Sooner or later you’ll want to take your children to London to visit one or two of the many attractions. You’ll no doubt be used to getting yourself around the Tube and surviving the ordeal but what’s it like with a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old in tow? You’re probably wondering if they need a ticket and how they get through the barriers.
Do children travel for free on the London Underground?
How do you get children through the barriers on the Tube?
So if children under 11 can travel for free on the Tube how do you get them through the barrier? Most Tube Stations will either have a manned barrier at the side of the normal Tube barriers where one of the staff will let you walk through with your children. For unstaffed Tube stations or busy times lookout for the extra wide Tube barriers that people with luggage typically use. With these you can scan your card, the barrier will open and you’ll have time to push the children through safely.
General advice for travelling with young children on the Tube.
Don’t forget to scan out at the end of your trip on the Tube.
I know it can be difficult to travel with children, and they can distract you from even the most basic of tasks but try and make sure you always scan your Oyster or payment card as you leave the Tube. It’s too easy on occasion to get waved through. If you leave the Tube without scanning out you will get charged the maximum journey fare which really
Take a picture to record their first Tube journey.
Don’t forget to take a picture of your children sitting on the Tube for their first journey on the London underground.
Avoid rush hour.
If you are not used to the Tube or London then this may not be obvious but if you don’t need to then I strongly suggest you avoid travelling with young children during rush hour (07:30-09:30 and 16:30-18:30).
Consider buses and walking as an
alternative to the Tube.
Do consider busses and walking as good alternatives to the Tube. London is a remarkably small city and it’s often faster to walk between places than take the time to walk to a Tube station, then walk down to the right platform, then wait for the Tube and then exit at the other end. Some of the Tube stations and the connecting walkways are enormous and it can feel like you are walking for miles.
If you travel by tube another tip is to avoid some of the really busy stations. For example Covent Garden and Oxford Circus.
How about taking a pushchair or wheelchair on the London Tube?
If you are travelling with a wheelchair or pushchair it is best to plan your journey around tube stations that have lifts. Most tube stations only have escalators which will be difficult to navigate with children and a pushchair. The two newest tube lines, the Jubilee and the Elizabeth line have the best disability access.
Some children may find the Tube noisy and scarary at first.
Some tube lines are noisier than others, for example I think the Northern Line and Central Line are a lot noisier than the newer lines such as the Elizabeth Line and the Jubilee. If your child has sensitive hearing try and plan your journey around the newer lines. If you can’t avoid the noisy lines then get your children to use earplugs until they get used to the noise.
The newer tube lines also generally have more modern platforms where the line is behind sliding doors. The picture above shows a typical tube station on the older lines where the train and track are open to the platform. When traveling with younger children you might want to play a game to see if they can hear it coming down the tube.
While waiting on the platform everyone should stay behind the yellow line. I would recommend keeping children with you against the wall and only walk forward towards the train when it stops and the doors have opened.
Accessing the tube from mainline train stations
All the mainline railyway stations also have access to the tube. For example, shown below is the entrance to the London Bridge tube station which is next to the London Bridge railway station.
Before you travel, check which tube line you need to access to reach your final destination. Some stations, such as Waterloo have two entances to the Tube, at either end of the station which access different lines. Don’t just rush for the first “Underground” sign, check the signage.
Agree on what you’ll do if you’re unlucky and get
separated on the Tube.