Taking the Tube is a convenient way of exploring London. The Tube, or London Underground, is the oldest subway system in the world. The services were started back in 10 January 1863, called the Metropolitan Railway, and today, the London Underground has 268 stations with about 400 km (250 miles) of tracks. One billion passengers used the London Underground network in 2007. The London Underground serves not only Greater London, but also Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.|
All the Tube services presently available are shown below:
How to use the London Underground
Buy your ticket either at a staffed ticket office, or as any of the ticket machines. If you are using the ticket machines, be aware that some of the machines accept only coins, though newer ones accept coins, banknotes and even major credit cards and debit cards. These machines can even provide change. Some, however, don't accept cash, and can only take cards.
Travelcard and Oyster Card
The ticket for riding the London Underground comes in two forms, a paper, printed version called Travelcard, and a plastic smartcard with an embedded chip, called Oyster Card.
The Travelcard has a magnetic strip and are available with stored value for single-fare, one-day and three-day uses. To store value for seven days or more, get the Oyster Card.
The Oyster Card is a contactless smartcard. To use it, just tap or hover it over the sensor to register. The Oyster Card has a proximity range of about 8cm (3 inches). The government is encouraging the use of the Oyster Card by allowing users to significant discount over the Travelcard. For example, traveling within Zone 1 costs £4 on a single-fare ticket, but only £1.50 using Oyster. You can store up to £90 on the Oyster Card and top up on the value. The Oyster Card can also be registered to secure it from theft.
Both the Travelcard and Oyster Card are inter-modal tickets allowing you to use the services of buses, trains and trams of the following providers:
Docklands Light Railway
Fares on the London Underground is calculated by zones. Greater London is divided into 6 zones, with Zone 1 being the most central, following the route of the Circle Line, while Zone 6 is the outermost and includes Heathrow Airport. Zones 7 - 9 are outside Greater London. To know more about fares and tickets of the London Underground, read the Guide to Fares and Tickets (pdf).
Liverpool Street Tube Station, Central Line Platform
Photo: Spsmiler (public domain)
Interactive Tube Maps
London Underground Travelcard
Photo: Matt Whitby (public domain)
Day Travelcard issued by the National Rail
Photo: Liftarn (Creative Commons 2.5)
View inside the train (London Underground Jubilee Line)
Photo: Jcornelius (GFDL)
London Underground Street Sign
Photo: Jon Sullivan (public domain)