A complete guide to using the London Underground

london underground

The London Underground isn’t just a transport system, it’s the backbone of the city. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s fast and, despite what some Londoners might tell you, pretty reliable as well.

Every day, over 20 million journeys are made using the iconic Tube network and chances are you will be relying upon it for the duration of your stay in London. Many of the London shaftesbury hotels are located within close proximity to a station, making it even quicker to get around England’s capital.

From its straight forward Tube map to the vast area it covers, the Underground is by far one of the best inter-city transport links in the world.

Although travelling on the Tube is far from rocket science, there are some things you need to know about in terms of etiquette and practical information. To make sure your experience on the London Underground is a positive one, here is our comprehensive list of tips for using it.

Stand on the right

When using the elevators or the stairs, keep to the right-hand side of the passageway. For escalators, this is so those who are walking can use the left-hand side to travel quicker and on the stairs it means that those coming down can walk on the left unopposed. If you are carrying lots of shopping bags and luggage, keep to the right to avoid clogging up the passage and slowing down the others around you.

London Underground

Remember your lines

The lines of the London Underground criss-cross the city like multi-coloured arteries, touching all points of the capital’s compass. Each one has its own distinctive colour, and it can be very handy to know which ones are which, especially for the Tube lines that are closest to your discount hotel London.

You don’t have to know them off by heart, but seeing a familiar colour can help you to navigate the Underground much easier when you are in a hurry.

For example, the Northern Line is black, the Piccadilly Line is dark blue, Victoria is light blue, District is dark green, Central is red, Bakerloo is brown and Circle is yellow. To see the full list of lines and their corresponding colours, visit the Transport for London website.

Avoid rush hour

The Tube can be manic during rush hour and it’s wise to avoid it completely at this time if you can. In the morning it occurs between 7:30am and 9:30am and in the evening it is between 5pm and 7pm.

Get an Oyster card

Although you can use tickets on the Tube, it’s so much easier to get an Oyster card at the beginning of your stay.

This prepaid travel card can be topped up as and when you need it at the many ticket booths in the city and if you pay in a lump sum at the beginning, it means you’ll spend less time queuing for tickets.

Once you have the card loaded and ready to go, all you need to do is hold it onto the yellow travel pads that are located at the entrance and exit of every Tube station. Remember, always touch in and out, even if the turnstile is open; you may also need to touch the pad in between trips to account for changes.

Whether you use tickets or an Oyster card, always ensure you have it ready before you get to the turnstile to avoid congestion and angry Londoners!

Don’t despair if you get the wrong train

The trains are very frequent, so if you get the wrong one, don’t panic! Just get off  at the next stop and retrace your journey.

Apps like CityMapper are ideal for travelling around London, as they give you all the options and which lines you need to take.

Keep moving down the platform

For some reason, people always tend to congregate at one end of the platform; the closest to the entrance. Not only does this cause massive congestion, but it also means that you are less likely to get onto the train comfortably.

To avoid this, keep walking down the platform to the far end. Usually, there are fewer people here, which makes it easier to get onto the train. As well as this, you will often find that the train’s front carriages are not as full as the ones at the back. The reason for this is likely to be that people at the other stops are getting on at the beginning of the platform instead of moving down, making the carriages more congested and less pleasant to travel on – it’s like a vicious cycle!

It’s also wise to stand back behind the yellow line when the train approaches, giving yourself as much room as possible – Tubes travel very fast so don’t get too close.

Stand back and let people off

When the Tube stops and the doors open, stand to the side and let people alight the train before attempting to get on. You may see people pushing their way through those trying to get off, but don’t follow their example; just wait patiently until it’s your time to board. You will find that most people do the same and it makes for a much more streamlined travel experience for all involved.

Always listen for announcements

Try and listen out for announcements over the tannoy as they may be giving out important information. This could be related to delays, station closures or emergencies, so it’s always wise to pay attention. If travelling alone and listening to music, at least turn the volume down so that you can hear when an announcement is being made – it may save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

If you need help, ask

Most stations will have a ticket office and the operators will be more than happy to help you if you have any questions. Failing that, some platforms will have attendants who help direct the flow of people and pass on information as each train approaches.

Where there are no attendants or London Underground staff, you may find a help station on the wall of the platform. Simply push the button, wait to be connected to the help office and ask your question – it could not be easier.

Failing all the above options, you can always ask a fellow traveller for help. Given the fast-paced nature of the London Underground this can be a little daunting, but if you are confident and polite, you are more than likely to find help.

Don’t force your way onto a train

On certain lines in rush hour, the amount of people cramming themselves on to the carriages can be intimidating, especially if you have issues with tight spaces. Such is the regularity of the trains, it’s probably more sensible to wait for the next one that to spend the journey with your head wedged into a stranger’s armpit.

This is even more important if you are travelling with children, trying to cram the entire family onto an already overcrowded Tube will only cause distress – just hang on for the next one, it will be there in a few minutes!