London Underground (tube)
London has an underground system that covers the entire centre of the city and almost all areas in, what Londoners call, Greater London. Londoners and commuters, who travel to and from their work and the city, heavily use the underground system. So don't be surprised if your train is packed with passengers, just squeeze yourself in or wait for the next packed train.
Tube Map - Click here
|In the beginning the underground system is quite confusing because of all the different lines and the directions (northbound, southbound and so on). Also some of the lines have trains which service different stations. An example is the Northern line where half of the trains travel via Bank and the other half via Charing Cross.
If you are not familiar with the underground system, I advise you to get a map of the London Underground and plan your trip in advance. This way you know where you have to switch trains and what trains you have to take.
The biggest part of London Underground (both track and trains) is outdated. Some of the lines even still use a signalling system dating from back to the sixties. What I noticed is that trains used to travel through the centre of London are modern, while on other lines the old (and sometimes crappy) trains are used. This often causes delays, cancellation of trains and sometimes trains do not run on a certain part of the line for hours on a stretch.
If the trains are running however, it is the quickest way to get from one place to another, because traffic in London is hell.
I was surprised how expensive the London underground system is. London is divided in 6 circular zones, where zone 1 and 2 cover the centre of London. The other zones are located in circles around the centre. Off course travelling to or through zones 1 and 2 are the most expensive.
I think that for a public transport that is so heavily used, the prices are ridiculous. But apparently the organisation behind it is still unable to make any profit at all.
Visit the website
of the London Underground
for more information.
Tips for Travellers
Remember that any Tube train heading from left to right on the map is designated as eastbound, and any train heading from top to bottom is southbound – no matter how many twists and turns it makes! If your two stations are not on the same line, you need to note the nearest station where the two lines intersect and change trains here. Try to avoid travelling during the rush hours if at all possible. Always check the front of the train for the correct destination. When using escalators always stand on the right
Click here for Giant Tube Map/Screensaver
Using The Underground
There is a manned ticket office at all stations. The ticket offices accept credit and debit cards and also sell the Travelcard travel pass and Oyster Cards.
Next to the manned ticket offices are always at least one bank of automatic ticket machines (see picture left).
These can you save you a lot of time if there are queues at the manned ticket office. They take credit and debit cards as well as cash.
To gain access to the platforms, and to exit a station you have to pass through automatic barriers, (pictured left). You are allowed through by inserting your ticket into a slot in the barrier, or if you have an Oyster Card swiping it over the yellow pad.
If you have a single ticket, the barrier at your destination will not return your ticket. There is usually a manned side gate by the barriers.
All Underground trains run at about 1-5 minute intervals between around 05:00 and 24:00. On Sundays, trains will start later.
Heathrow Airport is in Zone 6. Nearly all hotels visitors will use are in Zone 1 or 2. The Fare is £4.00 adult into Central London.
Consult our London Underground page for more details. You will probably find it advantageous to purchase a travel pass called The Travelcard or Oyster Card - you can purchase these at the Underground ticket offices at Heathrow.
|London Travelcard Fares 2012
The London Travelcard was the original London public transport pass and comes as a ticket on card which you dispose off when finished with.
In 2003, the Oyster Card was introduced. This is a smart card electronic device. The Oyster Card is very flexible and is the lowest cost way of travelling in London. Nearly all Londoners have Oyster Cards. However Travelcard still has its place, especially for short term visitors.
We have a dedicated page addressing the Oyster Card v Travelcard what is best for you debate. For short term visitors to London, the Travelcard is still often the optimum solution.
The Travelcard allows unlimited travel on the Underground (Metro), buses and trains in the London urban area. You also get a discount on many of London's scheduled river services too. London public transport is divided up into six circular zones radiating out from the centre. You pay more, the more zones you need. Most visitors will only need Zones 1/2 where all the attractions are. (Heathrow Airport though is in Zone 6)
|London Travelcard Prices Purchased in London (from 2 Jan 2012 )
|* Off peak = after 09:30 Monday to Friday, all day Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
(£?.??) = Child under 16 years old fare. (Free travel available, see child fares)
|Children's Fares (Children Less than 16 Years Old)
Free Travel For Children On Buses & Underground And The Need For Photocards
Children under five can travel free at any time on the Tube, DLR, buses and trams as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. Children in this category do not need Photocards.
Under-11s can travel free at any time on buses and trams without the need for a Photocard.
They can also travel free at any time on the Tube and DLR when they are travelling with an adult who has a valid ticket. Up to 4 children under 11 years old accompanied by a paying adult travel free on the London Underground. Under-11s travelling with an adult will not be issued with tickets but will be allowed to pass through the ticket gates at stations. Again no Photocard is required for children travelling with adults.
Unaccompanied children between 5 and 10 must have a valid Photocard.
Children aged 11-15 travel free at any time across the bus network, but must have a Photocard.
11-15 year olds have a £1 daily cap and £0.55 single journey fare with Oyster Card on the Tube but must have a Photocard.
Obtaining a Photocard
Visitors to London can order a Photocard in advance for their children and collect on arrival.
Note you must apply at least three weeks in advance of your visit.
Advance application for Child Photocard
Child Discounts Without Photocards
For visitors with accompanied children of 11-15 years old you can avoid the whole photocard issue by simply purchasing a child Travelcard. There are children's Travelcards available where no photocard is required,
Accompanied Child Day Travelcard £1
Adults with valid Travelcards can buy child rate Off-Peak Day Travelcards (valid in all zones) at a reduced price of £1 for up to 4 children (aged 5-15 years inclusive). The adult must accompany these children at all times. These £1 Travelcards are only valid at off peak times, so if you want to travel at peak times you need a 'standard' child's Travelcard that is more expensive. No Photocard is required for an accompanied Child Day Travelcard.
Underground Child Fares
There is a cash child flat fare of £2 per journey on the London Underground. No Photocard is required.
Click on links below for information and practical advice on travelling in and around London.
London Underground Travel Information
London Bus Travel Information
London Taxi Travel Information
London DLR Travel Information
London Local Trains Travel Information
London Walking Travel Information
Driving in London
Guided sightseeing tours of London City
London’s underground system, commonly called “the tube”, was the first to be built anywhere, and it is one of the largest. Now, however, it is one of the most unreliable –and costliest.
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