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Tube Secrets

Smart ways around the tube system

From my many hours of tube challenging and thinking about the quickest ways around the tube system, you come to realise that there are quite a few shortcuts to be taken .. from trains used to physical interchanges between lines at stations. Here are a few I'm happy to share ...

The Victoria line is faster than the Northern on a cross-London journey

If your trip starts below Stockwell and finishes somewhere beyond Euston, then it is quicker not to stay on the Northern Line for your journey - instead, use the Victoria Line, as it's quicker!

e.g. You're going from Tooting Broadway to Hampstead. Change at Stockwell and take the Victoria Line to Euston, and change there back onto the Northern Line. On average it's about 6 minutes quicker going this way.

This obviously works in reverse too, starting somewhere at the top of the Northern Line and finishing somewhere on the southern stretch.

Piccadilly Line faster than District Line

On the section between Earl's Court and Acton Town, Piccadilly Line trains only stop at Baron's Court and Hammersmith, whilst District Line trains stop at an additional five stations ... making the Piccadilly the faster way to go. Most people know this, but here's a couple of things I bet you hadn't realised.

If you're at Chiswick Park wanting to head east ... but a westbound train arrives first ... go west! Get a District Line train west one stop to Acton Town, then head east into central London on a Piccadilly Line train, it's quicker than waiting for the eastbound train.

Guess what? The reverse works too at West Kensington. If you want to go west but an eastbound train arrives first, go east on the District Line, then change down to the Piccadilly Line and speed your way west.

This technique works well on other parts of the map too ... the Victoria Line is quicker than the PIccadilly and has less stops up in the Finsbury Park area. On match days for Arsenal, you'll do yourself a favour when you get to King's Cross by getting the Victoria Line up to Finsbury Park and then back down one stop to Arsenal. It's slightly faster (if the change is immediate), and you've more chance of getting a seat, too.

Central Line faster than Piccadilly Line

But the Piccadilly line isn't always the fastest. I know someone who commutes regularly from their local station (Alperton) to their job at Holborn, and they did what most logical people would do .. .take a direct Piccadilly Line train. However, it's actually faster by five minutes (and this works if you get on at Park Royal too), to get out at North Ealing, walk five minutes along the street to West Acton and pick up the Central Line there to get to Holborn instead.

However, don't do this if you are using Pay-as-you-Go Oyster (as apposed to a Travelcard) as you'll be charged for two seperate journeys, as this isn't an officially recognised 'on foot' TFL interchange.

North of Alperton, if you normally get the tube from Subury Hill or Sudbury town, then it's quicker to use the National Rail services into Paddington to get into central London.

Lancaster Gate PaddingtonUse the Central Line for Paddington Station.

If you (say) live in Essex, and want to go to Paddington to get the Heathrow Express to get a plane, the quickest way to get to Paddington from Liverpool Street is NOT to go around the top of the Circle Lane.

Instead, get the much quicker central line through to Lancaster Gate station, as Paddington is just 90 seconds walk away to the north.


Wimbledon to Edgware Road ... via Gloucester Road. The triangle of power!

If you're coming up from Wimbledon on the District Line heading to Edgware Road, and you are on a City/Upminster bound District Line train, you'll probably change at Earl's Court and wait for the next District Line train ... which may not be an Edgware Road one.

It can be risky, but sometimes it's faster to go on one stop to Gloucester Road and get a Circle Line train going back in the other direction to complete your journey. This is the 'Triangle' between Earl's Court, Gloucester Road, and High Street Kensington!

Once you realise that, you realise other things too. i.e. - Travelling south through High Street Ken and heading for Wimbledon? If there's no District Line train shown, then again ... go to Gloucester Road and pick up a westbound District Line train there.

If you're heading west through Gloucester Road wanting to go up to High St. Ken and beyond, and there's no Circle Line train, head west on a District and you might be quicker then changing there for an Edgware Road bound District train - it can work from any direction!

The nearest tube station for Regent's Park Zoo is ...

... not Regents Park! You'll want to go to Camden Town instead. The Zoo is at the top of the park and Regents Park station (which you would assume would be the station to use) is at the bottom of the park and a longer walk!

Just as intriguing, if you're going to the actual Turnham Green (the grassy recreational area), then Chiswick Park is nearer, Turnham Green station is not the one to use.

Avoid the congestion when changing at Camden Town

Frequent Northern Line commuters know of the mess and pain that is changing at Camden Town. There is that little area at the bottom of the escalators/stairs where everybody congregates looking at the 'Next train' board. Well if you know where you're going, then avoid the crowds by using the other cross-platform corridor.

It's at the southern end of the station. So if you're traveling north - be right at the back of train. And if you're travelling south - be at the front of the train. And you'll find a totally uncongested corridors and stairs that lead to all four platforms with the same signs and 'Next Train' indicators that the other area has .. only without all the people.

Going to Aldgate or Aldgate East?

They're so close together, it doesn't really matter which one you're going to. I've known people wait for a delayed Hammersmith & City line train, whilst letting Metropolitan and Circle Line train goes by. Don't Get the first train that comes, go to either Aldgate or Aldgate East, and walk the rest of the way.

Bank InterchangeBank is very close to Mansion House, Cannon Street and Monument

Bank is often linked with Monument, which is bizarre because Cannon Street is actually closer.

I've known people change at Bank to Monument, and then complete their journey on a stop or two more by going to Cannon Street or Mansion House.


Just ... Get out at Bank, and walk the rest of the way - it's quicker.

Changing between the Piccadilly Line and Northbound Bakerloo at Piccadilly Circus

There is a small 'secret' stairwell which is badly advertised, meaning you can change lines in a few seconds here.

Bakerloo ShortcutBe in 2,1 if travelling eastbound, or 2,3 if travelling westbound on the Piccadilly (the platforms are not in matching alignment). Go up the steps and there is a short staircase which take you up to the Northbound Bakerloo platform.

Coming in reverse, be in 2,3 in a Northbound Bakerloo line train, and ignore the sign that says 'Emergency Exit only', and go down the steps through to the Piccadilly line platforms.

Eastbound District to Piccadilly Lines at Earl's Court

Be in the very front carriage of an eastbound District Line train. Do not go up the exit steps, instead - tucked around the back of them is a spiral staircase which takes you down to the Piccadilly Line platforms. It's always empty and is quicker if you're happy to walk down rather than being with all the crowds on the normal advertised route which takes you down the escalators.

Victoria to Central Line at Oxford Circus

If you follow the advertised route to change between these lines, it takes you 232 steps - I've counted. But if you're right at the back of a northbound VIctoria Line train, or right at the front of a southbound one, there is a sneaky-more-direct passage that only takes 156 steps down to the Central Line platforms.

Admittedly, it's the tunnel that people walk UP from the Central to the Victoria, but it's still quicker even when there are people coming towards you, and there's no law that says you can't go down a passage even if it's signed saying otherwise.

'Secret' corridor at Kings Cross, between Piccadilly and Northern Line

There used to be a secret and hardly-used corridor at King's Cross. At the front end of the train on southbound Northern Line trains was a passage that took you through to the Piccadilly Line platforms. However, when the station was rebuilt in 2009, they put gates across it and used is as an area to hold building equipment.

I'm mentioning it here, because i'm hoping that once the building work has finished at King's Cross, they'll re-open it ...

Know your platforms on the Piccadilly Line at Holborn

As you're walking down to the Piccadilly Line at Holborn, the most useless sign appears. It tells you that Platform 3 is to the right and Platform 4 is straight on - but at no point before this point in the corridor has it mentioned which is which. It's until you get further along that you have to stop and read the sign that says Platform 3 is Westbound and go to straight on for Eastbound trains.

Useless Holborn Sign

It would make morse sense if next to these arrows instead of '3' and '4' it said 'Westbound' and 'Eastbound'.

Just for fun

It's just about possible to run faster than a District Line train .. just. Back in 2004 and 2005 a group of city businessmen got off a Wimbledon bound District Line train at South Kensington and ran down the Old Brompton Road (all 1.2 miles of it) to West Brompton station ... and managed to 'make' the same District Line train - often a train will sit and wait for a driver change, or signal delay at Earl's Court which helps you make it.

And some cool things to see

Go to White City on the Central Line. Take an eastbound train towards Shepherd's Bush as you enter the tunnel look out the left hand side of the train, and see the white lights of the depot light up the underworld like a sparkling Christmas tree!

When travelling east on the District Line train between Tower HIll and Aldgate east, look left out of the train, and you'll see that you'll pass with a few feet of Aldgate station, and you will see the whole station and trains sat at the platform glide past .. close, but you don't stop!

At Piccadilly Circus on the Bakerloo line is an example of how you don't realise there is another tube line behind the wall you are staring at. Go to the northern end of the platforms and there is half a train length where there is no wall, and you can look across to the other tube tunnel platform!

Head west on a Metropolitan Line train from Great Portland Street, and as it curves at the junction for Baker Street, look left out of the window and see the Circle Line track carrying on straight, and the lovely lit up view of the Circle/Hammersmith & City branch of Baker Street.

On the eastbound platform at Chancery Lane on the Central Line. You might have to stoop/lean slightly but far in the distance down the tunnel you can see the lights of St.Pauls in the distance! This reminds me of the Paris Metro where all the stations are close enough to each to be seen in the central area, but this rarely happens on the tube,