‘Switching lines’: the trickery of the London Underground
A short but very worthwhile addition to my ‘London starter pack’ post the other day concerns the beloved and beloathed tube system.
In short, don’t be fooled.
The concept of ‘switching lines’ in London is a liberal take on what you’d expect it to mean. Unfortunately it is not as joyous as some cities like Paris, Stockholm or Copenhagen where you simply walk across the platform to your next train. I mean, why be so pragmatic?
Having spent the last twelve minutes navigating the labyrinth that is Bank in order to connect from the eastbound Central Line to the District, I can safely say ‘switching lines’ is a far cry from reality in this town.
I’ve been living in London for nearly two years, yet I still don’t remember to really look into the platform connection time. And what a rookie error that is.
If I’m looking to condense this into a ‘tip for London newcomers’ it would be: don’t assume ‘switching lines’ is like a light. Actually look into how long it’ll take you.
The more I think about this the more I realise it’s a factor that needs real consideration on the underground. Because it’s not just Bank.
Switching from the Victoria Line to the Piccadilly at Green Park? That’s a treat. Hope you’ve got comfy shoes. Want to change at Paddington from The Hammersmith & City Line to the Bakerloo? That’s just shy of a kilometre.
And don’t get me started on there being two Northern Lines.
As someone who rarely catches the tube, my tip to any London freshmen would be find a topside form of transport. Walking is good for you. Bikes are great. And so on.
However, if you don’t have a choice, really tap into those station connections. Sometimes it’s faster to get back above ground and walk. And when you know the tube system that well, you're practically a local.