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I have a problem as to how I am going to get from Heathrow (T2) to Balham/Tooting Bec on a budget. (Sunday 10 am) My main problem is my luggage as I was once stuck with a huge suitcase and there was no lift access from the underground to the street - not fun and I would not like to relive this drama. On the day that I arrive (Sunday) I am not in any rush so time isn't a factor.

  1. Underground from Heathrow to Balham: I can take the tube to Greenpark then change to catch the one to Balham but my problem is once I've gotten to Balham there are no lifts or escalators (as far as I'm aware) that go up to the street and I will have a suitcase.

  2. Bus from Victoria station to Balham: (after catching National express bus to Victoria from Heathrow) This seems the best option in terms of my bag but obviously there are about 3 stops and as I understand it there are road works at Clapham so now this route will be diverted which I'm not sure where this will leave me.

Note: As far as my research tells me Victoria Tube station has no lifts or escalators so me taking a tube from here to Balham isn't really going to work, I think.

  1. Uber: I have the uber app on my phone and would definitely take Uber from Victoria bus station as it's a maximum of 12 pounds to Balham. So that's fine but I won't have roaming internet access and would need to find wifi somewhere in order to use this option.

If anyone has any other ideas for me to look into (or ways to improve the three I have thought of) that would be greatly appreciated!

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    Just a note that in London these days almost every pub offers free wifi. – Aleks G Nov 10 '14 at 8:54
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    What is your budget? National express to Victoria plus the Uber will add up to probably about £25-30. You may be able to find a minicab from Balham area that'll do airport pick up for under £40. – Aleks G Nov 10 '14 at 8:56
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    The TFL Step-Free Tube Map and Guide could be handy here, that'll let you easily see where you can change / leave with suitcases with no effort. Tube to Brixton then bus/uber/taxi looks a good option to me from that – Gagravarr Nov 10 '14 at 9:45
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    Victoria has wifi. thetflforum.co.uk/tfl/londonunderground/… – DumbCoder Nov 10 '14 at 11:45
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    I live in Balham. Train station has elevator. Tube station has not. There are like 40 steps from tube station to street level. If you use tube and the 40 steps are a big drama... go by tube to London Victoria and from there pick a train to Balham... – Oscar Foley Nov 10 '14 at 16:37
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Step-Free Access Research

Just for kicks I used tfl's journey planner, and selected the option "no stairs or escalators". I could not use your planned date (10th December 2014) because you can only plan ahead one month (so it'll have to wait for tomorrow. Here is the link to the suggested route. Below is a screenshot:

TFL Journey Planner

The "no stairs or escalators" is a fancy way for TFL to say "step-free access", i.e. with elevators from street to platform. It might be what you are looking for since you mention heavy luggage.

On a different note you could ask for help with your luggage to any of your fellow travellers. I bet you could easily find someone willing to do so. ;)

Tube It for £5.10

Then I went to the single fare finder page and searched for the cost from Heathrow T1-3 to Balham. Off-peak is £5.10. Does this fit your budget?

TFL Fare finder

Plan Ahead for Works

As a general rule of thumb I advise you to check TFL's planned works calendar page. If you are landing at Heathrow you might want to be informed as early as possible that the Piccadilly Line is closed/broken. And since most of the works take place on weekends, tourists tend to be the ones more affected by the disruptions.

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    Thanks so much, that was very helpful! I will look into all these options. Much appreciated :) – Claire Nov 10 '14 at 12:00
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Tube, every time. (see below)

Balham has escalators. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube/stop/940GZZLUBLM/balham-underground-station?lineId=northern

Victoria has escalators: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube/stop/940GZZLUVIC/victoria-underground-station/

All deep-level tube stations have lifts or escalators, except in cases of mechanical failure which are super-rare. Sometimes there are short staircases to get from platform to escalator (but not in the case of Balham IIRC).

'Step-free' access isn't really relevant to you, so long as you can carry the case up a short flight of stairs. 'Step-free' access is for people in wheelchairs for whom (particularly in the case of electric wheelchairs) even 1 step can be an insurmountable obstacle. It doesn't sound like you fall into that category.

If you absolutely can't carry the case at all then you're better off getting a taxi. Heathrow has dozens.


BUT - checking your route - to go by tube from heathrow to balham with heavy luggage, you don't want to be changing at Victoria (which would take you onto the 'big train' - no escalators at Balham, I think no lift either) or changing at Green Park (which would mean you'd have to change again at stockwell - I'm assuming that with heavy luggage you'd rather spend longer on the tube train but have fewer changes).

Tube map is here: https://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/standard-tube-map.pdf

What you want is Picadilly Line then Northern Line.

So change at Leicester Square if you can manage a few short flights of steps, Kings Cross St Pancras if you can't.


I've just checked and Balham does have lifts from the 'big train':

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/BAL/details.html

Step-free access to platforms 1 and 2 from street via lift.

so
- Heathrow -> tube to Victoria -> big train to Balham
is a realistic option, and might be the quickest way to do it, although the change at Victoria won't necessarily be entirely stairless.

This is probably your best option. Trains from Victoria to Balham look pretty frequent even on a Sunday afternoon.

  • Yes step-free is a useful indication for wheelchair users. However it also means that the station is equipped with elevators which are a more comfortable option when carrying heavy luggage. Hence I wouldn't say it is not relevant to the case at hand. – JoErNanO Nov 10 '14 at 13:14
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    @JoErNanO: the thing is, 'step-free' excludes escalators. Most tube stations have escalators - only some have lifts as well. If I understand the OP correctly, he can get his case onto an escalator. So if he only uses the 'step-free' stations then a lot of the stations he's thinking are useless to him are actually fine. – A E Nov 10 '14 at 13:16
  • "he or she", I meant. – A E Nov 10 '14 at 13:41

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