Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right Nine sneaky tube shortcuts that only Londoners know
News / City Life

Nine sneaky tube shortcuts that only Londoners know

Nine sneaky tube shortcuts that only Londoners know

Sure, the tube is pretty well sign-posted, but you'll often see Londoners go against the arrows and forge their own path. Yes, they do know something you don't. Here are a few sneaky tube tips from the Time Out team. Just don't tell everyone, okay?

The swift switcheroo at Euston

If you want to get on the Victoria line from the Northern line (or vice versa) – get the Bank branch and change at Euston and you can just walk straight off the tube and through to the Vic line platform, unlike the Charing Cross branch, which involves going up and down hundreds of escalators to change lines at Euston. 

The old lift trick at Earls Court

If you’re ever taking the lift from the Piccadilly line at Earls Court station, immediately tuck yourself into the right or left corner closest to the first lift doors as you enter. People will look at you a little crazy as there's another set of doors on the other side that look like a more natural exit – but it's not. Do this and not only will you be the first person out, but the ticket barriers will be right in front of you. Win-win. Same goes for Tufnell Park station. 

The great door swindle

Look for where the paint is worn on the yellow lines on the platform – that's where the doors open. 

The naughty nip at Holborn

Forget queuing to go out the platform exit with everyone else, instead nip up the entrance passage instead. It will say no exit, but give it a try and see if it's clear. Most lead you to the same point, just be mindful that this isn't your right of way so watch out for incoming commuters. The same works for getting down to platforms. A good example is at Holborn – turn right instead of following directions left for Central line at the bottom of escalators. The no entry signs send you straight to the platform and can be quieter. NB. don't do this in rush hour or when it's busy, obvs.  

The shortcut at King's Cross

Go against all the signs to the Northern line when you're on the Piccadilly line at King's Cross – you can still get down to the Northern line the old way instead of trekking all the way down that new crazily long route – you just have go down the non-signposted stairs instead of the now-closed escalator. 

The climber at Green Park

When changing lines at Green Park, it's quicker to go up the escalator to the ticket hall and then back down the next escalator to your desired line instead of schlepping down the corridor. (There's no scientific evidence for this one, it just feels shorter.)

The Bank/Monument hack

When changing from DLR or the District line to the Central line, it's much quicker (even at rush hour) to follow signs to the Northern line platforms and walk along them, then head straight ahead along the curved tunnel and up the spiral stairs, rather than up and down all the escalators and steps that the signposts tell you. The most horrible tube station in London suddenly becomes very slightly less horrible.

The side tuck at Embankment

To get to the District line at Embankment, head off to the left or right as soon as you go through the barriers and go down the steps. You end up further down the platform without having to walk as far (or look at the poster of Miranda Hart that's been up since mid-2013).

The secret tunnel at Leicester Square

Go to the stairs right at the end of the platform to change lines instead of going up and over using the signposted exits at the middle. You'll go against the flow and save yourself about 300 metres rather than shuffling along the long tunnel route if you follow the signs.

Read next: 22 more timesaving tips for the Tube

We are well aware that this is very far off being a definitive list and would love to hear your tube travel hacks. Comment below and we'll try to compile the ULTIMATE tube hacking map!

Photo by © Doug on Flickr.





I agree with blue_m but that is also true of getting to St Pancras ( East Midlands Trains or Eurostar ) from King's Cross / St Pancras underground station. From the tube platforms head to the Euston Road exit, walk along Euston Rd and enter St Pancras by the front door. It saves a massive detour underground.

Suzanne H

Use apps like first off the tube to use the system as it is in the most efficient way. I shave minutes off my journeys this way, first out of an exit puts you ahead of the crowd and you can walk at a brisk pace at no risk.  As Holborn is my home station I despise the idiots walking the wrong way who are a hazard to us regular, fast walkers. Suggesting these dodges is irresponsible. Any regular user of a station will know why and when they can take a short cut and even then let's hope the laziness doesn't cost anyone.

Philip S

Thanks, Allan. Now installed. Will try it out next time I'm in town.

Allan H

Philip S, Tube Assistant is a good app for exits and transfers, that tells you which carriage to get on to be right near the exit. Doesn't include, these hacks, as such but still very useful.

Time Out, don't encourage people to stop immediately after entering lifts at stations! It's the most annoying thing and the lifts usually only hold 12-16 people so it's not going to hold you up much to move immediately to the end and allow the lift to fill quicker, especially when you end up on a lift where the door opens at the other end. And don't tell people to go the wrong way through an exit.

Philip S

The real benefit comes from knowing where to stand at the previous station so that when you alight from the carriage you are opposite the short cut. e.g. Baker Street to Victoria. Stand at one end of the platform at Baker Street and you will be opposite one of the the short-cuts at Oxford Circus.


Could do with an app to tell me where to stand and to quickly search through the comments made by the other contributors but agree that it needs to be managed safely.

Ryan D

A great shortcut at Kings Cross that not many people know about! You can get to anywhere you want faster!

Go to platform 9, about 3/4's of the way down towards platform 10 (a trolley is optional), and run very fast at the old brick column.

#mindblowing #shortcut #you'llhavemorethanonescarafteryoutrythis

blue m

Getting quickly from the Victoria Line platforms at King’s Cross up to the overground train station, ignore the long lengthy circuitous tunnel route that is signposted, just follow only the signs for "Way Out: Euston Road" to avoid the crush and save a good three minutes.

Changing from the Jubilee Line to Piccadilly line at Green Park, it is just so much quicker to go up the escalators to the ticket lobby, then back down, rather than following the long lengthy circuitous tunnel route that is signposted.

Never Ever Change at Waterloo . . . 

Never Ever Travel On-Peak, i.e. never travel between 0630 and 0930 . . .  

blue m

Only if enjoy experiencing the delights of chaos theory and being crushed by just too many people THEN change between underground trains at Waterloo, Paddington, Canary Wharf, Bank-Monument, and yes there will be similar crowding problems once the Elizabeth Line finally opens in early 2019 - - -  How To Beat The Lack Of Seats, just catch the tube in the opposite direction to your destination, for one or two stops and then get back on the tube in the correct direction to your destination - - -  How To Beat The Lack Of Seats, Piccadilly Line trains towards Heathrow Airport, and if you are not going to Heathrow Airport and you want a seat, then wait for the next Piccadilly Line train going to either Uxbridge or Rayners Lane in northwest London.  

Judith L

Me! Me! Me! Stuff the rest of you, I'm in a hurry and I don't care if I get in your way. Nasty philosophy to be selfish at other people's expense. Let's hope no one gets injured or killed by some of your irresponsible suggestions.

Adam M

If you're getting the central line from Liverpool Street eastbound past Stratford, don't. 

The national rail services go nearly as frequently, get to Stratford in half the time and are often less crowded. Also, you get a few more minutes of sunlight before getting to Stratford and walking the five paces across to the central line for your onward journey.
alan b

Coming over in late Oct will have to try some of these out! Thx

Maroussia R

At Waterloo, if you are arriving on the Northern Line, and want to go to the main concourse where the real trains are, you take the exit, marked EXIT and you will eventually arrive at a T junction.  Facing you is a sign telling you to turn left for the trains.  Turn right and much sooner than from the other direction, you will find an escalator to take you there.

Gabby E

At embankement district line to get to bakerloo or northern quicker go down the no entry in the middle cuts out a bit of walking

Stacy H

The lift at Belsize Park only opens on the opposite side at peak hours (usually 5:30-7). When you enter from the tube any other time, immediately turn around so you're facing the right way.

Also, the buttons to control the lifts at Belsize and Hampstead are only dummies sometimes. (Other times they actually work.) I'm still trying to figure out when.

Rob S

You wouldn't say to people "If you want to turn right at a roundabout its a lot quicker to go anti clockwise around the roundabout rather than drive all the way round" Same for the tube. You are in a crowded place underneath the ground. That's a potentially dangerous place so you should follow the approved routes which are worked out to keep the sation safe and efficient.

Laura L

@Rob S Considering we aren't travelling at 30 mph and made of metal I think we will be o.k.....

Mike P

@Laura L @Rob S Those "No Entry" routes are there for a very good reason. A large mass of people managed badly in the wrong circumstances can be absolutely lethal. An extreme case is Hillsborough - and underground it's potentially even worse. By all means take non-signposted routes, but please, not ones marked "No Entry".
20 years ago, maybe it was OK. But the Tube is incredibly crowded in some areas these days, and not just in the traditional "rush hours". Then there's those confounded wheely cases to contend with too, which weren't around back then either :-)

Jodie C

@Mike P @Laura L @Rob S I have to agree. I once got crushed against a brick wall walking up a path in westminster because of a hoard of travelling students coming the other way. Imagine if I was underground! *shudder*

James V

Favoured quick interchanges that generally just involve a saunter of a few steps are Oxford Circus (Bakerloo/Victoria), Mile End (District and Hammersmith & City/Central) and Finsbury Park (Victoria/Piccadilly)... and the other top tip if transferring from the District to the Piccadilly en route to Heathrow with a big suitcase is do it at Barons Court, Hammersmith or Acton Town - your arms will thank you as trying to change at Earls Court or South Kensington is pure MADNESS.

Jan S

While this article is a nice idea, it's not helping at all. The London Underground system is under heavy load already and the biggest issue when it comes to increasing the number of trains is getting people off the platforms. Going against the flow will disturb this system which clever people came up with and leads to overcrowding and closed stations at rush hour. For the sake of hundreds of thousands of Londoners using the tube: Move your fat arse and walk along the ways signposted.

A Ali H

Thanks for the tips. Ignore the grumpy sheep, some people will find the tips useful and hey, the less time stuck in a stuffy underground station the better! I personally take the shortcut from the Northern line platform to Picadilly line at King's Cross everyday which saves me a lot of time. Even at rush hour they's always a lot of space for people going the opposite way.

Russell S

If you're going the wrong way and you get smashed in the face by an elbow, don't complain because it'll be your fault

Janet A

I'm disabled so I can't climb stairs cos I get out of how can I get from Kingscross mainline to Liverpool St to get a mainline to wickford Essex without climbing stairs..and please give me right direction cos I really get breathless if I walk to far..

Rick S

I had to stop changing at Holborn altogether because of everyone exiting up the Central Line entrance stairs. I'm all for efficiency but somebody's going to get hurt.

Foysal M

I'm all for better people traffic distribution, but telling commuters to 'be a rebel' and go through the no exit areas is just stupid and rude. I have missed my train on occasion because of those #muppets (You know who you are and yes, I will push you out of the way) #Surbiton #London

Tom C

I don't think TFL are going to be terribly impressed with an article encouraging people to go against the flow in clearly marked one way systems, you can't stop people doing it but the fewer the better; otherwise you'll start slowing up a system we all want to run as efficiently as possible.

Hank W

For all stations:

Instead of queuing with everyone in London, getting slammed up against a door, or a backpack in your crotch; buy a bicycle and cycle around London. Your life will be ten times happier for it.

Rob T

@Harley F @Hank W If you valued your life, you'd hop on a bike - the healthiest mode of transport of all!

Harley F

Another one for Victoria.

If you want to avoid the crowds exiting the Victoria line during rush hour, take the escalators up to the Circle and District line platform instead, then the stairs up to the ticket hall, and continue as normal. Or for extra quietness, take the stairs out of the ticket hall to the bus terminal, and walk across to the station. If you time it well enough that you miss the trains on the C&D platforms, it's a lot more pleasant than fighting the crowds at the bottom of the Victoria Line escalators.

Also, another general rule.

Unlike many National Rail services, most tube trains are the same length and composition. This means that if you want to be able to leave the platform quickly at the other end of your journey, it's worth figuring out which doors open in front of the exit. This doesn't work so well for shared lines, like C&D or Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith Lines.

And finally...

If you want to get to Victoria from Oxford Circus at rush hour, it may be easier to walk to Bond Street, take the Jubilee to Westminster, then change to the Circle or District line, which are less busy. This is especially true if the gates get closed.

Stacy H

@Harley F There's a pay app called Station Master that tells you where to stand for quick exits and also has history notes for each station.

Dami A

Theres a few tricks that i use sometimes. Heres my 10 tricks 

1 At Hammersmith, when getting the Circle or Hammersmith and City Lines from platform 2/3 to platform 1, use the footbridge at the East end of the platform, its alot easier and quieter to do it and  you avoid having to use the busier exits at the Western end of the platform. 

2. This one should be obvious but not always to most. If your on a Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf and the train terminates at North Greenwich and you need stations between Canning Town and Stratford then use the Canary Wharf platforms to wait as this will save you having to use the exits and concourse to transfer to the Eastbound platforms. 

3.. If travelling to Baker St, Finchley Rd or Wembley Park then use the Metropolitan Line as this bypasses the stations on the Jubilee Line and its faster and usually has more seats. And also some trains Metropolitan Line have started their journey at Baker Street so will be much quieter and have more seats too. 

4. If your on the DLR to Stratford on the Stratford International branch then don't change at West Ham as what you notice is that the DLR Stratford International platforms are nearer to the Stratford station main entrance than Jubilee Line platforms and you avoid the stairs and lifts to navigate the station. 

5. Outside rush hour changing between Central Line and TFL Rail at Stratford is better as there is cross platform connection between the 2 services, However at rush hour use Liverpool Street as you get a better chance of a seat and also you can ensure your on the right trains as some services alternate between Gidea Park and Shenfield and between Maryland and Goodmayes. 

6. If you want the Victoria Line at Victoria. Then go through the WESTBOUND Circle and District Line platforms and follow the signs to the Victoria Line. because 1 its quicker and you end up in the middle of the Victoria Line platforms where it s quieter. and 2 the Eastbound tunnel to the Victoria Line is closed due to station and lift installation works. 

7. If your going between Leicester Square and Covent Garden then walk. Usually its 30 seconds and faster than if you use the Piccadilly Line  

8. If your on the Northern Line between Euston and Camden Town, try and be on the Bank Branch trains as these trains don't stop at Mornington Crescent meaning that you save yourself a few extra minutes which could help especially if a train has departed thee platform your train has arrived at. 

9. When at Elephant and Castle station use the London Road entrance for the Bakerloo Line and the National Rail entrance for the Northern Line. It might not be the best route but it does save you time on the platform and means you don't miss out on trains. Also the Northern Line ticket hall has just one lift so by using the London Road exit for the Bakerloo Line you save yourself time from having to walk through platforms.. 

Last but not least 10. If your at Waterloo East and need the Jubilee Line, Don't use Waterloo as many do. But go towards the southern end of the platforms and there is a secret entrance to Southwark station which is a lot quieter and more convenient and its a better place to board then that Waterloo station you have to go through loads of stairs and escalators  to get to. 


Dear people who take "the naughty nip at Holborn". There's a reason it says NO ENTRY. You're idiots, you get in the way & make people miss trains & you're going to get knocked for six if you head against the one way system when there's a full train load of people changing from the Picadilly.
I've seen people try it at the wrong moment & get slammed into the wall & knocked clear down the stairs.

Tube T

Well done on publishing this, very smart of you. Now you'll get people trying to go against the flow on a very busy system, getting lost and obstructing hundreds of other passengers who are going down the right way of what's meant to be a one-way system. There is a reason some routes are longer than others (it's called 'elf and safety' and it's really important when you're in a closed, crowded, underground place) and that reason is to keep people moving and not stuck in an amorphous mass down a single corridor. You are not helping, sweetie pie.

Jez B

I'm all about Elf And Safety, sweetie pie.