One of the biggest stresses visitors to London are faced with is the underground; if you’re not local, or have very little experience using the tube, then it’s a scenario that can be extremely confusing. Even the map makes very little sense when you’re not familiar with underground travel.
So we’ve put together a list of tips to help you navigate London’s famous tube system, and get you from A to B without the stress.
Keep to the right on escalators
You’re politely reminded to stand on the right to allow other people to walk up/down on the left – some people are in a rush! If you’re travelling in a large group, or are carrying lots of bags, stay on the right and allow others to pass you. It speeds up the process and keeps the crowds moving efficiently.
Avoid rush hour
If you need time to stop and think when venturing through the tube, you’re advised to stay clear during rush hour when stations and trains are very overcrowded. People won’t tolerate people who stand in the middle of walkways trying to figure out where they’re going, so either find an alternative route, or know exactly where you’re going beforehand. The busiest times are between 07:30 and 09:30 in the morning, and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evenings.
Move down the platform
When you first enter the station and it’s busy, you’ll find more space if you edge your way down the platform. The carriages that stop there are also more likely to be empty or at least quieter.
Don’t worry, there are trains running in both directions almost all day everyday – if you head the wrong way or hop on the wrong train, just get off at the next stop and find the next train heading the way you’re meant to be. Tube trains run every 2 – 7 minutes, so it’s not a big deal if you get it wrong. Just take your time.
Let people off before boarding
An important rule to remember is to let the passengers off the train before you attempt to board; it will open up room for you in the carriages and it prevents unnecessary pushing and shoving.
Be prepared at the barrier
Have your ticket ready as you approach the barrier; a lot of ‘tutting’ and impatience happens here, so get ready to pass through the gate as you approach so that the lines can keep moving smoothly.
Check for line closures
Before you travel, always check for line closures and delays, especially at weekends when maintenance work often takes place. TFL’s website is a good way to keep up with underground travel information and network updates.
Keep personal belongings close
Just like any city, there are pickpockets lingering in busy stations and on trains. Keep your personal belongings close to you at all times, and stored out of view in a zip bag.
The underground is 150 years old, and despite trains and stations being modernised, not all of them will have air conditioning, so always carry water with you especially during the warmer months.