A First Time Passenger’s Guide to the London Underground

The London Underground (also known as the tube) is quick and easy to use once you get the hang of it, but it can be intimidating for first-time passengers who have never used the tube before. What should a first-time passenger know about using the tube?

Study a Tube Map

A tube map is easy to read and will help you get your bearings and map out your journey from point A to point B. Maps can be obtained from London travel guide books, hotel lobbies, and in bus and train stations.

Use the colour-coded key at the bottom of the tube map for easy reference to help you locate which line(s) you will need to get to your destination, and whether there are any restrictions to travel (some lines only run during peak hours or on Sundays).

Trains Run Regularly

Tube trains are fast and efficient. If you miss your connection, just wait for another one to come along. Tube trains run every 1-5 minutes, which means you will not normally have to wait around for too long for a train to arrive.

However, if you need to make a connection or plan to travel during busy periods, such as rush hour, be prepared for a longer than usual wait for a train.

Purchasing Tickets or Travelcards

London Underground passengers have the choice of purchasing tickets (single or return) from the ticket office or automatic machine each day or they can make a one-time purchase of a Travelcard, which will allow them daily, weekly or monthly passes to travel around the London Underground, buses and other means of London transport. Travelcards can be purchased from train or London Underground stations, at newsstands and elsewhere. Weekly Travelcard passengers will also require a photocard when they travel.

Gaining Access to the Tube

Once you have purchased your ticket or Travelcard, feed it into the slot of the machine as you enter the station. When you withdraw the ticket or Travelcard the gate will open, allowing you to enter. If you have purchased a return journey ticket, keep hold of the ticket until after you have completed your journey. The platforms are located past the barriers.

Follow the signs until you reach the right platform and wait for your train to arrive. Keep a lookout for displays that show and regularly announce when the next trains are coming. These also display the estimated arrival time of trains.

Disembarking from the Tube

Most of the train doors will open automatically once the trains have pulled into the station, but there are some that need to be manually opened. Look for a sign that states you need to push the button for the doors to open. If you do not see a sign, just wait for the doors to open.

Once you get off the train, follow the signs for “Way Out” (the exit) or signs that direct you to a different platform if you need to connect to a different line.

Using the tube to get around London is quick and easy. Take the time to study a tube map in advance and to plan out your journey and then purchase your ticket or Travelcard in advance. If you are having any difficulty, ask for assistance at the ticket counter or from a clerk.