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You Either Love It Or Hate It.
London Underground in General
Member Name: jill_babybear
London Underground in General
Advantages: Fast and Efficient
Disadvantages: Hot and can get very crowded.
On a recent trip to London I found myself along with many other people riding round on the London Undergorund. It was hot and sticky, but strangely enough no one seemed to complain, no anger bubbled to the surface as we were all crammed into the carriages like sardines. Must be the British stiff upper lip thing.
Love it or hate it, the London Underground is a quick and efficient way of getting around our capital. It is split into nine zones, but for most people on a day trip or a weekend break, you'll only need to negotiate your way around zones 1 and 2 as this is where all the popular tourist attractions are.
My advice before you travel is to familiarise yourself with the London Underground or Tube as it's more commonly called map. They are easily found on the web and can be printed off quite easily for free. I've use the official London Transport web site http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ many times. Start by working out where your hotel is and then which Tube stations it's near and on which line it is, there are 15 in total, all being given a different colour, such as the Piccadilly line is dark blue, the Circle line is yellow, the Jubilee line is silver/grey and so on. Then work out where you want to visit and the nearest tube station to that, it could be that your hotel is near a station that is also on the same line as the attraction that you want to visit, in which case great, however it could be that you may have to change lines and here's where the fun can start. There are many stations where it is possible to change lines without leaving the underground system, you simply leave one train and then follow the signs to the next line that you want to connect to. This can involve a lot of walking and the use of either lifts or escalators, so if you're in any way scared of these then my advice would be to use the buses because there's no other way of getting to any of the stations. Each station has two platforms, either West or East Bound or North or South Bound and each has a map showing which station you're at and then a list of the stations that the train will call at. Simply choose which one you need and go and wait on the platform.
On each platform there is normally an electronic sign which tells you which train is about to arrive and how long you have to wait as well as information about the next couple of trains. You'll know when the train is coming as you'll feel the air start to move as the pressure from the train pushes it. Now you have to be quick when you're getting on and off the trains as they don't hang around for long which can be rather tricky during the rush hour as people jostle to get on and off, there's no set routine, all passangers off first then all passengers on, it's every man for himself so make sure that if you're travelling as a group or with children that you hang onto them for dear life as you don't want to loose them, believe me I know, I was seperated from my partner once, he got on the train and just as I was about to get on the doors closed and I was left on the platform. Luckily I knew where I was going and the next train wasn't too far behind, so we were fine, but remember there are no mobile phone signals so you can't get in touch with someone if they're left behind. Once on the trains there is normally a station by station annoucement telling you which station is next and if there are connecting lines which they are and also for certain attractions.
The trains themselves are clean, fast and efficient, although some of the stations are in need of a little TLC but they are again clean and tidy. There is a rule when walking down the corridors that you stick to the left so that people who are walking faster than you can pass, whilst on the escalaters you stand to the right in single file so that again people can walk past you if they're in a rush.
Here's a short list of some of the stations that I hope you'll find useful:-
Westminster - Circle (Yellow) and District (Green) and Jubilee (Silver/Grey) get off here for the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and The London Eye
Tower Hill - Circle (Yellow) and District (Green) and DLR (2 Light Blue Lines) get off here for The Tower of London and London Bridge
Knightsbridge - Piccadilly (Dark Blue) Harrods
South Kensington - Piccadilly (Dark Blue) and Circle (Yellow) and District (Green) get off here for The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and The Royal Albert Hall
North Greenwich - Jubilee (Silver/Grey) 02 Arena
Oxford Circus- Central (Red) and Bakerloo (Brown) and Victoria (Light Blue) get off here for Oxford Street shopping.
There are many types of ticket which you can purchase, the most common being an Oyster Card which works in the same way as a pay as you go mobile phone card, you keep topping it up with money, then when you enter the station you scan it over a sensor and then when you leave you scan it again and the money is deducted. Again I'd visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ to see which card would be best for you.
Well I hope I haven't made the tube sound too scary, it really is one of the best ways of getting round London, once you get the hang of the system. Yes it can get very busy and yes it can get hot, but it can also cut out a lot of wandering around looking for places, when with just a tube ride you're right on the doorstep.
Summary: A Simple Way To Get Around London.