Tuesday 1 December 2020 7:00 am

London festive travel guide: How to get around safely this Christmas

UK leaders have agreed to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions over the festive period, granting families the chance to see their loved ones for Christmas.

Under the plans, members of up to three different households will be able to form an exclusive bubble between 23 and 27 December.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has warned Brits to avoid train services as a result of limited capacity due to social distancing requirements.

But with families needing to travel in and out of the capital, here’s some guidance from watchdog London Travel Watch on how to get about safely this Christmas.

Read more: Breaking: Three households will be able to mix for five days over Christmas

Do I need to buy tickets in advance?

While advance purchase tickets are often the cheapest, they’re also the most inflexible. But with a reduced number of seats available on trains due to social distancing, passengers are being advised to book ahead.

Either way it’s worth checking, as some train companies are saying customers must pre-book before travelling over Christmas.

Can I get a refund if the lockdown rules change?

The constant changes in restrictions mean it can be difficult to plan ahead, and passengers may need to cancel their travel plans if rules get stricter at their destination.

If your train still runs, then there’s no change to the operator’s cancellation or rebooking policy at the time you booked your ticket. This is also the case for Eurostar trains.

As a result, passengers are advised to take all Covid measures — including potential upcoming changes — into consideration when they book. Where possible, it is also advisable to select a ticket that allows refunds or free rebooking.

Passengers are only entitled to a guaranteed full cash refund if the train is cancelled. London Travel Watch warns customers to be careful when booking through third-party sites, as these can be more reluctant to provide refunds than the train companies are.

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Kings Cross will be closed entirely over the festive period

Are there planned engineering works over Christmas?

Yes, a number of rail services will be disrupted over the festive period.

The main disruption will be at Kings Cross, which will be closed entirely from Saturday 26 to Wednesday 30 December. From Thursday 31 December until Sunday 3 January some lines will reopen, with a reduced service to and from Kings Cross.

Further engineering work is taking place on the following routes:

  • Between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield, closing various lines from Saturday 26 December to Sunday 3 January. 
  • Between London Liverpool Street and Manningtree/Hythe, closing all lines from Sunday 27 December to Thursday 31 December.
  • Between Peterborough and Stamford, closing all lines on Sunday 27 and Monday 28 December.
  • In the Bristol Temple Meads area, closing all lines on Sunday 27 December.
  • Between Fareham and Portsmouth Harbour, closing all lines from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 January.

Read more: Crossrail will be ‘mothballed’ without extra funding, TfL chief warns

Which services will be running in London over Christmas?

There will be no trains, Tube, buses, trams or DLR on Christmas Day. Many train companies are also not running services on Boxing Day.

Trains and all Transport for London (TfL) services will be running Saturday, modified or reduced services over the festive period, so it’s worth checking before you travel.

TfL usually suspends the congestion charge over the festive season, but this year it will operate as normal on all days except Christmas Day.