The London Underground, or ‘tube’, operates between approximately 5am and 12:30am (11:30pm on Sundays). Train times can be viewed on the site but take note that they might not be exact. To avoid disappointment and an expensive cab ride, try not to aim for the last train home.
There are more than 13 tube lines that operate in and around London. The Tube’s world-famous logo, ‘the roundel’ (a red circle crossed by a horizontal blue bar), first appeared in 1908 and is clearly posted to indicate entrances. The system is divided in 6 radial zone. Every line has a name (Circle Line, Central Line…) and a colour on the iconic London Tube map. Trains generally run 2 – 5 minutes apart so unless there are engineering works you won’t have to wait long. It is unlikely that your journey will comprise only one mean of transport, but connections are easy.
It is highly recommended to purchase an Oyster Card for £5. Once you have this card you can add as much or as little credit to the card as you need. The Oyster Card gives you lower prices than if you were to pay for a single fare. You can pay as you go or buy a weekly fare. With pay as you go, the fare will be capped automatically at the price of a travel card (see below). To use it, you touch it on one of the readers as you walk in a tube/train station, you will also need to touch it on exit or you will be charged extra.
Off-Peak One-day Travelcard – valid from 9.30am Monday to Friday and all day (12.01am to 4.30am the following day) on weekends and public holidays:
- Zones 1 and 2 – adult £7.30
- Zones 1–4 – adult £8.00
- Zones 1–6 – adult £8.90
- Zones 1–9 – adult £12.10
Peak One-day Travelcard – valid for travel until 4.30am the following morning:
- Zones 1 and 2 – adult £8.80
- Zones 1–4 – adult £11
- Zones 1–6 – adult £16.40
- Zones 1–9 – adult £20.40
There are also weekly and monthly travel cards. Purchase tickets at any tube station or top up your Oyster Card online at http://www.tfl.gov.uk. Your company might provide you with a “season ticket loan” which allows you to buy a yearly ticket (around £1200 for zone 1-2), the company takes the cost back each monthly directly from your salary.
UK Visitors to London: Buy Oyster Cards in Advance. Save time by buying your Oyster Card online before you travel to London. Visitor Oyster Cards cost £13 and come fully charged with £10 credit.
London Underground maps are available at all tube stations and are very easy to read. You can also check out the map online.
When it comes to etiquette, Londoners are known for totally avoiding eye contact while riding the tube. People don’t acknowledge one another and tend to read one of the many free newspapers in the Tube and ignore all other passengers. However, always give your seat to someone in need. And remember to always keep right on the escalator.
Information is available, at all times via:
- Live departure boards on the internet (only on selected Tube lines)
- Mobile travel alerts
- Free personalised text alerts for Tube and DLR
- Weekend closures email or
- Get advance warning with free weekly emails
Visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/livetravelnews/realtime/tube/default.html for real time information, or navigate to the bottom of the page for Mobile Travel Alerts to sign up for these personalized alerts.