London Underground - A
London Underground - A
The London Underground (also known simply as the Underground or by its nickname the Tube) is a rapid transit system serving Greater London and some parts of the adjacent home counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire in England.
The Underground has its origins in the Metropolitan Railway, opening on 10 January 1863 as the world's first underground passenger railway. It is now part of the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. The first line to operate underground electric traction trains, the City & South London Railway in 1890, is now part of the Northern line.
The network has expanded to 11 lines with 250 miles (400 km) of track. However, the Underground does not cover most southern parts of Greater London, there are only 33 Underground stations south of the River Thames. The system's 272 stations collectively accommodate up to 5 million passenger journeys a day. In 2020/21 it was used for 296 million passenger journeys, making it one of the world's busiest metro systems.
The system's first tunnels were built just below the ground, using the cut-and-cover method, later, smaller, roughly circular tunnels-which gave rise to its nickname, the Tube-were dug through at a deeper level. Despite its name, only 45% of the system is under the ground: much of the network in the outer environs of London is on the surface.
The early tube lines, originally owned by several private companies, were brought together under the Underground brand in the early 20th century, and eventually merged along with the sub-surface lines and bus services in 1933 to form London Transport under the control of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB). The current operator, London Underground Limited (LUL), is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), the statutory corporation responsible for the transport network in London.
As of 2015, 92% of operational expenditure is covered by passenger fares. The Travelcard ticket was introduced in 1983 and Oyster card, a contactless ticketing system, in 2003. Contactless bank card payments were introduced in 2014, the first such use on a public transport system.
The LPTB commissioned many new station buildings, posters and public artworks in a modernist style. The schematic Tube map, designed by Harry Beck in 1931, was voted a national design icon in 2006 and now includes other transport systems besides the Underground, such as the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, Thameslink, the Elizabeth line, and Tramlink. Other famous London Underground branding includes the roundel and the Johnston typeface, created by Edward Johnston in 1916.
London Underground History
London Underground Early Years
London Underground Sub-Surface Lines
The idea of an underground railway linking the City of London with the urban centre was proposed in the 1830s, and the Metropolitan Railway was granted permission to build such a line in 1854. To prepare construction, a short test tunnel was built in 1855 in Kibblesworth, a small town with geological properties similar to London. This test tunnel was used for two years in the development of the first underground train, and was later, in 1861, filled up. The world's first underground railway, it opened in January 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives.
It was hailed as a success, carrying 38,000 passengers on the opening day, and borrowing trains from other railways to supplement the service. The Metropolitan District Railway (commonly known as the District Railway) opened in December 1868 from South Kensington to Westminster as part of a plan for an underground "inner circle" connecting London's main-line stations. The Metropolitan and District railways completed the Circle line in 1884, built using the cut and cover method.
Both railways expanded, the District building five branches to the west reaching Ealing, Hounslow, Uxbridge, Richmond and Wimbledon and the Metropolitan eventually extended as far as Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 km) from Baker Street and the centre of London.
London Underground Deep-Level Lines
For the first deep-level tube line, the City and South London Railway, two 10 feet 2 inches (3.10 m) diameter circular tunnels were dug between King William Street (close to today's Monument station) and Stockwell, under the roads to avoid the need for agreement with owners of property on the surface. This opened in 1890 with electric locomotives that hauled carriages with small opaque windows, nicknamed padded cells.
The Waterloo and City Railway opened in 1898, followed by the Central London Railway in 1900, known as the "twopenny tube". These two ran electric trains in circular tunnels having diameters between 11 feet 8 inches (3.56 m) and 12 feet 2.5 inches (3.72 m), whereas the Great Northern and City Railway, which opened in 1904, was built to take main line trains from Finsbury Park to a Moorgate terminus in the City and had 16-foot (4.9 m) diameter tunnels.
While steam locomotives were in use on the Underground there were contrasting health reports. There were many instances of passengers collapsing whilst travelling, due to heat and pollution, leading for calls to clean the air through the installation of garden plants. The Metropolitan even encouraged beards for staff to act as an air filter. There were other reports claiming beneficial outcomes of using the Underground, including the designation of Great Portland Street as a "sanatorium for sufferers of asthma and bronchial complaints", tonsillitis could be cured with acid gas and the Twopenny Tube cured anorexia.
London Underground Overview
London Underground Locale: Greater London, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire
London Underground Transit Type: Rapid transit
London Underground Number of Lines: 11
London Underground Number of Stations: 272 served (262 owned)
London Underground Daily Ridership: 3.15 million (January 2023)
London Underground Annual Ridership: 1.026 billion (2022/2023)
London Underground Began Operation: 10 January 1863, 160 years ago
London Underground Operator(s): London Underground Limited
London Underground Reporting Marks: LT (National Rail)
London Underground System Length: 402 km (250 mi)
London Underground Track Gauge:
1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge (1863–pres.)
7 ft (2,134 mm) Brunel gauge (1863–1869)
London Underground Electrification: 630 V DC fourth rail
London Underground Average Speed: 33 km/h (21 mph)