Travelling over Christmas
- Thomas Cook Publishing
- 18/Dec/2012 15:00
British and Irish travellers may find little Christmas cheer in the holiday train timetables. No rail services at all operate on Christmas Day (although substitute bus services will link central
with the capital’s three principal airports — at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted).
On 26 December,
remains utterly train-less and things are little better in
. It is only on selected routes around
that any trains will run. The
services will include trains to
on the south coast and to both Gatwick and Stansted airports, though curiously not to Heathrow. In
, the entire rail network shuts down again on 1 January.
Those looking to flee
before the shutdown need to plan their escape carefully. Eurostar trims its services from mid-afternoon on 24 December and follows the British lead in running no trains at all on Christmas Day.
Combing the pages of the current edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable, we see that
are quite unusual in closing their rail networks over the holidays. In much of continental
, it is business as usual on the railways — and 25 December is often quite busy on the trains as folk are out and about, visiting friends and family. In some countries, a Sunday service operates on 25 December and 1 January (and often also on other days over the holidays). Elsewhere service levels are more akin to those of a Saturday, but with some trimming of early morning services.
In most Orthodox areas of eastern Europe (and it’s worth remembering that, in terms of geographical area, the Orthodox preference covers most of
), Christmas is not celebrated until 7 January. That means that travellers to Russia, Ukraine, Serbia (and many other countries) will find that 25 December is pretty much a normal working day. True devotees of Christmas cheer can thus enjoy a typical western Christmas in the
, taking the train east to
over the New Year in order to get a second dose of Yuletide in January.
The European Rail Timetable lists public holidays for every European country, and is the perfect accessory for those keen to get a double dose of Christmas.
by Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner
The writers are editors of hidden
magazine (www.hiddeneurope.co.uk/). They are also the authors of the Thomas Cook Publishing title Europe by Rail.