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London Olympics city break
Planning a trip to the English capital for the 2012 games? Discuss this article
London travel tips
• If you’ve got tickets to a Games event in London, you’ll also get a one-day Games Travelcard which will entitle you to travel anywhere in Zones 1-9 on public transport for free. Note that this doesn’t include the Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick Express trains, or any kind of taxis.
• The nearest stations to the Olympic Park are Stratford (on the Central Line for tube access, and on the Overground Line), Stratford International (from outside London) and West Ham (on the Hammersmith & City, District and Jubilee tube lines).
• An Oystercard is essential for traveling around on public transport. It’s a plastic smartcard that you buy once, and then can load with either pay-as-you-go fares or Travelcards. The Transport for London website (www.tfl.gov.uk) has fare details. Remember to touch your Oystercard on the circular yellow panels as you enter and exit stations.
• If you’re a confident cyclist, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme (better known as Boris Bikes, after Mayor Boris Johnson) allows you to pick up a bike at one of the blue parking points distributed throughout central London, and drop it off at another. You can pay with a credit card, or (if you’re planning to use them often) sign up for a membership key.
• On the tube, some basic points of etiquette can avoid unnecessary friction with the locals. Let passengers off the train first at stations (or they may well walk straight through you) and stand on the right-hand side of escalators (people walk on the left). Also note that drinking alcohol (and smoking) is illegal on the tube.
• Londoners are still worried that the Olympics will bring traffic to a standstill – and this could affect buses, as some of the special lanes that normally allow them to keep moving have been allocated to transport for Olympic competitors. There are coaches and park-and-ride routes to getting to the venues (see www.firstgroupgamestravel.com for details).
• If you’re traveling into central London, avoid the weekday rush hour if you can – as the millions of Londoners getting to and from work make the public transport system uncomfortably busy. The nastiest periods are around 7.30-9.30am and 5.30pm-6.30pm.
• Remember to check how far your journey is on foot before leaping on to public transport. The tube map bears little relation to real-life geography, and you may be much closer to your destination than you think (or, conversely, much further away).
More travel information can be found on the official website, www.london2012.com.By Alan Rutter
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