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

Christmas Transport In London: What's Running, What's Closed, And What About Those Strikes?
A glowing Underground roundel at night, 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.

Are there train strikes over Christmas 2023?

At time of writing (early December 2023), the latest strikes announced are those taking place by members of the ASLEF union between 1 and 9 December.

Happily, members of the RMT Union have come to an agreement which means they won't be striking again until at least spring next year.

That said, other unions (including ASLEF) may still be striking, and can announce strikes with a minimum of two weeks' notice, so there still could be strikes over the Christmas and New Year period — we'll update this page if there's any news on that front.

Note that there are bus strikes on some west London TfL services expected on 22 and 23 December.

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

A shiny tube carriage decoration 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, Elizabeth line, 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:

BAKERLOO LINE: No service between between Queens Park and Harrow and Wealdstone on 26 December. Note that there's also no London Overground between Euston and Watford Junction on that day, so don't rely on that as an alternative.

DLR: No service between Poplar/Westferry and Canary Wharf on 26 December. No service between Bank / Tower Gateway and Poplar/Canary Wharf 27-30 December.

ELIZABETH LINE: No service on 26 December. On 27 December no service between Paddington and Ealing Broadway, and Abbey Wood, and Shenfield services start and terminate at Paddington — use the tube for the central section.

LONDON OVERGROUND: No service on most of the network on 26 December. Some routes have replacement buses, others offer local buses/other rail services as alternative routes — check TfL website for details.

A normal service is planned on all other tube lines throughout the Christmas period (except Christmas Day), with the exception of the Waterloo & City line which is closed on weekends and bank holidays, as usual.

Can you drive in London for free on Christmas Day 2023?

A very empty Regent Street in daylight, with a single car on the road
London is your oyster if you have a car. Photo: Matt Brown

With the expansion of the ULEZ, there's an extra dimension to that question this year.

The Congestion Charge (which applies to all vehicles driving within the Congestion Charge Zone) does not apply 25 December 2023-1 January 2024, inclusive.

The ULEZ, which is the one that expanded earlier this year and applies to the most polluting vehicles, does not apply on Christmas Day, 25 December. However, unlike the Congestion Charge, it is enforced every other day of the year, including Boxing Day through to New Year.

And finally, the LEZ, which generally only applies to heavy diesel vehicles and is separate from the ULEZ, applies every day of the year including Christmas Day.

Unsure which applies to you? Check your vehicle on the TfL website.

Which railway stations are closed over Christmas 2023?

Exterior of King's Cross Station
King's Cross is closed on Christmas Eve 2023. Photo: Matt Brown

KING'S CROSS: Closed completely on Christmas Eve, Sunday 24 December — so if you're planning to join the mass exodus out of London on the East Coast Main Line, do so on 23 December or before. The closure applies to the National Rail station only — King's Cross St Pancras tube station is unaffected.

PADDINGTON: Closed completely Sunday 24-Wednesday 27 December inclusive, affecting journeys to South Wales, Bristol, the West Country and Heathrow Airport. Note this only applies to the National Rail station — Paddington tube station is unaffected by this.

VICTORIA: No Southeastern services at Victoria, Saturday 23 December-Monday 1 January inclusive. Southeastern will be diverted to other London terminals, and other train operators are unaffected and will use Victoria as normal. Victoria tube station is unaffected.

See National Rail's Christmas travel page for more details on the above. Beyond this, check with your train operating company for details of what is (or isn't) running between Christmas and New Year. There are no trains running anywhere on Christmas Day, and most operators start winding down early (around 5pm — though it varies) on Christmas Eve.

Getting to and from London airports: Christmas 2023

A plane taking off into the sunset
Image: Shutterstock

HEATHROW: The biggie you need to know about here is Heathrow. Linked to the closure of Paddington (above), there are no direct National Rail services between Heathrow and central London, Sunday 24-Wednesday 27 December inclusive. This includes the Heathrow Express, which won't run 24-27 December. The Elizabeth line runs between Ealing Broadway and Heathrow Airport on 24 and 27 December only (no service on 25 or 26 December). On the days the Elizabeth line is running, take the tube to Ealing Broadway and change there. Alternatively, take the tube (Piccadilly line) all the way to the airport on any day (except 25 December).

GATWICK: Note that there's a reduced Gatwick Express service after 5pm on Christmas Eve, and no service 25 or 26 December. Otherwise, it operates as normal. Alternative Southern trains will run between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport for part of the day on 26 December.

STANSTED: No Stansted Express on 25 December. On 26 December, it only runs between Tottenham Hale and Stansted Airport. A few other late night and early morning alterations through Christmas week, so do check in advance.

CITY AIRPORT: See amendments to the DLR in tube section, above.

New Year's Eve travel in and around London

A red bus decoration 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 2024. 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, Hayes & Harlington and Shenfield, and Maidenhead and Abbey Wood 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.

Full information available on the TfL New Year's Eve page.

Last Updated 22 December 2023