Christmas Transport In London: What's Running, What's Closed, And What About Those Strikes?

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 6 months ago
Christmas Transport In London: What's Running, What's Closed, And What About Those Strikes?
A glowing Underground roundel, with a Christmas tree illuminated behind it
Find out all you need to know about transport in London over Christmas and New Year below. Image: Shutterstock

Heading into, out of, or around London over Christmas?

Wondering which trains run between Christmas and New Year?

Do London buses run on Christmas Day?

Find out all you need to know about transport in London over Christmas and New Year below. Bear in mind that services may shut down early on Christmas Eve — always check your specific service before your travel.

The below information is correct at time of writing, but is likely to change with strikes being announced and cancelled all over the place, so do check directly with your transport operator before you set off.

Christmas train strikes: what's affected, and when?

The concourse at Liverpool Street station, with people moving about and waiting for trains
Major changes at Liverpool Street between Christmas and New Year - details below. Photo: Matt Brown

A series of strikes are planned by the RMT union in December and January. On 5 December, it was announced that further strike action would take place between 6pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on 27 December.

Though that sounds like a whole lot of striking, it shouldn't change too much: train services wind down early on Christmas Eve anyway, and there are no trains on Christmas Day, and very few on Boxing Day. So what it basically means is that you want to try to finish your journey before 6pm on Christmas Eve (not always possible for people working that day, unfortunately), and things might start up a little later on Tuesday 27 December.

The RMT have repeatedly said that the strike action on these dates will affect engineering work, not public train services... though presumably any delays to engineering work will result in that work being postponed to future dates, affecting services further down the line.

Furthermore, the RMT is enforcing an overtime ban between 18 December and 2 January, meaning its members cannot do any overtime during this period. The exact effect this will have is unknown, but it does mean that train operating companies are likely to be left understaffed, which could result in last-minute cancellations of services.

Then there's the TSSA union, which has strikes going on until 17 December, and Action Short of Strike (ASOS) taking place from 18 December onwards, affecting different train operating companies at different times. This is similar to the overtime ban mentioned above, as members will only carry out contractually required duties at this time, nothing extra.

These strikes will hit different train operating companies in different ways, as it depends which unions the majority of their members belong to — best advice is to check with your train operating company when you plan your journey in advance, and again before you travel in case anything has changed.

Does the tube run on Christmas Day? A guide to TfL services over Christmas

A tube carriage bauble hanging on a Christmas tree
You won't be riding one of these on 25 December. Photo: Matt Brown

As usual, no TfL services run on Christmas Day. That's buses, tubes, trains, Overground, DLR, river boats, cable car, the works. Some transport will also finish early on Christmas Eve, so don't get caught out by that.

Santander Cycles are still available to hire on 25 December, and electric scooter hire is available in some boroughs. Some taxi services will also be running.

Aside from the Christmas Day mass shutdown, here are the rest of the details as to what's closed between Christmas and New Year:

District line: No service between Earl's Court and Kensington Olympia, 26 December-2 January.

Waterloo & City line: Closed Christmas Eve, bank holidays (so 26 and 27 December and 1 and 2 January) and New Year's Eve.

London Overground: This is the biggie. No service between Surrey Quays and New Cross, and between Sydenham and Crystal Palace, and between Euston and Watford Junction, 26 December. No service between Romford and Upminster, or between Liverpool Street and Chingford, 26 December-2 January. No service between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction, 31 December-2 January. No service between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction, 1 January.

Elizabeth line: No service 26 December. No service between Paddington and Abbey Wood/Shenfield, and reduced service between Paddington and Heathrow/Reading on 27 December-2 January. Some replacement buses operate, see TfL website for details.

Metropolitan line: No service between Baker Street and Aldgate, 2am-11am on 1 January. Use Circle or Hammersmith & City instead.

A normal service is planned on all other tube lines throughout the Christmas period (except Christmas Day).

Can you drive in London for free on Christmas Day?

Regent Street, empty of vehicles except a single silver car
London is your oyster if you have a car. Photo: Matt Brown

If you're lucky enough to have your own car, you can use that to get around the capital on Christmas Day. Here are the charges you face over the festive period:

  • No Congestion Charge 25 December-2 January.
  • No ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) 25 December only — it applies on all other days.
  • The LEZ (Low Emission Zone) applies every day of the year, including Christmas Day. Find out if it applies to your festive plans on the TfL website.

Which railway stations are closed over Christmas?

The concourse at Victoria station
No Southern or Gatwick Express services at Victoria. Photo: Matt Brown

There are some fairly big engineering projects planned, affecting the following London stations over Christmas:

London Liverpool Street

No services at all terminate or begin at Liverpool Street, 26 December-2 January. This affects Greater Anglia and Stansted Express services. Some services terminate and begin at Tottenham Hale instead, but for the lines out to Colchester, Clacton and Southend, services are terminating at Ingatestone or Billericay, with replacement buses to Newbury Park from here. The Elizabeth line won't be running between Paddington and Abbey Wood/Shenfield during this period anyway (see above). Tube lines are unaffected.

London Victoria

No Southern or Gatwick Express trains run to or from London Victoria, 26 December-2 January, because of engineering work between Victoria and East Croydon. Most services will be diverted to run to and from London Bridge instead. Details on the Southern website. Tube lines are unaffected.

London Euston

Reduced long-distance services to and from Euston between 24-30 December, to places such as Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Manchester. Details on the London North Western Railway and Avanti West Coast websites. London Overground is unaffected except for the planned closure on 26 December (see above). Tube lines not affected.

Trains through Lewisham

Lewisham station is closed, and no Southeastern trains run between New Cross, St Johns and Dartford via Bexleyheath, 24 December-2 January. Details on Southeastern website.

Beyond this, check with your train operating company for details of what is (or isn't) running between Christmas and New Year.

New Year's Eve travel in and around London

A red double decker bus bauble hanging on a Christmas tree
No free travel this year. Photo: Matt Brown

Sadly, there's no free travel on New Year's Eve this year, but services do run through the night to help people get home after seeing in 2023. There's a special service on all tube lines throughout the night, except the Waterloo & City, and the Kensington Olympia branch of the District line.

The Elizabeth line runs a special overnight service between Abbey Wood and Reading, and there's a special overnight service on the DLR, trams and parts of the London Overground.

On the buses, a Saturday service runs on 24-hour routes, and there's a special all-night service on some other routes — check your route for details.

Last Updated 23 December 2022