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The London Underground, the Overground, and the track on no map

By Wednesday, August 21, 2013 , , ,

In order to save some money we flew in and out of the smaller airports around London. Although all are connected to the city by buses and trains, Luton wasn't nearly as busy as Heathrow or Gatwick would have been, and as we got closer to the train station, only a few people stayed with us. We found the platform for the only train going into the city, so it seemed simple enough.

When we arrives at St Pancras we found we'd take the wrong train. We'd been pretty surprised at how short the journey had been from the train station to London, and I think we took an express train that despite our tickets saying "Route: ANY PERMITTED" on them, we weren't allowed to take. 

Fortunately, there was someone to let us through the gate even though we had the wrong ticket, but things didn't get much easier after that. We got on another train that took us to Thameslink, the original destination on our ticket, but since that was our final stop on that ticket but not our final destination, we had to leave the station and re-enter on our Oyster cards.

We had to ask for directions quite a few times, and found out that you can take a train from London Bridge station to the one we were staying near, Brockley. Where things get interesting is that we could not find this line on any map.

Mysterious, invisible line connecting London Bridge Station with Brockley.

Someone told us that we couldn't see it because we were looking at a map of the underground, and since the line we wanted was a part of the overground, it wasn't shown. Except the orange double line in the image above is the overground. 

Fortunately, once we figured out that there was a secret route between our stop and London bridge station things got easier. I was surprised at just how big some of the stations were, specifically the ones that just connect a few lines. It seemed like we walking through a labyrinth of tiled and unfinished tunnels just to reach our connection.

Catching the bus to Stansted airport was a little tricky as it left from neither Victoria train station nor Victoria coach station, rather somewhere in between, and there was no where to get a refund on our oyster cards. Oh well, looks like we'll have to go back to get that taken care of!

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  1. The London Underground will get you pretty much anywhere...but navigating it is a different headache!

  2. I found the London Underground to be very easy. I lived near Brockley while I was there. And that orange line does indeed suggest it is an Overground train and not an Underground. The similar blue line means it's the DLR. Underground lines are typically solid. Enjoy my fave city.

  3. Yeah, after a day or two we started to get the hang of it and remember which lines we were taking frequently. The other thing that surprised me was how orderly and polite everyone was compared to the train system in Germany. I was absolutely amazed that people actually stood to one side of the escalators so others could pass!