Destinations Magazine

It's A London Thing No.71 - Negotiating The Tube

By Lwblog @londonwalks

It's A London Thing No.71 - Negotiating The TubeIt’s a London Thing is our Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.
The London Underground is most definitely A London Thing. But it can be a deceptive and confusing beast – as the current pre-Olympic Get Ahead Of the Games campaign would suggest.
But even after the Games have gone, the following tips will stand the London Walker in good stead for negotiating our mighty Underground railway.
Firstly, it may look like a long way on the tube map, but it’s quicker to walk from Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square. Ditto Leicester Square to Covent Garden. And Charing Cross to Embankment.
The interchange between the Piccadilly and Victoria lines at Green Park involves a substantial walk underground. If you’re heading for/from Heathrow with heavy bags, try to use an alternative.
There. That’s all been quite jolly and friendly so far. Now for a change of pace – rendered in the lingua franca of the tube:
Stand on the right on the escalator. The right. The right. The right. Why? Just shut up and stand on the right, that’s why. And don’t stop dead at the bottom/top of the escalator expecting a round of applause for having gone down/up an escalator. Keep moving. In the words of the comedian Ricky Gervais who was once asked what advice he would give to a London tourist: get out of my way unless you want to get hurt.
Right. That’s better. Got it out of our system.
Grumpiness spreads like contagion on the Underground, especially at rush hour.
If someone is struggling with a pram or some such encumbrance, it makes sense to help him or her. Not just so you can feel all smug and sure in the knowledge that you have improved the human experience: but if you help someone who is moving slowly to move quickly and safely, then you can move quickly too. Doh!
And then there’s Bank. With nine different exits, it can be a little confusing. Not that you’re dumb, o’course (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading The DC) but if you’re visiting there are just better things to do with your time than get lost at or in Bank underground station. Firstly, it’s really two stations – Bank and Monument – the kind of conjoined twin of the Underground. Changing between, say, the Circle and Northern lines will involve a subterranean yomp beneath several streets worth of space between the two.
(If a London Walk is meeting at Bank, then the exit will be clearly numbered on the leaflet and the exits are well sign-posted.)
On Sundays, Camden Town station is exit only, due to the great numbers that descend on the markets and bars. That’s no excuse not to go to Camden – we still love Camden. But with Mornington Crescent just a few minutes walk away, TFL have identified a sensible alternative exit. Covent Garden can get superbusy at weekend and evenings, too. But as we have seen, Leicester Square is just a short walk on foot, as is nearby Holborn.
And if you buy an Oyster Card you’ll save money (Oyster travel is cheaper in every case) and you’ll have more money to spend when you do emerge at Camden Town and Covent Garden.
Move along the platform and along the carriage too. And do we really need to ask a smart, urbane, intelligent type such as your fine self to allow passengers off the train before boarding? Really? Say it ain’t so, Joe.
The London Underground is one of the planet’s most sophisticated rail networks. In our opinion it is the greatest railway in the world. Following these few simple tips will make your experience of it even better.
Have we missed any tips? Give us your own recommendations at the usual email address
For travel arrangements and tube advice during the forthcoming Olympics visit
Tube etiquette. Can we call it “Tubiquette”? No? Thought not. Anyway, It’s A London Thing.

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