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How to use London transport: the tube

Use our step-by-step guide for beginners on how to use London's underground

How to use London transport: using the tube

London can seem scary and so can London’s transport. If you have never used the tube, here is a useful guide explaining how to use it.

Step 1: Keep left when walking around on the underground; especially when you are stood on the escalator. Escalator etiquette states that you must only be on the right hand side if you are walking down the escalator.

Step 2(a): You will then come to some ticket barriers, you can scan your card on the reader, or put your ticket in the slot, to get through the barriers.

A useful fact to know is that the barriers have a little light on them; if it is red, it means it is not working, if it is orange, it means it is ready to read your card or ticket, and once it has successfully read your card or ticket, the light will be green and the barriers will open.

Step 2(b): If your oyster card is not topped up enough, then the barriers will not open for you. There are ticket machines in all tube stations, where you can top-up your oyster card or purchase a Travelcard ticket.

Step 3: Once you are through the barriers and on the platform, there is a display board which tells you when the next tube is. If yours is not the next tube to arrive at the station, stand back to ensure that other people can get on their trains.

Step 4: When your tube arrives at the station, the tube doors will open automatically (if you are using the Jubilee line, then there will be doors that show you where the tube will stop, so you know where to stand when you’re getting on). Let the people off the tube first and then board.

Step 5: Walk onto the tube and find a seat or an appropriate standing space (depending on how busy it is, you may need to walk down the tube and stand in front of where people are sitting) and make sure that you have something to hold onto because the average speed of a tube is 21mph.

Step 6: The tube announces the stops upon arrival and there are also tube maps located around the trains, so that you know when to get off.

Step 7: When you want to get off, make your way to the nearest doors and wait until they open automatically.

Step 8: Follow the signs (either for the way out or for the other lines that are within the station).

Step 9: If you are exiting the tube station, make sure you have your card or ticket ready for the barriers in order to leave the station.

Fun fact: on average 2.7 million tube journeys are made every day!

For more information, or to check your tubes status, go to TFL's website.