 minutes, so that'll be fun for everyone. See the Thameslink website for more information.

Heathrow is slightly better, but not much. The last Heathrow Express train leaves Paddington at 8.25pm on Christmas Eve, and doesn't start running again until 29 December. Trains will then run at 30 minutes intervals 29 December to 2 January, and watch out for some early finishing times. Heathrow Connect will only run to Terminals 4 and 5 between 25-28 December, with a half hourly service between 29 December and 1 January.

London transport

The tube starts winding down at 8pm on Christmas Eve and won't be running again until Boxing Day. The Overground and TfL Rail don't start back up again until 27 December.

All Transport for London services will be free on New Year's Eve from 11.45pm until 4.30am — some stations won't operate as usual, so find out which ones on the TfL website.

Be warned: there are various engineering works planned for the Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City lines, TfL Rail and sections of the Overground during the period, so check before you travel. The congestion charge won't apply 25 December to 3 January.

Rail

Stations: Paddington is closed between 25-28 December; and Charing Cross, Waterloo East and Cannon Street stations are closed 25 December to 3 January.

Abellio Greater Anglia: no service on Boxing Day, and there's no service between Liverpool Street and Ingatestone on 27 and 28 December and 1-3 January. See the website for more information and for the general amended timetable.

C2C: at the time of writing Christmas service information is hiding on their website, but National Rail informs us there's no service on Boxing Day as well as Christmas Day.

Chiltern Railways will run an 'amended service', details of which can be downloaded from the website.

Great Western Railway: there are no trains at all on Boxing Day. Between 27 December and 3 January, trains won't call at Acton Mainline, West Ealing, Hanwell or Greenford. On 27-28 December, it's rail replacement buses only between Slough and Ealing, calling at all stations except Iver and Hanwell. Some high speed services on those dates will be diverted to Marylebone or Waterloo. See the GWR website for more information.

London Midland: no services on Boxing Day, and see the website for details of amended services to and from Euston.

Southeastern: from 8pm on Christmas Eve to 3 January, no trains will call at London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo East or Cannon Street. Trains will instead go to Victoria, Blackfriars or New Cross — some stations won't have any direct links into central London at all, so check the Southeastern website for more information. Only the high speed network operates on Boxing Day.

Southern services are affected by the same works at East Croydon that will affect Gatwick, so nothing will run south of there. See the Southern website for more information.

South West Trains run no services on Boxing Day. The work at Paddington also has a knock-on affect at Waterloo on 28 December as GWR will be running some services into the station, so check your SW train times and other alterations on the website.

Thameslink: no Boxing Day service, as seems to be par for the course. Thameslink is affected by the Gatwick engineering work (see above), and it looks like Sevenoaks services won't run north of Blackfriars between 28 December and 1 January. See the website for other service alterations.

Last Updated 22 December 2015

diamond geezer

Gatwick Airport, yes, sounds hellish. But Heathrow Airport will be simplicity itself to get to over the holidays, thanks to the Piccadilly line.

Bermondsey

how is this consistent with being a global city in a first world nation that wants to have a thriving economy? Residents of London need to come in and out of London at all times. Moreover, tourists visit at all times of the year. I do realise that there is some sort of European ideal of wanting workers to have to have some time off but a) if you are going to charge so much money for tickets then the consumer shouldn't be inconvenienced in any way at all b) I'm sure that there are quite a few workers who would rather work on christmas and then have a vacation at another time.

Robin Bray

Bus information would be really useful here, as without trains / tubes, they'll be extra-necessary!

Joanna Biddolph

What about the buses? And what does "the tube starts winding down from 8pm" mean? How will it be winding down and when are the last tube trains? This seems hastily cobbled together with a heading that doesn't match the contents. Sorry to be negative but it's not up to Londonist standards.

Kevin McCandless

Wow. I remember for years and years how Heathrow Express was open on Christmas Day (and TFL actually ran a limited bus service.) We've gone backward.