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The Tube is the commonly known name for the London Underground. It is a system of mostly underground trains that run through the city. It goes out as far as Heathrow Airport on the west Side and as far as Upminster on the east side. There are 17 different lines on the Tube map and they each have their own colour so you can easily identify each line and where you want to go.
Bakerloo=Brown Central=Red Circle=Yellow District=Green East London=Orange Hammersmith & City=Pink Jubilee=Silver Metropolitan=Purple Northern=Black Piccadilly=Indigo Victoria=Blue Waterloo & City=Turquoise Docklands Light Railway (D.L.R)=Green (different colour to District) and White National Rail=White
Many underground stations have several different lines crossing through them.
It is also divided into 6 Zones-Central London is Zone 1 and Heathrow is Zone 6.
Fares: There are a wide variety of fares. Single Fares range between £2.00-£.3.80 and children get cheaper. Most visitors to London will buy a Day Travelcard. An off peak Adult Card for Zones 1 and 2 (Central London) is £4.30. The full range of fares can be found at http://tube.tfl.gov.uk/content/tickets/quickFares_2004.asp
The Oyster card is a type of electronic smart card. Apparently the advantages are that you canít accidentally de-magnetise them, they are easy and quick to use, are secure and you donít have to take it out of your purse or wallet. You can buy your Oyster online or at the Tube and recharge it (i.e. put more money on it) online or at a Tube station. It can also be used on buses. You can charge on to it Annual season tickets, monthly tickets, 7-day and Pre-pay. From what I have seen however a lot of Londoners are still using the paper tickets.
Travelcards are the cheaper way to travel if you live and work in London. A 7-day Travelcard for Zone One is £17.00 and a monthly Zone One and Two is £77.60. There is such a wide variety itís best if you check for yourself! The Tube website is very helpful. It also has details about student discounts etc
Underground Stations also have weird names. For example Oxford Circus. Who on Earth named it that? And Elephant and Castle. There is no elephant and there is no castle near by. And Seven Sisters? I mean whoever named these places must have been high. The foreign tourists must get very confused! On the Tube: So youíve got your ticket. Now put it through the slot at the gate/turnstile, it opens, take your ticket back and walk through. Itís a great idea to plan your journey in advance or face the wrath of an overweight City broker who walks into you! You donít want to get lost or injured! Follow directions. They are very, very useful. If youíre ticket does not go through and beeps DONíT try again. Simply make sure there is no one behind you and find a member of staff, show them your ticket and they will let you through!
You will be seeing many, many escalators. Stand on the right. The left is for people running/walking up. Londoners tend to get very annoyed at people who donít read the signs and who stand on the left!
On the platform donít stand round the exit. Move down the platform and stand clear of the yellow line! At the newer stations there will electronic signs telling you how long you will have to wait-about 2 or 3 minutes at most if there are no delays.
Let people get off the train first and walk on. You may or may not get a seat so be prepared to stand especially at rush hour. Now hardly anyone makes eye contact on the Tube and most people have a zombie like expression on their faces! Itís a good idea to take a book or something else to read. Like a free copy of the Metro. Or read the advertisements above peopleís head. Someone once said ĎIf God had intended commuters to talk He wouldnít have invented the Evening Standard.í This is an evening newspaper that costs 40 pence.
Saying that, there are sweet tales about people finding love on the tube. When you tend to catch the same trains, sit in the same places you get to know the other commuters by site. And you may even start talking to them!
It is nice (and good karma) to give your seat up to people who need it more than you. For example: pregnant ladies and elderly people.
Safety and Security: Donít leave baggage lying around as it will be taken away and blown up. There is advice to Tube travellers warning them to say ĎWho does this bag belong to?í In real life however they would see the bag, remain silent and move carriages. Is the Tube safe? Frankly, just being in London puts you at risk. So does stepping out of your house. You could get run-over by a bus. Even your own home is not 100% safe. If you let fear dictate your life you wouldnít even get out of bed! The police and other services are doing their up most to prevent terrorist attacks. Just be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour. I feel safe in London; there is a visible police presence as well as plain-clothes investigators.
Staff: The staff wears easily identifiable uniforms and there always seem to be plenty about. They get a lot of complaints off customers but I have found them to be hard working and helpful. If you need help just ask them and be polite. They are more likely to be more helpful if you smile and ask them politely. They wear blue uniforms and blue caps.
Buskers: There are now licensed buskers at many underground points and most of them are quite good. So why not give them a bit of change if you like them? Certainly brightens my day up if I hear some good music.
Comfort: The Tube can get hot and crowded. I recommend layering up and taking water to drink. Try not to faint or be sick! The escalators can go down a very long way and make you feel dizzy. You may want to take a lift instead. Some places can smell a bit. There is also no air conditioning.
Food: You have as much chance of getting a chocolate bar from the platform vending machines OR as your change back as winning the Lotto. It isnít advised to eat strong smelling foods on the tube, as you will stink the carriage out!
Toilets: There are no underground toilets. Some of the bigger stations have toilets and most of them are clean due to you having to pay a small sum, say 20 pence to use the facilities.
Accessibility: If you have accessibility problems I suggest you consult station staff or the website to find out what stations will be easiest for you.
The Jubilee line: If only all lines were like this: -clean and quick! There are glass panels down on the platforms to stop people throwing their selves on the track-sad but true.
Reasons for delays: People throwing themselves on the tracks, leaves on the line, the Ďwrong kind of rain,í strikes, snow, power cuts and derailments. Oh and animals on the line. There was a recent story of a dog escaping its owner. It was found eventually, safe but grimy!
The Bottom Line: Despite the expense and delays, the Underground works. There are whiteboards at the entrances to stations that warn you of delays. ĎGood serviceí is the best you can hope for! I havenít had any major problems recently; the most Iíve had to wait is 7 minutes. It is still the quickest way to get around London and can even be quite fun! People watching is enjoyable as is the whole hustle and bustle of London. You will soon get into the habit of the Tube and find yourself helping tourists. Iím not a Londoner but have visited it a lot and hope to be when I go to University there come September!