London can get very busy during the festive period and if you’re planning your Christmas travel, it pays to have an idea of what to expect. In a city as vibrant as London, there may be special events (or maintenance works) planned that could impact your travel schedule.
The Underground will be busy with shoppers and party-goers in the run-up to Christmas. It operates 364 days a year and is closed only on Christmas Day. Bear in mind that seasonal events such as Christmas markets, shows and late-night shopping could make the Underground particularly busy. Whether you’re off to bag a bargain at the shops, or planning to visit family and friends, take advantage of off-peak fares. They give the best value for money, so passengers can make the most of the holidays and have more money in their wallet.
Although the whole Underground is going to be busy as Christmas approaches, some platforms will be more packed than others. The busiest Tube station is officially Waterloo, which is used by around 95 million passengers each year. The second busiest is Oxford Circus and the third Victoria.
According to research, London’s busiest shopping day is traditionally the final Saturday before Christmas, which falls on 21st December this year. The earlier Saturday (14th December) is the second busiest shopping day before Christmas.
Avoid delays by shopping and travelling on different days outside the busiest periods. Perhaps you can take time out to do your Christmas shopping on a weekday, or travel on the Tube outside peak times.
Planning your route
If you’re taking a whole day out to do as much of your Christmas shopping as possible, planning your route ahead is the key. Take advantage of the numerous apps available where you can see live updates on London’s transport system in real-time.
Particularly useful is the Transport for London status updates site, detailing the current service and disruptions on every Underground station and line. Another popular site for real-time travel information is the Tube Map for London Underground app.
Try to plan your trip avoiding the busiest times and days, avoiding any stations or lines where disruptions may occur due to maintenance works, or other factors. This should keep your stress levels to a minimum.
Keep track of whether there are any Tube strikes looming that may disrupt your festive travel plans. Staff on the Victoria Line have been involved in a dispute with London Underground. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union earlier announced a 24-hour strike from 10pm on 27th November.
If the issues aren’t resolved, there have been threats of possible further strikes in December, although nothing has been confirmed yet. The RMT union called the strike after accusing London Underground bosses of “breaking promises” in relation to agreements they had reached during earlier talks on staff pay and amenities.
The Underground will be up and running on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. On Christmas Eve, the services will finish early and there will be no night Tube. There are no services at all on Christmas Day.
On Boxing Day, the Underground will be running a reduced service. Between Monday 23rd December 2019 and Thursday 2nd January 2020, most of the Tube services will be running, but there will be some service changes.
For a stress-free journey, it’s probably best to check online, or via one of the London transport apps, to find out in advance which services are operating.
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We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.