We’ve often heard the Victoria Line dubbed as ‘the fastest way to cross’ London – at least in a north/south direction. On doing such a journey recently, we discovered that, if you're super-anal about being a minute faster, then the Victoria Line really is your friend.
When it has a good service, trains are fast and can often be just seconds apart. We once exited a train at the 'wrong' end, and by the time we’d walked to the other end of the platform the train behind us had pulled in. The people on that train exited ahead of us.
So, coupled with TfL’s kindness in now releasing its Working Timetables online, and a smartphone App to tell you the ‘correct exit’ carriage to be in, we've found five trips using the Victoria that will save you minutes...
1. The easy ‘starter’ is anywhere the Victoria runs alongside the Piccadilly. If your journey starts at any Piccadilly station north of Finsbury Park and you’re heading into central London, change at Finsbury Park for a cross-platform interchange to the Victoria Line. If your destination is somewhere beyond Green Park on the Piccadilly Line, then you can get one train up (3 minutes) ahead of the Piccadilly train you were on by changing back at Green Park.
2. Use the Victoria Line instead of the Overground. Instead of taking an Overground train from Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington, it’s five to ten minutes quicker to take a National Rail train from Clapham to Vauxhall, and then changing and speeding up the Victoria Line from there.
3. The same trick can be used (it’s just less obvious) with the Northern Line. Let’s say you’re going from Balham to Finchley Central and you get on the Northern Line. Don’t stay on the train all the way – no! Change at Stockwell (cross platform interchange) and whizz up the Victoria which is faster, change at Euston again (another cross platform interchange), and pick up the Northern again there. You should be two trains – 8 minutes faster – than if you’d stayed on the Northern Line. This tip can be used for any journey on the Northern Line for places south of Stockwell, and places north of Euston.
4. Here's another case of when getting multiple trains is faster than staying on one train. Someone coming into Paddington from the west and heading for Victoria might look at the tube map and think “One train will do it, get the Circle Line”. If you’ve just missed one, however, Circle Line trains are every ten minutes, and it’s a slow anti-clockwise chug around the system. Quicker is to jump on Bakerloo line, head south and change at Oxford Circus to the Victoria Line and you’ll get there quicker.
5. And now for our most extreme example which you’ll think is strange – but try it, it works! You’re entering the tube at South Kensington and you want to go to King’s Cross. The most obvious and direct route is to take the Piccadilly – but it’s not the fastest way! Oh no, by the time you’ve fought through the crows of tourists down to the Piccadilly Line platforms, you can already be on a Circle or District Line train chugging east. Make sure you’re in the second carriage from the front, change at Victoria, 30 seconds down the escalators to the Victoria Line and speed up London’s fastest tube line to King’s Cross. You’ll get there on average two minutes faster than if you’d taken the Piccadilly – which, incidentally, is deeper at King’s Cross than the Victoria, meaning it’ll take you longer to get out of the station anyway.
Got any similar tips for beating the slow trains? Let us know below.
For apps that show you the best carriages to board for any interchange, try the author's own Station Master, or Tube Exits, Tube Changer or First Off The Tube for Apple; or London Tube Assistant on Android.