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Transportation in London and train to Edinburgh

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Mar 19th, 2012, 01:51 PM
  #1
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Transportation in London and train to Edinburgh

If we are only going to use the tube or bus to get from Bloomsbury to the Tower of London and maybe one other trip, should we get Oyster cards, etc.? I would like to try a traditional black cab at some point and figure a short trip would be most cost effective. I am thinking either for dinner out one night or to Kings Cross station from our hotel in Bloomsbury. What is the consensus?

Also, we bought our train tickets online and have to pick them up at the self service machine. Should we do that early in our visit or pick them up the morning we leave? How early should we get to the station for our train on a Sunday morning?

Thanks again for your help!
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Mar 19th, 2012, 03:01 PM
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How long will you be in London?

For public transportation, there are all kinds of permutations- you can simply load some cash on an Oyster (which is what I do), or buy a travel card, I'm absolutely clueless myself but there are lots of posters here who know the system. You should do a search for older threads, and also study the tfl website.

If you want to take a black cab, then taking one home after dinner and drinks makes sense to me. If you ask your hotel to prearrange a car service/taxi to take you to the train station, there's a good chance it will just be a regular car and not a black cab. At least that's been my experience.

I like to aim to arrive at the station approx. 1 hour before departure, which is probably a bit excessive but I prefer to plan for delays on the tube or in traffic, and give myself time to fiddle around the station before boarding.

You shouldn't have any trouble picking up your tickets at the station before you board.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 12:25 AM
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You need to search "2 for 1" on this site. But as far as just transport's concerned:

If you're sure you're going to be using only buses, you're probably deluding yourself. But if only buses are being used, you don't absolutely need, for transport, a card. You'll need to buy, with coins at the stop, tickets for each individual journey. Tickets cannot be bought on buses in central London.

If you're using the tube, a single ticket within central London is £4.30 cash, £2.00 bought on Oyster or nothing at all if you've got an Oyster card and have already paid your daily maximum.

I honestly can't begin to imagine why anyone would spend time in London without an Oyster or one-day Travelcard. Acquiring an Oyster costs nothing, except a deposit that's refundable when you leave.

There's absolutely no point arriving at a British railway station more than 15 mins before departure. Kings Cross is tiny, and it can't take even an illiterate blind person speaking only Cantonese and with severe mobility problems more than 3 minutes to find the platform. It's virtually impossible to be allowed onto a train more than 10 mins before it leaves.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 02:05 AM
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To avoid any potential areas of anxiety, all you need do is find the information displays listing departures, which will show the platform you need (there is no airport-style security or any potential hold-up other than putting your ticket into a machine reader (you can use any, so there shouldn't be queues to get on to the platforms, which are all on a level with the concourse).

Slight gloss: Kings Cross is in the throes of a rebuild of its entrance and public concourses, which may confuse the issue a bit. The new concourse at one side is due to open in the next couple of weeks, so presumably the existing rather cramped area on the front will be closed while they revamp that.

No doubt signage from the tube will make it easy to find where you need to go, but personally I think 15 minutes might be cutting it fine for someone who's not been there before (anyway, I like to get myself a cup of tea to board with, rather than wait for the onboard buffet to open). As for picking up tickets, I've never had a problem picking them up from the machines (using the credit card I've bought them with), but for peace of mind you might want to do it in advance - it doesn't sound as though you're staying that far away. If you've any spare time you might want to drop in at the British Library to see their treasures gallery, and you could combine that with picking up your tickets.

Yes, get an Oystercard: all the fares are set to encourage you to do so.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 05:03 AM
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As a London native I agree with other posters... that buying an Oyster card and topping up PAYG is the best way forward. Just for clarification, an Oyster card will cap the money taken off at the price of a daily travelcard so you don't need to worry about potentially spending more than a travelcard per day. if you travel after 930am then you can avoid peak fares too.

flanneruk's suggestion of 2 for 1 is the main instance it might make sense to buy a day travelcard. You could buy two off peak travelcards and then gain 2 for 1 on entrance to the Tower of London. It has to be from a National Rail station (who promote the 2 for 1) and not London Underground stations.

The Kings Cross concourse opened a day early yesterday so should be a bit more free to navigate than it has recently. For taxis I find this site quite nifty and fairly accurate especially if you use post codes:

http://www.worldtaximeter.com/london
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Mar 20th, 2012, 05:51 AM
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Okay, what I meant was we are planning on walking mostly, just taking tube/bus transportation for long jaunts. I have a bit of claustophobia and would rather see the sights as I am out rather than going down into a dark tunnel. LOL

PatrickLondon: Yes, we are staying near the British Museum, but I do want to see the British Library, so was thinking that the station was across the street and we could get the tickets then. Thanks for the encouragement.

Loco2: Thank you for that link.

You all are so very helpful!!
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Mar 20th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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Some first comments on the new arrangements at Kings Cross:
http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/...ngs-cross.html
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Mar 20th, 2012, 08:32 AM
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London sights are pretty widespread. Consider taking the bus instead of the tube -- if buses don't bother you so much.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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It's virtually impossible to be allowed onto a train more than 10 mins before it leaves.>

then this must be a recent change in the past few years since I have ridden trains but I have never seen any train that you could not board ten minutes out - I wonder how many trains flanner has actually taken - or has the policy changed - don't think so and 10 minutes time when they close they doors I just do not believe and it would be so stooooopid to do so - yes they often closed the doors a minute or two top before take off - but still get there in a timely fashion.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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I allow extra time to get to the station as it only takes one delay and your "I'm going to arrive 15 minutes before the train leaves" becomes "I'm stuck on a Tube train when my train leaves".

As for other options to get to Edinburgh do consider the Caledonian Sleeper train whose Bargain Berths are truly a bargain as not only do you get transport, you also get a bed for the night saving on London accommodation costs and be in Edinburgh in plenty of time for a hearty breakfast.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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"I wonder how many trains flanner has actually taken "

A hell of a lot more than you, it seems

Now go and find some poor sucker to sell those hokey Eurail passes to.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 10:47 AM
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>> I have never seen any train that you could not board ten minutes out <<

Ten minutes sounds about the sort of timeframe at Kings Cross: they don't tell you till about then what platform your train will be at.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 11:13 AM
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For those of you NOT permanently incomprehensible as a result of a sad addiction to paint:

There are two ways you might board a train in Britain. If it's come from somewhere else, it stops at each intermediate station for somewhere between 1 and 2 minutes.

If, as is normal for intercity trains (except FCC trains to Luton and Gatwick) in central London, it starts its journey from the station concerned, the platform it's leaving from will be announced a maximum of 15 minutes, though more frequently 10 minutes and sometimes five mins or fewer, before departure, though boarding is allowed earlier on most overnight trains and some early morning departures. Access to platforms is frozen, when that's technically possible, 60 secs before departure, and doors are normally locked 30 secs before departure.

If you know a station well, you can often kill time if you've allowed an hour for tube delays and (as is usual) the tube's precisely on time, by using your Poirot skills to work out which platform your train's going to leave from, going there and being rewarded by seeing a paper poster in its windows telling you you detected right. Beats seeing how many inedible new variations the Original Cornish Pasty company has invented on what was once edible snack food, marvelling at the markups Paperchase demands on birthday cards, or trying to work out (if you take trains as often as I do) why every major London station has almost exactly the same shops.

The ONLY other diversion usually is identifying the statutory Public Art. From the obvious (Paddington Bear and Platform 9 3/4) to the harrowing (the Kindertransport statue at Liverpool St) to the Perfect Rejoinder (Betjeman at St Pancras massively upstaging the absurdly grandiose Meeting Place). Oddly, there's no handbag statue near the Victoria Left Luggage. Lady B is regally annoyed...
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Mar 20th, 2012, 03:23 PM
  #14
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mimar: From Bloomsbury to Westminster Abbey and around, walkable?? But I think to the Tower is a bit far, so that is why I am thinking only one ride is needed. And, yes, I am thinking of the bus.

alanRow: Already bought the tickets...I want to go during the day to see what England looks like. Everyone scared me from driving to Edinburgh.
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Mar 21st, 2012, 12:30 AM
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>>From Bloomsbury to Westminster Abbey and around, walkable??<<

A long walk. I'd do it by bus.

>>Oddly, there's no handbag statue near the Victoria Left Luggage. <<

I sense a public campaign coming on. What odds on Boris suddenly making it an election promise?
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Mar 21st, 2012, 10:11 AM
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And then Boris will be left holding the proverbial 'bag'?
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Apr 12th, 2012, 05:41 AM
  #17
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I have been researching the Tube and bus lines and have decided that it will not be *too* confusing. You all had convinced me to go with a car service from the airport when, at the last moment, I noticed that our hotel in Bloomsbury is very close to the Holborn stop on the Piccadilly line. So now I am thinking of buying the Oyster card at Heathrow and getting on the Tube since it is a straight shot, no transfers. Am I missing something???
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Apr 12th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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>>So now I am thinking of buying the Oyster card at Heathrow and getting on the Tube since it is a straight shot, no transfers. Am I missing something???<<

No, you´re not. There are some steps to get your luggage up at Holborn, and some narrow walkways that get quite claustrophobic in the rush hour, but only for a couple of minutes. After that it´s escalators all the way up.

>>And then Boris will be left holding the proverbial 'bag'?<<

He has, as they say, form in that department. And I don´t just mean:
http://autolycus-london.blogspot.com...ed-mayors.html
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Apr 29th, 2012, 02:48 PM
  #19
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Okay, new question. I have now decided to be bold and use the Tube and bus. How much should we put on the Oyster card to start? If we have money left on it, what happens?
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Apr 29th, 2012, 10:31 PM
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I go on around £5 per day. If your balance when you leave is less than £10 you can get it as cash and it's easy to add cash to an Oystercard if needed so there's no need to keep large balances on it.
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