13 things you should know before using the underground

The London Underground is the oldest underground train network in the world and one of the largest. There are around 260 working stations which cover all of London. The Underground which is known as the 'Tube' can be rather daunting when using it for the first time but if you know what you are doing it is an incredibly quick, easy and cheap way to travel around the city.

Below is a list of the most important things you need to know before you travel on the tube for the first time. If you understand these basic pieces of information travelling in London will be a stress free and enjoyable experience!

1. Tube Map
The famous tube map does not bear much relation to actual over ground distances so should be used in conjunction with a regular city map. Without a city map you may hop off thinking you can walk to a nearby station and it's miles away. You can also find that a station you assume is far away is just down the road! Oyster

2. Oyster Cards
Travelcards are being phased out this year and even if you're just in London for a few days an Oyster card is by far the best way to travel. You keep the same Oyster, top it up as and when you need to and simply scan it as you enter and leave a station.

3. Station Barriers
Some stations have no obvious barriers (especially on the DLA). Small yellow bollards containing the Oyster logo are all over the place though - be sure to scan your Oyster (once) on these as you enter or leave otherwise you are classed as not having a ticket and can be fined!

4. Transport For London
All the public transport in London is linked and uses the Oyster. This includes the tube, some overground trains, buses, the DLA and even the Cable Car across the Thames!

5. DLA
The DLA stands for the Docklands Light Railway. It's more like a tram than a train and runs on electricity without a driver. Most of the DLA is overground and in the air so there are some nice views of the Greenwich and Docklands area on the DLA! It all works just like the tube though.

Escalator6. Stand right
On escalators and in walk-ways always stand (or walk slowly) on the right. If you're blocking the left side regular commuters who are rushing past you tend to get very angry indeed! If you need to rush, use the left.

7. Closures
Stations or sections of particular lines are often closed for upgrades and repairs so don't assume that every station and line is open! There are always plenty of ways to get to a station if the route you planned is not available. If you're stuck simply ask someone at the station for advice.

8. Plan ahead
When planning your route take note of the name of the lines you must take and the direction. All entrances to platforms are labelled with the line name and direction (north, east, south, west).

9. Mistakes
If you take the wrong train, don't panic! It's very easy to hop off at the next station and go back again though often it's better to continue and simply take a different route to the place you were heading.

10. Frequent trains
Trains are extremely regular so unless you are right out at the edge there's no need to think about times. Trains in the centre of London arrive every few minutes. If a train looks too packed and you don't fancy it, look out for where the less full carriages are and move to that part of the platform to get on the next train.

11. Safety
Beware of your personal items on busy trains. Like most large cities pick pockets will target crowded commuter trains as people are often crowded together, moving around and slipping something out of your bag or pocket is incredibly easy.

Queuning12. Getting on the train
Trains only stop briefly and all doors usually open and close automatically. A beep or electronic voice will warn you that doors are about to close. Ensure that there's enough time to get all your party and luggage on together at the same time (especially children!) or you will risk leaving people behind for the next train. If you're not sure you can all make it, stay calm and wait 2 minutes for the next train!

13. Queuing etiquette
British people are polite and love to queue so pushing into a space or jumping a queue is likely to make people angry. Correct etiquette is to stand aside and leave space for everyone getting off the train to disembark before you try to get on.

For further information on London see:
Where is Central London?

Central London Destination Page


By Ruth Lancey

Date: 2017-11-28 13:17:44