London Toolkit (Spanish Pages)

The London Underground - 2015 Fares And How To Use

Be Informed And In Control Using London's Underground / Metro System

Earls Court Underground Station London

Earls Court Underground Station


Official Web Site of the London Underground


For the visitor to London the Underground or Tube will probably be the transport of choice to get around town. The Underground is normally the fastest way to get around town, often much faster than any taxi.

There is invariably an underground station nearby where you want to go and also your hotel, (there are currently 12 underground lines) and finding yourself around the system really is very easy.

Key points about the London's Underground are:

  • The authorities penalise you heavily for buying single journey tickets. (In the very centre you can pay more than double the price than if you used an Oyster Card for example).

  • A single journey on the London Underground can involve 1 or 2 changes of train. Your journey starts when you go through the ticket barrier of the station entrance you depart from and finishes when you pass through the ticket barrier at the exit of your destination. You cannot break a journey on a single fare, once you go though an exit barrier of a station that is journey completed.

  • The buses, Underground, DLR and London suburban trains are managed by a central government body called Transport For London chaired by the mayor of London. The transport passes that nearly everyone uses, Oyster and Travelcard, allow you to travel seamlessly across all modes of transport, bus, Underground, train and DLR using the same ticket/pass.

  • Children under 11 travel free on the London Underground and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) at all times. Child fares are available for those under 16 and it is possible to get discounted fares if you are under 18 or studying in London with an ID card.

  • There are no seniors fares for visitors. If you reside in London and are over 60 you can get a pass that makes free bus and Underground travel available. If you have an English National Concessionary bus pass you cannot use it on the London Underground, ( but you can use it on London's red buses).

  • Very crudely the London Underground is closed from around midnight until around 5 a.m., getting started a little later on Sundays. In Central London there is a very good night bus network when the Underground is closed.

  • You will rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes for an Underground train at any time of the day.

London Public Transport Journey Planner

London Journey Planner

Use the TFL (Transport For London) journey planner linked from icon on the left to plan your journeys. The journey planner covers all public transport.

London Undergrond Map

The London Underground Map is a classic design that when first launched was immediately taken up worldwide for similar systems. The clarity, simplicity and ease of use compromises strict geographical accuracy. The Circle Line doesn't really go around in a squashed circle and its not apparent for instance that Bayswater Underground is only 100 yards from Queensway.


London also has a very large commuter railway network, south of the river, the railway is dominant not the Underground. The Tube and Rail map integrates the two networks onto one map and also includes the Docklands Light railway which though not strictly correct can be thought of as part of the London Underground. In the last few years the railways lines have at a very slow pace become more integrated with the bus and Underground networks and now on the vast majority of rail lines in London you can use Oyster and Travelcards to travel as well as being valid on the buses and Underground.

The Tube and rail Map usefully shows which railway stations are in which travel zones. (Travel zones are the basis for fare charges on London's railways and Underground system).

London Underground Fares

Fare Zones

The London public transport system is divided up into zones that radiate from the centre. Nearly all the hotels and the main sights are in Zone 1. Heathrow Airport is in zone 6 and the furthest zone out is zone 9.

For the vast majority of visitors you will only travel in the two most central zones 1 and 2.

The Underground Map (link above) has the stations and their zones marked.

Some stations like Turnham Green are in two zones, you use whichever zone for these stations is most beneficial in working out your fare.

Underground Fares

You can see from the table below there is big financial incentive not to purchase individual tickets and use an Oyster card or contactless payment card.

The other main way of paying is purchasing a Travelcard, which is a pass giving you unlimited travel for a set time period. The cost goes up with the coverage of zones required. The more zones you require the more expensive the Travelcard.

London Underground Fares 2015 (From January 2nd)

Zones Travelled

Single Journey Ticket

Oyster / Contactless Payment Card~

Adult

Child†

Peak*

Off Peak

Zone 1

£4.80

£2.40

£2.30

£2.30

Zone 1 & 2

£4.80

£2.40

£2.90

£2.30

Zone 1 To 3

£4.80

£2.40

£3.30

£2.80

Zone 1 To 4

£5.80

£2.90

£3.90

£2.80

Zone 1 To 5

£5.80

£2.90

£4.70

£3.10

Zone 1 To 6

£6.00

£3.00

£5.10

£3.10

Zone 2 To 6

£5.80

£2.90

£2.80

£1.50

No return fares.

† Children travel free if under 11 year old or are between 11 and 15 years with an Oyster 11-15 Photocard

~ Childrens fares (11-15 yrs old) on Oyster for any trip within zones 1 to 6 is £0.75 off peak, £0.80 peak

* Peak fares apply Monday to Friday between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. except public holidays

Oyster Cards, Contactless Payment Cards & Travelcards

Travelcard or Oyster Cards In London Discussion

As you can see from the above fare structure the authorities do not want you to buy single tickets, they want you to purchase one of the three payment options Oyster Cards, contactless payment cards or Travelcards.

The Oyster card is a permanent reusable electronic ticket which is topped up from time to time by its owner. Londoners also have their season tickets loaded onto Oyster Cards as well and there are passes for one weekly and monthly durations. All can be loaded onto the one electronic Oyster card.


Contactless cards are standard credit or debit cards that support the contactless payment technology, the total cost of all the journeys that you make in one day is calculated at the end of the day and a single charge is made to your contactless payment card account.

Unlike the Oyster Card the contactless facility has a 7 day cap as well as the Oyster daily cap used by Oyster.

You can use Oyster Cards on all of London's public transport, not just the Underground, Buses, Overground, DLR, suburban rail services and some river services.


Travelcards are another alternatives. Travelcards are valid on the same modes of transport but are unlimited travel passes for a fixed flat fee. Travelcards are available for 1 and 7 days, 1 month and 1 year durations.

You can purchase and subsequently top up Oyster cards and Travelcards from Underground Stations and a wide variety of other outlets throughout London including neighbourhood stores, but not contactless payment cards.

Oyster Cards - More Details

Contactless Payment Cards - More Details

Travelards - More Details

Seniors Concessions

There are no seniors fares for visitors. If you reside in London and are over 60 you can get a Freedom pass or 60+ Oyer ID Card that makes free bus and Underground travel available. You can apply on-line or get a form from your local Post Office.

Anybody with an English National Concessionary bus pass can use that on London's red buses but not the Underground.

Child Concessions

This is a very complex subject and is covered in detail at the foot of the page.

In crude terms a child is defined as under 16 years old, but in the last couple of years it has been possible to get child fares after jumping through a few hoops up to the age of 17.

Children under 11 can travel free on the London Underground, DLR and buses without a ticket. If a child is between 11 and 15 years old you require an Oyster 11-15 Photocard (which has a fee see below). This allows 11 to 15 year olds to travel at child fares on the Underground, DLR, Overground and some trains, free on the buses.

If you are a short term visitor (in London for up to 14 days) with kids between 11-15 you can take advantage of the Young Visitor Discount. This means you can get half price fares on an Oyster Card on a temporary basis for your child without going through the hoops and expense of getting an Oyster ID card. You do need to read carefully the rules of this scheme though.

Child Fares - More Details

London Group Travelcard Public Transport Tickets

Group Tickets - 1 Day Group Travelcard For Groups Of 10 Or More

This ticket is for groups of 10 or more travelling together.

This in scope is the same as a 1 day off-peak Travelcard for zones 1-6 and 1-9 providing unlimited travel on all services after 9.30 Monday to Friday and all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays

The pricing is particularly attractive if you have kids in the group and those staying in one of the outer zones.

If you are a group of 10 or more then you really should look at this product. Click through on the blog link right for more details.

Purchasing Tickets & Fares Levied

There is a manned ticket office at all stations. The ticket offices accept credit and debit cards and also sell the Travelcard travel pass, group tickets and Oyster Cards most people will want to use.

Next to the manned ticket offices are always at least one bank of automatic ticket machines (see picture right).

These can you save you a lot of time if there are queues at the manned ticket office. Ticket offices take credit and debit cards as well as cash.

London Underground Ticket Machine

From the ticket offices 1 day Travelcards and group tickets can be bought up to 7 days before first date of travel. 7 day Travelcards and longer 30 days. From ticket machines 1 day Travelcards and group tickets have to be bought on the day. 7 day Travelcards and longer up to 4 days prior.

There are also machines to top up your Oyster Cards or see what the balance is on your Oyster Card, again you can get the ticket office to do this.


The fare you pay is set by which zone your departure and destination stations are in. Your journey starts when you go through the ticket barrier of the station entrance you depart from and finishes when you pass through the ticket barrier at the exit of your destination. You cannot break a journey on a single fare, once you go though an exit barrier of a station that is journey completed.


London Oyster Card and Travelcards For Sale On-line

Access To Platform & Luggage

London Underground Ticket Barrier London Underground Wide Ticket Barrier

Standard & Wide Barriers

To gain access to the platforms, and again to exit a station you have to pass through automatic barriers, (pictured right). There is always one wide ticket barrier for wheelchairs, pushchair's and people with large suitcases.


If you have a single ticket, the barrier at your destination will not return your ticket. There is a manned side gate by the barriers. If you have a Travelcard you insert the Travelcard into the same slot as for the single tickets, the barrier will check that your Travelcard is valid for both date and zones travelled.


If you have an Oyster Card or contactless payment card you swipe the card over a bright yellow pad, the barrier will check validity and will record the station you have started your journey before opening the barrier. The barrier may display the balance on your Oyster too.

At your destination station, exiting through the barrier in effect tells the system you have ended your journey and it works out the fare to be deducted from your card.

Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Trains

To the east of London in the Docklands region you will see a region covered by something called the DLR (Docklands Light railway). You can treat this network as just another Underground line.

The trains themselves are very different, but ticketing and access is totally integrated with the Underground system and their fundamental role as a high frequency mass transit transport is the same.

Children's Fare Concessions
- Children Under 5

Children under five can travel free at any time on the Tube, DLR, buses and trams as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. You do not need a ticket for free travel. Children in this category do not need Oyster ID Cards*.

- Children 5-10

Under-11s can travel free at any time on buses and trams without the need for a Oyster ID Card*. You do not need a ticket for free travel.

They can also travel free at any time on the Tube and DLR when they are travelling with an adult who has a valid ticket. Up to 4 children under 11 years old accompanied by a paying adult travel free on the London Underground.

Unaccompanied children between 5 and 10 must have a valid Oyster ID Card*.

- Children 11-15
Child Fares On London Public Transport

Children aged 11 to 15 years must get an 11-15 Oyster ID Card* to travel free on buses and trams and at child-rate on Tube, DLR and London Overground services. You do not need a ticket for free travel, just the ID Card.

You cannot get a standard child rate Oyster Card without an Oyster ID Card.


Young Visitor Discount (for visitors to London staying up to 2 weeks)

If you are a short term visitor to London you can get child fares on a special child Oyster Card that expires after 14 days. There are restrictions. You can only get these Oyster Cards at Underground station ticket offices in Zone 1 and Heathrow Terminals, Travel Information Centres and City Airport DLR Station for example. For full details of this scheme click through on the Child Fares banner to the right.


Alternatives To Oyster Cards For Children

You can get around the Oyster ID card requirement by purchasing a 1 day Travelcard for the child, (longer length Travelcards do require an Oyster ID Card) or paying the cash fare or purchasing your Child Travelcard on-line in advance from the TFL Visitor Shop.


You can buy 7 day child Travelcards at railway stations (not Underground or Overground) with a railway ticket office. The railways will issue a railways photocard free of charge if you bring along a passport size photo of your child. You can only use this for buying tickets from the railways which in practise for visitors means Travelcards.

Children 16-17

All 16 to 17-year-olds can travel at child-rate on bus, Tube, tram, DLR and London Overground services with a 16+ Oyster ID Card*.

However, you can only use this concession on Oyster cards and 7 Day Travelcards or longer, not 1 day Travelcards.

Students 18+

If you are 18 or over and enrolled with a participating education establishment registered on the TfL scheme and are resident in London whilst studying there is an Oyster ID card that gives a 34% discount on Oyster Pay As You Go.

*Oyster ID Cards

Visitors to London from overseas can order an Oyster Photocard in advance for their children and collect on arrival at a travel centre. (There is a Travel Centre at Heathrow Airport as well as in Central London). If you are resident in the UK but live outside London you can again order on-line but the Oyster ID Card is sent to your home address.

Note you need to apply (online) at least 4 weeks prior to arrival.

Note: There is a non-refundable £10 administration fee for each Oyster ID Card

Advance application for Child Oyster ID Card


London Oyster Card and Travelcards For Sale On-line
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