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London Banner Tower Bridge, London

For some, London, England is the greatest city in the world. In  fact Samuel Johnson, the 18th.C writer once said “When you are tired of London, you are tired of life”. Although the actual original City of London is very small, Greater London’s population of 8 million are spread out over 10,600 square miles. In the last census it identified over 300 languages being spoken in London, with  50 non-indigenous communities of more than 10,000 persons.

 

There are more than 3,500 Pubs and 6,000 restaurants of which 31 are Michelin-Starred, more than any other city in the world outside Paris.

 

Like most large cities throughout the industrialized world, traffic congestion is an increasing problem. Therefore in February 2003 London introduced a “congestion charge” (around 8 GBP ( US$ 12) a day), to not only try to ease the traffic situation on a day-to-day basis,  but also to raise important investment funds for London’s aging transportation system.

 

The London Underground (or as it is known by locals as the “Tube”) first started operating in 1863 with steam trains (38,000 people rode them the first day) and therefore became the first underground railway in the world. In 1890 it became the first system to start using electric trains, and despite its name about 55% of the network is above ground.

 

London Transport was formed in 1933 (buy now known as Transport for London) and operationally encompassed not only the Tube, but also busses, coaches, and originally trams (street-cars). Today, there are 11 major lines, 380 stations spread out over 293 miles (470 km) of tracks. London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) are not included in these figures at this time. In 2009 the system carried an estimated One Billion & Sixty-Five Thousand passengers over the year.

 

The Tube does not run 24 hours a day (except on New Year’s Eve and major public events like the upcoming London Olympics in 2012). First trains start operating around 5:30 am and run throughout each day to around 1 am. Times of the first and last trains vary depending on the point along the line you are departing from.

 

There are useful Underground Travel Information Centres at the following stations: Liverpool Street, Piccadilly Circus, Euston, Victoria, Heathrow Terminal 1,2,3, King’s Cross & Hammersmith.

 

The Underground system uses 6 Travelcard Zones to calculate Fares. There are many staffed station ticket offices, however some are only open for limited periods, but all stations are equipped with ticket machines, usable at any time. These machines usually accept a combination of coins, notes and credit cards.

 

In 2003, the “Oyster Card” a smartcard was introduced. This card can be loaded with cash or by the use of a credit card. Using the “Oyster Card” means significant price savings, i.e. A Cash Fare of 4.00 GBP (US$ 6.25) is reduced to 1.80 GBP (US$ 2.80), and these cards can be obtained ahead of your travel plans by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk

 

In 2009/10 single Cash Fares start at 4.00 GBP (US$ 6.25) per trip. Unlimited Anytime Travelcards range from 7.20 GBP (US$ 11.25) to 16.20 GBP (US$ 25.25) per Day; Unlimited Off-Peak (after 9:30am) Travelcards range from 5.60 GBP (US$ 8.75) to 9.00 GBP (US$ 14.00) per Day; 7-Day Unlimited Travelcards range from 25.80 GBP (US$ 40.00) to 67.70 GBP (US$ 105.00). Note: All Travelcard Rates are dependent on which Zones you what to travel within or to. Travelcards can be used on the Tube as well as above ground buses and the London Overground system. Keep hold of your ticket/TravelCard until you have completed your journey, as you may be asked to show it if tickets are being inspected. If you cannot produce proof of payment for the ticket inspector, you may risk paying a fine.

 

For more up-todate general & fare and multilingual information visit www.tfl.gov.uk or contact the 24 hour phone line at: (44) 207.222.1234.

 

The International telephone Country Code for London and the United Kingdom is 44, followed in the main by the Area Code(s) for Greater London of 207 or 208.

Photo credits: NYC - Wikipedia User @Avala | Paris - Flickr @Henry_Marion | Bangkok - Flickr @brongaeh | Berlin - Wikipedia User @Dkmedia | -- London - Wikipedia User @Diliff