Friday, 19 October 2012

Secrets of the London Underground

On my latest visit to London, I realised I'd picked up a few handy-to-know facts about the Underground over the years.

They're the sort of practical tips you wouldn't find in an online planner or on Harry Beck's iconic Tube map, but they're damned useful just the same.

Let me share them with you here...

1. Airport shuffle


If changing from the District Line to the Piccadilly Line on the way to Heathrow Airport, do it at Hammersmith.

At this station, for some reason, the westbound District Line trains and westbound Piccadilly Line trains share the same island platform; all you have to do on leaving the first train is step lightly across the platform to catch your airport-bound train. No stairs required.

2. Up-down shortcut

If you follow the marked walkway when changing from the Jubilee Line to the Piccadilly Line at Green Park station (perhaps also on the way to Heathrow), you'll experience a very long and frustrating walk. Believe it or not, it's actually easier to ignore the walkway and go up the escalators to the ticket concourse, then down the long escalator to the Piccadilly Line platforms from there.

3. West End stroll


If you've arrived at Leicester Square station via the Northern Line and need to get to Covent Garden, it's quicker to walk between the two places above ground than to bother changing to the Piccadilly Line, as they're so close (only 260 metres separate their platforms down below).

4. Eastern diversion

If staying at Stratford in East London, it seems logical at first glance to catch the Central Line into central London, rather than the more southerly Jubilee Line.

The Central Line is quicker time-wise, but its trains arrive at Stratford from much further out and are invariably crowded. You can almost always get a seat on a Jubilee Line train, as Stratford is its starting point.

5. Metropolitan propinquity

Don't be deterred by the Tube map's lack of interconnection between Warren Street station on the Northern Line, and Euston Square station on the Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City Lines. There's no direct interchange, but in reality they're only a short walk apart; you can more or less see one station when standing outside the other.

6. Mind the front

And the best tip for last - always ride at the front of Docklands Light Railway trains. They're unmanned, so you can sit right up against the front window and indulge your suppressed train driver fantasies... or maybe that's just me.

Also see these earlier musings about the Tube and related topics: