London Travel Guide

Public Transport

Transport is one of the four main areas of policy administered by the Mayor of London, however the mayor's financial control does not extend to the longer distance rail network that enters London. In 2007 he assumed responsibility for some local lines, which now form the London Overground network, adding to the existing responsibility for the London Underground, trams and buses. The public transport network is administered by Transport for London (TfL) and is one of the most extensive in the world. Cycling is an increasingly popular way to get around London. The London Cycling Campaign lobbies for better provision.

The lines that formed the London Underground, as well as trams and buses, became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) or London Transport was created. Transport for London (TfL), is now the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, and is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.

Air

Similar traffic, with some cheap short-haul flights, is also handled at Gatwick Airport, south of London in West Sussex.

Stansted Airport, north east of London in Essex, is a local UK hub and Luton Airport to the north of London in Bedfordshire, caters mostly for cheap short-haul flights. London City Airport, the smallest and most central airport, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic.

London Southend Airport, east of London in Essex, is a smaller, regional airport that mainly caters for cheap short-haul flights. It recently went through a large redevelopment project including a brand new terminal, extended runway and a new railway station offering fast links into the capital.

Buses and trams

London's bus network is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day, with approximately 7,500 buses, more than 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. In 2003, the network had an estimated 1.5 billion commuter trips per annum, more than the Underground. Around £850 million is taken in revenue each year. London has the largest wheelchair accessible network in the world and, from the 3rd quarter of 2007, became more accessible to hearing and visually impaired passengers as audio-visual announcements were introduced. The distinctive red double-decker buses are an internationally recognised trademark of London transport along with black cabs and the Tube.

London has a modern tram network, known as Tramlink, based in Croydon in South London. The network has 39 stops and four routes, and carried 26.5 million people in 2008. Since June 2008 Transport for London has completely owned Tramlink, and it plans to spend £54m by 2015 on maintenance, renewals, upgrades and capacity enhancements. Since April 2009 all trams have been refurbished.

Cable car

London's first and only cable car, known as the Emirates Air Line opened in June 2012. Crossing the River Thames, linking Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks in the east of the city, the cable car is integrated with London's Oyster Card ticketing system.

Cycling

Cycling in London has enjoyed a renaissance since the turn of the Millennium. Cyclists enjoy a cheaper, and often quicker, way around town than those using public transport or cars, and the launch of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme in July 2010 has been successful and generally well received.

Port and river boats

From being the largest port in the world, the Port of London is now only the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year. Most of this actually passes through the Port of Tilbury, outside the boundary of Greater London.

London also has frequent river boat services on the Thames known as Thames Clippers. These run up to every 20 minutes between Embankment Pier and North Greenwich Pier. The Woolwich Ferry, with 2.5 million passengers every year, is a frequent service linking the North and South Circular Roads. Other operators also run both commuter and tourist boat services in London.

Rail

Underground and DLR

The London Underground — all of which is now commonly referred to as the Tube, though originally this designation referred only to the deep-level lines, as distinct from the sub-surface lines — is the oldest, and second longest metro system in the world, dating from 1863. The system serves 270 stations and was formed from several private companies, including the world's first underground electric line, the City and South London Railway.

Over three million journeys are made every day on the Underground network, over 1 billion each year. An investment programme is attempting to reduce congestion and improve reliability, including £6.5 billion (€7.7 billion) spent before the 2012 Summer Olympics. London has been commended as the city with the best public transport. The Docklands Light Railway, which opened in 1987, is a second, more local metro system using smaller and lighter tram-type vehicles which serve Docklands and Greenwich.

Suburban

There is an extensive above-ground suburban railway network (formerly British Rail), particularly in South London, which has fewer Underground lines. London houses Britain's busiest station – Waterloo, with over 184 million people using the interchange station complex (which includes Waterloo East station) each year. The stations have services to South East and South West London, and also parts of South East and South West England. Most rail lines terminate around the centre of London, running into eighteen terminal stations with the exception of the Thameslink trains connecting Bedford in the north and Brighton in the south via Luton and Gatwick airports.

HS1 and Eurostar

Since 2007 high-speed Eurostar trains link St. Pancras International with Lille, Paris, and Brussels. Journey times to Paris and Brussels of two-and-a-quarter hours and one hour 50 minutes respectively make London closer to continental Europe than the rest of Britain by virtue of the High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnel while the first high-speed domestic trains started in June 2009 linking Kent to London.

Crossrail

Crossrail, due to open in 2018, will be a new railway line running east to west through London and into the surrounding countryside with a branch to Heathrow Airport. It is Europe's biggest construction project, with a £15 billion projected cost.

Prospective new lines include High Speed 2 between London and the West Midlands and Crossrail 2.

Roads

Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, car travel is common in the suburbs. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the North and South Circular roads (in the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway (the M25, outside the built-up area) encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes—but very few motorways penetrate into inner London. The M25 is the longest ring-road motorway in the world at long. The A1 and M1 connect London to Leeds, and Newcastle and Edinburgh.

A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £10 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of central London. Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a greatly reduced season pass which is renewed monthly and is cheaper than a corresponding bus fare. London is notorious for its traffic congestion, with the M25 motorway the busiest stretch in the country. The average speed of a car in the rush hour is . London government initially expected the Congestion Charge Zone to increase daily peak period Underground and bus users by 20,000 people, reduce road traffic by 10 to 15 per cent, increase traffic speeds by 10 to 15 per cent, and reduce queues by 20 to 30 per cent. Over the course of several years, the average number of cars entering the centre of London on a weekday was reduced from 195,000 to 125,000 cars – a 35-per-cent reduction of vehicles driven per day.

source: Wikipedia

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