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.
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.
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.
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.
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.