Seriously, is Bank/Monument really so bad?
February 8, 2009 10:09 AM   Subscribe

London Tube Geeks needed: A long time ago, we planned to take 30 kids and 10 adults on a trip from Victoria Station to Greenwich. The date we choose was the 14th February. This is now a week away, I've just checked TFL's web page and I have a feeling we're royally screwed.

So here goes:

- The Jubilee line is shut from Waterloo to Stanmore
- Tower Gateway station is shut until 'Spring'
- 'Due to ongoing escalator improvement works customers are advised to avoid changing at Bank and Monument stations'

Journey Planner wants us to take the train from Cannon Street to Greenwich, but I think we'll have to pay for the kids if we do this. Buses and Tubes are free to us, and this was supposed to be a bargainous day out, which is why we're not going on the river. Playing around with the Journey Planner options either makes it suggest taking buses all the way there or changing tube lines 5 times (did I mention the 30 kids?). I suspect because someone has drummed into it that changing at Bank/Monument is a bad thing and should be avoided at all cost.

The way I see it, using human eyes to look at an actual paper tube map, we have two options:

- Circle line to Monument (or maybe Cannon Street), walk to Bank, DLR to Greenwich

- Bus to Waterloo, Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, DLR to Greenwich.

Which one do you think will be easiest with 30 kids? Is there another way I'm missing? I'll happily take a longer route if the changes are easier.

Also, thanks TFL, don't you know it's Half Term?
posted by Helga-woo to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total)
Best answer: The first one. Bank/Monument isn't really all that bad; the interchange is at street level, but it's about two minutes to get from one to the other. As you have guessed, they have been seriously overstating the difficulty of changing at Bank/Monument to discourage people from doing so and overcrowding the escalators. That's it. Trying to transport 40 people by bus, on the other hand, would be an absolute nightmare.
posted by Acheman at 10:17 AM on February 8, 2009

Diamond Geezer on why the Bank/Monument advice is a lie. Still not sure about doing that with 30 kids though.
posted by randomination at 10:18 AM on February 8, 2009

Best answer: I would say your first option is the easiest with a bunch of kids. Cannon St or Monument to Bank isn't too far, it'll be very quiet in the City on a Saturday, so the walk shouldn't be unpleasant and the DLR is cool - little toytown trains with no drivers. The kids'll love it.

I would also add, seeing as you are a big party, that toilet options along the way will be limited. At Victoria they charge 30p per person to use the toilets, so take every opportunity to use free toilets wherever you can, if you can find them.
posted by essexjan at 10:21 AM on February 8, 2009

I mean, you could take the District out to Bow Road and switch to the DLR there (Bow Church - it's basically the same station) if you really want to avoid Bank/Monument. I'd probably do your Option 1 though.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:33 AM on February 8, 2009

TfL asks "larger groups" to contact their local station supervisor in advance. "They will be able to suggest the best route for your journey and will contact staff at interchange and destination stations to ensure your travel throughout the day is as trouble free as possible." I think a group of 40, including 30 children, is starting to get into the "larger group" territory and it might be worth it to take them up on this offer. LU wants this to go as smoothly as you do.

Beware: if you do this, the station supervisor might insist that you avoid a circuitous journey within Bank/Monument station, but that's probably a bad idea anyway.
posted by grouse at 10:44 AM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: I should point out these kids are native Londoner's, they live near Victoria, so tubes and buses do not faze them. I doubt many of them will have been on the DLR though, I am looking forward to the freak outs. Good point about actually asking TFL, we do this so often, I don't usually think about it.

My housemate also suggested changing at Bow as wild card option.

My main concern about Bank, having tried it today, is not so much the walk above ground, but getting down to the DLR platforms. I avoid Bank/Monument even when it's in full health as it confuses me immensely, I never get it right. Today I walked down stairs to the Northern Line Platform as the lifts were out of action, walked along the platform and then down an escalator to get to the DLR, on the return trip, there were 3 escalators to the surface.

Do any regular users know what is the best route to get from street level to the DLR and what about for the return journey? Which entrance should we aim for?
posted by Helga-woo at 10:52 AM on February 8, 2009

I will defer to more frequent visitors on the specific instructions, but you may find a map of the complex useful.
posted by grouse at 11:06 AM on February 8, 2009

If you get the DLR from Bow Church, you'll probably also have to change at Canary Wharf because on a weekend I believe the Stratford DLR (which is the Bow Church line) only runs to Canary Wharf and not through to Greenwich.
posted by essexjan at 11:07 AM on February 8, 2009

The DLR definitely runs directly from Bow Church on weekends, depending on which train you get on, but Bow Church is about 250m from Bow Road tube, and it's not a particularly pleasant walk. The above-ground walk at Bank might be longer but it's a lot less scummy.
posted by tapeguy at 11:54 AM on February 8, 2009

Re your second option: changing from the Jubilee Line to DLR at Canary Wharf will involve a moderately long walk; the DLR and Jubilee Line are not part of the same station.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:11 PM on February 8, 2009

Best answer: The creator of the map I linked above e-mailed me with this response to your question:
The only connection between Bank and Monument that's open is a single escalator that takes you from the Northern Line to Monument. The reverse journey is not possible.

Additionally, there's a one way system in place for accessing the DLR. The only way to get down to it is to use the interchange steps from the Northern Line platforms. The only way to get up out from the DLR is the escalators that go north.

Therefore, the key to getting to the DLR easily at Bank is to arrive on the Northern Line, which means taking the Victoria Line and changing at Euston.

You can save a bit of hassle at Euston by travelling towards the back of the train and using the "Emergency Stairs" exit rather than the escalators. This takes you to an ordinary cross passage, the opposite end of which is the southbound Northern Line towards Bank. Alternatively just take the escalators up and back down.

On the way back, take the escalators up from the DLR, and at the top, immediately do a u-turn and take the stairs down to the Northern Line, then go via Euston as before.
I asked if this was really easier than changing at the street, and received this response:
Yes. Getting from the street to the DLR at Bank is a nightmare.
posted by grouse at 1:12 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: You guys are great. Thank you so much Grouse for contacting that guy, one problem though - there's no Victoria line either.

I am going to talk to the people at the Station tomorrow.

TFL, I love you guys.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:22 PM on February 8, 2009

Write your mobile phone number on each kid's hand in marker first. I've found schools always teach children their home phone numbers. Like you're going to go home and wait for a call after you've lost one. Of course, assign each adult 3 kids at the beginning.
posted by artychoke at 8:25 PM on February 8, 2009

There are frequent overground trains to Greenwich. You can get to Greenwich in 12 mins from Cannon Street, 17 from Charing Cross, both of which are accessible on the circle line from Victoria. Look into the train times - this may work for you.
posted by iivix at 1:56 AM on February 9, 2009

I'd use Bank, frankly. Even if you have to go up top, it's a ghost town up there on Sundays.

However, since you've got a bunch of kids and it's right there next to you, how about getting off the DLR at Island Gardens instead and taking them through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel?
posted by genghis at 9:06 AM on February 9, 2009

Best answer: May I suggest an alternative? A fun alternative?

From Victoria, take the Circle line to Embankment. Get off. Go up the escalator. Exit on the river side. Cross the road. Walk down the ramp at Embankment Pier. Take the Thames Clipper every-twenty-minutes commuter fast boat, straight to Greenwich, right through the middle of London (goes past St Pauls, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and dozens of other landmarks).

A single will cost £5 for an adult, £2.50 for a child. Various discounts available. Check here for all the details.

Seriously, it could turn an hour-long trek through the London transport system into a half-hour of standing out on the back deck of a catamaran taking pictures of London. It's brilliant. It's a must-do for us any time we have visitors from out of town.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:26 PM on February 10, 2009

Response by poster: Ok, ok, ok, you win Happy Dave, I'll stop being a scrooge and take the kids on the boat ;) We are only charging them a nominal fee that was to cover the cost of the adults' travel and a souvenir for each of them. It wasn't enough for the boat, but we have found money from elsewhere to pay for it.

iivix, the train costs money. The same money as the boat as it happens. So it's a bit of a no brainer.

I have spoken to many people at TFL, and they all seem to agree that via Bank is the best of the worst options (and yes, they do know it's half term). But at least this way we only have to do it once.

They don't need to know about groups in advance, but they do like you to make yourself known at your starting station, and they will phone your intermediate stations to warn them of your arrival. If they have staff available, they will accompany you through the station and make sure you get on the train safely.

All the kids will have emergency contact numbers with them. They will be in groups of slightly more than 3 to an adult, as I like to have 1 or 2 floating adults to help with the herding and to concentrate on where we are going. On the Tube, up to 4 kids under 11 travel free with 1 adult, which is a lower ratio than many organisations recommend (depending on the age group). Some people get caught out by that. We also have very embarrassing hi-viz jackets for them all to wear.

Finally, if you are planning on walking through the Greenwich foot tunnel at the moment, walk it south-north, as the lift is broken at the Greenwich end.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:46 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hooray! You won't regret it, promise, it's an ace way to see London. Fingers crossed for nice weather, but it's got a huge enclosed seating area if the weather is horrid.

Oh, did I mention, there's also a bar on board with food, drinks and sweeties?

Have fun!
posted by Happy Dave at 4:17 AM on February 12, 2009

Response by poster: Well, it worked, boat there; DLR to Bank, Cannon Street to Victoria Line home. It was fiddly but manageable. Victoria station was a sea of confused people all looking for the Victoria Line, but we had enough adults and some very helpful Tude staff to elbow our way through. They were suitably freaked out by the DLR. The best bits were the 'speed boat', 'when I got to turn the ship's wheel' and, of course, the gift shop. Which just shows you can't win them all.

Our next trip is to Croydon in April. You have been warned.
posted by Helga-woo at 9:17 AM on February 15, 2009

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