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Willing to take the abuse - Dumb Question #987


Aug 29th, 2003, 02:52 AM
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Willing to take the abuse - Dumb Question #987

Alright, I am perfectly willing to take the odd snicker and the loud guffaw to ease my mind so here goes. Keep the laughter to a minimum. I am an admitted troglodyte and am coming out of my cave for the first time. So be kind:

Could you give me a word-picture (an oxymoron?) of the underground tube in London? How does one know which is the "Central Line" or the "District Line"? I - clearly a deprived traveler - have never been on a subway. [Insert appropriate laughter here]

After seeing pictures (after the blackout) of Victoria Station, I have a sudden acute awareness that I won't have a clue which train to hop aboard to head from Victoria Station on the District Line to Earl's Court! I will be totally lost!

The adventure begins! I have looked over the layout of the system (Central Line goes in a circle, so I guess I can just ride around until someone - I assume - announces "Earl's Court - next stop" but do they announce the station stops? Do you look for signs? Are therre signs in the rail cars? (sigh)

Wish me luck and glad I could offer fodder for a good laugh this norming,

Dietdoctor is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2003, 03:04 AM
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Ron, I feel for you! Luckily, the tube map is one of the world's great design inventions, made to be easy to follow. All are colour coded (although it's the CIRCLE line which goes in a circle)

Go down the steps at Victoria tube station (Train station is above) and follow signs for District Line. Take 'Westbound' train 4 stops to Earls Court. You can take any train as Earls Court is the last station before the trains go in all different directions. It is likely that the train will linger a bit longer at the platform to give people time to transfer (as it is a transfer station). There are signs for Earls Court on the platform and it is likely that someone will be shouting 'Earls Court' over the intercom.

Hope that helps

Good luck!!
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Aug 29th, 2003, 03:05 AM
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Hi DD,

It's not a bad question.

See if http://www.iamcal.com/misc/londonbloggers/

ira is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2003, 03:07 AM
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Don't worry, there are millions of signs everywhere, in the station and on the platforms, indicating which line and which direction.

IIRC, most of the lines also announce each stop as you approach. If not: at each stop, you can look out the window and see where you are, so just make a note of which stop is the one before the one that you want, so you can be ready! Plus, usually the trains are crowded enough that there is a minute at each stop to orient yourself and get off, if it comes to that, but it won't.

One of my favorite feaqtures was the overhead lighted signs that tell you which train is coming next and when it will arrive!
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Aug 29th, 2003, 03:15 AM
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When you are standing/sitting in the car, above your head is a strip map of the route you are following, with all of the stops listed. Merely count off the stops as you pass them and get off when yours comes round. I mentally count them down as my stop approaches. As many of the stops have names of famous locations, you can feel that you are travelling under history.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 03:16 AM
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It occurs to me that if you've taken regular trains but never been in a subway, you might not realize that because of the tunnels (tubes!), the layout is very different from a train station. You won't find lots of parallel tracks and gates, like a train station; each route and direction has its own place, so signs that show where to go can be plentiful and permanent.

If you are taking a line that splits into different destinations, and are going beyond the split, you do have to be careful to get on the right one, but you'll be informed of this as the train enters the station if not sooner.

I'm very accustomed to subways in various cities, but as the poster above noted, the stylized map of London's tube is eminentaly readable; indeed, many cities in the US have imitated its style. One thing to be aware of, though is that it is not "to scale," that is, the distances between stations are not "accurate."

I found it very helpful to have a street map of London that showed not only the tube stations, but also the colored lines between them, for strategizing routes.

Because the system is old and was built instages, sometimes switching between two different lines underground can involve quite a hike. Perhaps there's a source that can alert you to which transfers are the farthest; once in a while, it felt as though we were walking to our final destination! Because of this, the rule of thumb when you're calculating trip length is to allow 3 minutes per station and 15 minutes per transfer.

Also, of course, the Brits are nice people and you can stop nearly anyone and ask for help if you get confused.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 04:10 AM
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The good news is that, as a solo traveler and with your blithe naivete, it's likely that you're going to meet someone attractive, that special someone who'll introduce you to the Facts of Life - read: The London Underground.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 04:15 AM
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AllyPally: GOOD "wood picture!" Thank you!

ira: AS always, thanks for the reply and the very detailed link.

Anonymous: Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! You have been a wonderful help. You're right (second message); I did have this vision of 24 tracks all lined up in rows! (sigh)

stephen1957: Will look for the overhead signs. Thank you!

TuckH: We can only hope! (wink)

Many thanks to all who took the time to reply. London or Bust! (September 16th!)

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Aug 29th, 2003, 04:23 AM
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I understand what it's like to be a first-timer, so I'll explain it as best I can.

If you know the name of the stop you want, look on a tube map to see which line takes you there. Luckily, they are color coded, so you can see if it's brown, yellow, green, whatever line. If there's not a direct route there from teh stop you are already at, then figure out which lines already serve the station you are at, and find the easiest station to transfer at.

Once you go down the stairs, there will be signs pointing you to the District, Cirle, etc. lines (usually with the proper color associated with it) and once you get closer to the platforms the signs will tell you in which direction the trains are going (towards the furthest eastbound stop or westbound stop for instance), and then it will list EVERY SINGLE STOP that the train will make. So if you don't see your stop listed under one sign, look to see if it's listed under the sign for the train on the same line going in the opposit direction.

Once you are standing at the platform waiting for your train, there will be a sign at that platform telling you which stops the train makes, also. So you have some time while you are waiting to double check. You just have to make sure that you get on the right one if it happens to be a station where different trains use the same track.

And the best part--It's all in English!

Have fun
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Aug 29th, 2003, 05:00 AM
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While I live in NYC, I am a not ashamed to say that I am a wimp of epic porportions and will not take the subway.
BUT, I have taken the Tube in London, the Metro in Paris, the RER in Paris and the Washington DC subways (I proudly exclaim!)
The first train I ever took was the London Tube. I was just amazed at how easy it was! Right down to the way you stick your ticket in the turnstile thing and it pops back up for you after you have gone through.
Everything is color coded, you can follow the colors in the tiles in the walls , the floor, the stripes in the trains!
Just Mind the Gap and keep an eye out for your stop by watching the stops thing over your head on the train
(hope I wasn't too technical ..lol)
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Aug 29th, 2003, 05:20 AM
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Allovereurope: Many things for the details on the London tube. I am starting to have a really good "mental picture" (most say I am quite "mental") of what to expect. Thanks for taking the time.

Scarlett: I have heard this SO many times: What exactly does "Mind the Gap" mean? (grin)


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Aug 29th, 2003, 05:49 AM
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The gap between the platform and the train, I believe. It is where you don't want to step. Also, the time you don't want to drop something is when you cross it.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 05:54 AM
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mrwunrfl" Thank God! I was afraid I was about to go to London and not know the meaning of the (apparently) most common phrase there! (grin)

I will, quite assuredly, MIND THE GAP!


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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:00 AM
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You'll hear recorded announcements to "Mind the gap", especially in older stations where the platform is on a curve in the tracks. When a train stops here, the gap between the platform and the rail car can be wider than normal.

So "watch your step" and "mind the gap"...

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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:10 AM
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Thanks for willing to take the abuse, DietDoctor....now I have a follow up question.....how hard will it be for me to take my 1 roll on...on the tube from Heathrow to Waterloo ....after 9;30. Is it usually really crowded and will be hard to manage luggage?
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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:12 AM
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Actually, that used to be the reason for the announcement. Nowadays, London Transport continues the practice because it amuses Americans, and Brits and others are amused by the Americans' response to the announcement. LT feels it makes for a happier environment during the interminable wait for the next train.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:14 AM
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The Tube also has its own website at http://tube.tfl.gov.uk/. This gives lots of info including tube maps. It's handy to look at the map, not just to find out where it goes, but also to get familiar with the colour designations of the different lines: on all tube maps the Northern Line is black, for example; central is red etc.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:43 AM
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And how many of us have been to EVERY tube station? Last year in London I found a book called 'Tunnel Vision', a novel about a tube buff who makes a bet with a mate that he can visit every station in ONE day. It's a fun book with lots of info on the tube and how the schedules and stations work!
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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:44 AM
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I've always found the station attendants at their windows to be very helpful if you need advice.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 07:01 AM
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These days, though I'd not thought of it before, I'd take a small torch (flashlight). Last night there was a power cut in London which brought the Underground to a standstill during rush hour, and passengers had to be evacuated from the trains, just as in New York a couple of weeks ago. Unbelievably the Underground doesn't have its own backup power supply so there was tremendous disruption even though the outage was only for an hour. Anyway, a torch is going in my handbag from now on!
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