Tube (Underground, Subway, Metro)., London
There are works on various underground lines on week ends.
Circle line, District, H'smith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria line.
Most London underground lines have no service or partial service on week ends in August, September & October 2011!
You might have booked a hotel near a tube station and find out that there is no service on the chosen WE.
On the August WE when I was in London staying near Tower Hill station there was no service on Circle line and District line.
People visiting the Tower of London had to come by bus nr 15 (every 12 minutes on Sunday and crowded off course) or the more expensive boat services on the Thames.
Before booking a hotel and preparing your visits look on the website:
www.tfl.gov.uk Line Travel News - Planned Works Calendar.
As per my previous tips, the tube is a great way to get around London.
The only problem is that it doesn't run for 24 hours!! Most of the tube lines stop running by 1.30am at the latest.....often earlier....
I guess it is lucky that pubs shut at 11pm!!!
That said, there are night buses that cover most of London......but much slower than getting the tube.
Check out the website for details of last trains to your destination.
The London Underground is a metro system serving a large part of Greater London and neighbouring areas of Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire in England, and is both the world's oldest underground railway and the oldest rapid transit system. It is usually referred to as the Underground or the Tube - the latter deriving from the shape of the system's deep-bore tunnels - although about 55% of the network is above ground.
Update April 2014: links to separate tip about Oyster and local customs added, extra photos, small changes to text
Elsewhere, under Local Customs, I’ve provided a tongue-in-cheek guide to using the London Underground, or “tube” as it’s more usually called. Here though is some practical information you may find helpful.
Firstly, and I can’t stress this too much, get a map (downloadable from the website below, though it’s better to have one of the small folded ones you can pick up for free at every station). This is a complex transport system with many lines, and most of those branch a lot. Even locals refer to the map whenever they travel somewhere off their regular routes. Plan ahead, and check where you’ll need to change lines, and in what direction you’ll need to travel each time. Each line has a distinct colour and name, and all the passageways in the stations are well signposted, so armed with this information you should be OK.
Secondly, if you’re in London for any length of time at all, consider getting a so-called Oyster card. These can be bought for a fixed period of time, such as a month, or can be used to carry a certain amount of value, topped up in advance. Your fare is deducted each time you touch in and out of the tube system at the barrier gates, or when you board a bus. Travelling with an Oyster is always cheaper than buying a ticket each time, plus it saves you the hassle of queuing or finding change for the ticket machines. You can also upload a travel card on to an Oyster. But the system can be confusing so I've written a separate tip about its complexities to help you decide which fare option is best for you.
Thirdly, remember that as in any big city, crime can be a problem. On the tube this is mostly likely to take the form of pick-pocketing or bag-snatching, so do keep a careful eye on your belongings. Having said that, I’ve used the tube regularly all my life and so far have never been robbed – and yes, I realise I’m tempting fate saying that, but I do want to reassure you all. So get out there and enjoy the city!
IIn London, the underground system is called the Tube. There are over 250 stations, and the trains run ever day from 5:30 am until just after midnight. On my warning tip, I talk about the inconvenience of little or no service after midnight.
The station in the photo (Liverpool Street Station), has a Tourist Information Center that is open:
8:15 am-7 pm Mondays
8:15 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday
8:15 am-4:45 pm Sunday
They have information about daytrips, guided tours, and accomodations.
I purchased a Weekly Travel Card It is by far the most economical plan if you are staying at least four days. I stayed for seven days; thus, it really saved me a good deal of money. It allowed me to have unlimited travel on all forms of transportation without time restrictions. I knew before I left (because Jill informed me) that I needed a passport-sized photo in order to purchase the card.
See my Packing Tip for the need of photo..
London's Tube is probably one of the most famous, and best planned, in the World. I hate it. There is something about being underground I just can't stand. The crowds of people swarm toward the appointed train platforms, rushing, up and down stairs, following the familiar (to them) signs and obediently "Minding the Gap".
In my experience, the trains are always crowded: I inevitably get pushed up against someone smelly, there is absolutely nowhere to sit, and you can't see anything.
But that said, it is the cheapest and most efficient way to get anywhere in London.
Edited: July 2006
I am reading a novel that takes place in London and read an amazing statistic that I had to check out. Here is the result of my research:
On average, a person a week attempts suicide across the network (in 2003, 179 people committed suicides on the UK Rail Network). Only 1 out of 3 attempts is successful. To prevent deaths, most stations have pits between the tracks. These are actually known as a "suicide pit" to allow the body to fall between the tracks as the train passes over them. Such actions are announced in the station as "passenger action" or "a person under a train" but are called by the staff "one under".
A great website with lots of interesting information about the London Underground is HERE
The London underground is one of my favourite forms of transportation - yes, it's packed (at certain times of day), it's grubby, and there are often delays. But its a great way to get about London quickly and sometimes, some of the adverts are an amusing diversion while you are waiting.
Oh and check this website out:
There's a collection here of very funny and impromptu announcements made by tube drivers to passengers eg:
"Covent Garden has been closed due to overcrowding. Please alight at Leicester Square and wander around aimlessly with your huge rucksacks until you get to your destination".
"Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors".
"This is Victoria station. Please leave your valuables on the train and I will collect them at the end of my shift".
There are LOADS more.
Updated July 2011
Although London residents may not rave about the tube, as a visitor I find this an excellent way to get around the city. Yes, there are occasionally strikes and delays and shutdowns for maintenance but on my two recent trips to London, I only experienced minor delays which are marked at the entrance gates so you have the chance to rethink your journey. There's almost always more than one way to get somewhere via tube, if not then certainly by bus. A lot of the planned maintenance is done on the weekends, you can check on the website below for your travel dates. In the case of planned maintenance, there are replacement buses that travel between the stations.
In terms of how extensive the system is, how close it gets you to all of the major attractions and how straightforward the map is, I think London is one of the best subway systems in the world, if not the best.
What is complicated is the fare structure, the map is broken down into zones-most tourists will not go outside zones 1-2. The only time I went outside on my trips was Kew Gardens and Wimbledon, both in zone 3, and Heathrow which is in zone 6. If you buy a zone 1-2 PAPER travelcard for most of your travel, you can pay the cash fare or get an Oyster or a 1 day travelcard for the different zones. The last time I tried to get an extension on my zone 1-2 PAPER travelcard, they wouldn't let me do it although I'm sure I did on previous trips. If you get an Oyster or a travelcard loaded onto an Oyster, you can add onto the Oyster for the journey.
Single cash fares are more than what is charged to your Oyster for the same ride to encourage it's use. There are also 1 and 7 day travelcards, monthly passes, etc., the attached website lists the many options. If you are traveling between 4:30am and 9:30am during the week, this is considered peak and you will be charged more for a 1 day travelcard; 7 day travelcards include peak travel.
For planning purposes, give yourself an estimated 3 minutes per tube stop. If you are planning a late night out, be advised that the tube stops running around midnight and you will need to figure out where to catch a night bus. Check Transport for London's website for the last tube from the station you will be near.
The UNDERGROUND or the TUBE, is the best way to get around London --- and it is always an adventure. Pick up a tube map at any station. Each underground line has a different name and colour which makes it easy for you to follow your route.
The TUBE covers 6 Zones and carries 3 million commuters daily -- Imagine that!!!
You must buy the right ticket for your destination before you begin your journey or you will be liable to a 10 pound Penalty. The price of your ticket depends on how many Zones you travel through. Travel Cards offer the best value. Hans bought one "Off-Peak" card for 4.90 pounds.
Try to avoid the busiest times between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Travel around London in sterling compared to other currencies is pretty expensive - we hated it when we were here as tourists converting to Aussie and Kiwi money - and unfortunately prices went up heaps last year and horridly again this year!
Now i have quite excitedly found out that the new Oyster card system enables much cheaper tube travel. Usually i use saver ticket bus tickets to get from home into the city - £6 for 6 tickets(dont know if their price has just changed again as single tickets have dropped from £1 to 90p) - or if travelling a bit in one day i used to splash out and get a one day travel card - or even better a weekend travel card which inclides the faster overground train routes - but now they are even more expensive.
carnets are now no longer available (used to get 10 tickets for £11.50)
now i have found out that by getting a £3 oyster card then adding value of whatever amount you decide, you then can use it to get one zone travel for £1.50 each and buses for 90p a ride. This saves from the enormous price increase of a one zone tube ride from £1.50 to £3 for those not using an oyster card!
Also handy I find is having a zone 2 and 3 travel pass for the week which covers all the underground and overground except zone 1 and includes all buses everywhere - then use the single swipe for any zone 1 tube trips plus there are so many bus routes in the city centre that I only use the tube if in a hurry. Tube stations such as Vauxhall - which connects with the overground - and Earls Court are handily both Zone 1 and Zone 2 stations.
Since the Tube in London is a quite widespread thing, neading lots of attention and lots of reconstruction works, some stations will be closed time-by-time.
About the service on the different lines you can always see postings on the stations, showing on which line is possible to face some delays or problems. Bright! :)
Traveling by "Tube" is the easiest and fastest way to travel in Central London. There are 12 underground lines, each color coded and maps (called Journey Planners) are posted in all the stations. If you plan to make more than two trips a day, purchase the Travelcard. Single tickets are also sold. The tickets are sold by destination which fall within 6 specified London zones.
In the beginning it looks quite complicated, even with the free little leaflet you can find at the metro station in which you can find all information about the different lines.
The tubes are driving South or North so you can see if you go into the right direction.
When I was there I used the Bakerloo line, the Victoria line and the Northern line.
Some lines, like the Northern line might split up and meet a few times along their way, so you need to see what end station is at your travel. It is very well indicated at the signs in the tube station and on the front of the metro wagon.
Places where you can connect to another line are very well indicated at the map and an intercom will tell you what station you are arriving at and what connections you can take from there.
Inside each wagon there is also a map showing the stops and names of stations.
You get to find your way around in not much time.
Advantage of the subway is the fast way you travel to your destiny. In a bus you can get stuck into traffic although at some parts the bus have separate lanes.
for 24 hours travel info you can dial
020 7222 1234
Want to travel relatively quickly around London...
Looking for a fascinating and unforgettable trip...
Think about the Tube solution...
Well let's talk about:
- price... think Oyster (card) to find the rare pearl in terms of fare.
- timetable... service is operating usually from 5:30 AM to 0:30 AM (MON-SAT) except in case of strike...
- map... mind the map and the gap of course ;-)
- delay... unpredictable as usual. The peak hour for tube suicides is 11 AM.
- comfort... air-conditioning is performing well thanks to the draughts causing by tube mouvements. So the air in the underground is on average 10°C hotter than the air on the surface. In summer, take a breath before diving underground and prepare to get out bathed in sweat...
- comfort (2)... try the Tube shake with flickering lights available on all lines...
- cleanliness... no comment, you will find all possible colors underground except white.
- safety... hope that Big Brother is watching you or rather your neighbour...
- accessibiliy... people with reduced mobility or heavy luggage should well plan their trip as only a few stations offer lifts and user friendly platforms.
- way out... you are about leaving the Tube experience, think to find the right and quickest way out.
A last interesting fact found on the funny Underground website:
The shortest distance between tube stations is Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line with 0.16 miles. The most popular route for tourists is Leicester Square to Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line. It is quicker to walk this distance than travel on the tube.
Have fun Underground!!!
There's probably not much to say about the tube as a great way to get around London that already hasn't been said. Though I live in a small town with no public transporation, give me a tube map and I feel like I could find my way anywhere in London.
Covent Garden station was closest to our hotel, so we used it every day, and I agree with those who say proximity to a tube station is one of the most important amenities of a London hotel.
They are easy to use, and usually -- though not always -- you can find a seat. As reported elsewhere, people are not interested in socializing on the tube -- newspaper or book reading, sleeping or just being lost in one's thoughts are all acceptable.
A couple of time when we were inspecting a tube map in a station looking confused, a tube worker came up and asked if we needed help. That never happened in the New York subway. The London underground also seemed cleaner and safer than NYC.