The London Underground was the first underground railway system in the world and the first to company to operate electric trains. London Underground in the United Kingdom is a train travelling system that runs around most of London, as well as other near areas such as Hertfordshire, Essex and Buckinghamshire. As the first ever created, you can be sure that this railway system has the most advanced and logical service available whether you wish to travel the world, or make a short trip, you will be very satisfied with London Underground.
History of London Underground
Despite the name of London Underground—which is commonly referred to as the Tube—and contrary to what most people believe, more than fifty-five percent of the train network is actually above ground! The first section of the London Undergroun, the very first train travelling system in the world, opened in 1863.
Other early lines of the London Underground where built by many private companies and later in the early part of 1933, these lines became part of an integrated transport system when the London Passenger Transport Board, also known as LPTB or London Transport was created. Made up of two hundred and seventy plus stations and around four hundred kilometers (two hundred and fifty miles) of train track, the London Underground is the second longest train travelling system in the entire world as well as the most boarding and depot stations in the world. The London Underground is the third busiest metro train system in all of Europe, totaling more than one billion recorded passengers in 2007.
Features of London Underground
Stations and Lines
There are two different London Underground lines, which are classified as the deep-tube routes and the subsurface routes. The subsurface routes—which are mostly above ground—are the Circle, District, Hammersmith, and the Metropolitan lines. The deep-tube routes—which are mostly, if not all, underground or in ‘tunnels’—consist of the Central, Bakerloo, Jubilee, Piccadilly, Northern, Victoria and Waterloo and City lines. There eleven total train lines, but up until 2007, there was also a twelfth line—subsurface—called the East London line, but it closed for rebuilding work and then later reopened in May 2010 to be part of a different train network.
By viewing a Tube Map, you can see which train line goes where. The map is considered a classic design with colour-coded directional lines to represent the tracks. Many other transport maps have used this design as an influence. Below, you can see which transport lines are represented by which colors, when the line was created, the type, and the length of the track.
Map section Length
Name colour opened Type (KM) (Miles)
Bakerloo Brown 1906 Deep level 23.2 14.5
Central Red 1856 Deep level 74 46
Circle Yellow 1863 Subsurface 27 17
District Green 1868 Subsurface 64 40
Hammer- Pink 1858 Subsurface 26.5 16.5
Jubilee Silver 1879 Deep level 36.2 22.5
Metropo- Magenta 1863 Subsurface 66.7 41.5
Northern Black 1867 Deep level 58 36
Piccadilly Dark Blue 1869 Deep level 71 44.3
Victoria Light Blue 1968 Deep Level 21 13.25
Waterloo & Turquoise 1898 Deep level 2.5 1.5
Hours of Operation
The London Underground train lines have two tracks for each line (One that goes in each direction) So the lines do not run 24 hours a day except for New Years and major public events (such as boxing day) because some of the trains need to close at night to have some down time for cleaning and regular maintenance. However, this shouldn’t stop you from using the London Underground services. Because of this very short down time, you can rest assured that you wont be sitting in a smelly or dirty train.
The trains have very early and late operating hours, leaving only a few hours for this down time. The first morning trains start operating as early as 4:45 AM and run until at least 1:00 AM. As you can understand, these down time hours are much needed, but they won’t take away from your traveling experience. Some segments of the lines even have a third or even a fourth line to allow trains to be routed around maintenance sites if needed.
The London Underground train maps show what trains are available for people with disabilities or that need assistance with a wheelchair sign on the station sites. These stations provide step-free access from street level and have everything needed to help people with special needs. With these signs, you can be sure to find a train that will allow you access. There are also lifts available. By 2020, London Underground plans to have a network of over one hundred fully accessible stations and trains.
London Underground train stations include some of the longest escalators in Europe and each and every one is custom built. The longest escalator is at Angel Station. The lift is 60 m (197 feet) with a vertical rise of 27.5 m (90 feet). The escalators run twenty hours a day with four hours of down time for cleaning and maintenance and can handle over 13,000 passengers every hour.
Overcrowding is always a concern for people when traveling especially in the mornings and evenings (The busiest times of the day). But London Underground has rebuilt several stations over the years to deal with some overcrowding issues such as widening the platforms and building more ticket stations. Especially during busy times, such as around holidays, these wider platforms are much easier to navigate—and safer too! Sometimes if necessary, the British Transport Police will come to a busy station to help with overcrowding issues.
Accidents on the London Underground network, which carry over a billion passengers every year, are very, very rare. According to some recent numbers, there is only one terminal misfortune for every three hundred million passengers. There are many, many safety regulations and warnings all over the London Underground stations such as ‘mind the gap’ warnings and the consistent ‘stay behind the yellow line’ announcements. London Underground staff always monitors the platforms and passageways, especially during busy hours to direct people and even keep them from entering the platforms if they happen to get too crowded. The train platforms at LU have pits beneath the tracks to aid in water drainage, but if a passenger jumps or falls in front of a train, they also help to prevent serious injury and death.
Types of Trains
There are currently two types of trains that London Underground owns and operates: Tube (also known as underground) and Subsurface.
Tube trains or stock, which are trains that run in the tunnels below ground, are designed to run in the restricted space and have circular ceilings and limited space. London Underground tube stock runs through the Bakerloo, Central, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee train lines. The dimensions vary between each individual design, but the common feature of this type of stock is the ability to run through a circular tunnel of approximately 13-foot (4.0 m) diameter.
Subsurface or “Surface Stock”, are the train that run mostly above ground, and these trains neither have to abide by any space or size specifications of Tube Stock or “Underground” trains. Subsurface Stock is used above ground and also in the shallower underground tunnels that are built with more generous clearances than Tube tunnels.
Ticketing, Passes, Fares, and Prices
The London Underground network uses the Travelcard zones to determine the price of train tickets. London is divided into six zones—zone one leads just beyond the Circle line, and zone six includes Heathrow Airport. Train stations outside Greater London are in zones seven through nine. There are ticket offices with staff, to acquire these train tickets, some of which are open for limited periods only, and ticket machines that can be used at any time of the day.
In 2003 TfL introduced the Oyster card, which is a smartcard—kind of like the travel card—with an embedded chip that travelers can get free of charge, charge it with credit (The travellers choice amount), and use it to pay for train travel with the London Underground and many other train systems. Oyster Cards can also be loaded with the benefits of travelcards. To get an Oyster card is much cheaper and much easier to use than any other form of ticketing such as buying tickets with cash or even the older type of travelcards, the ones with magnetic-strip on them. London Underground is currently trying to encourage passengers to use Oyster Cards instead of travelcards and cash by offering huge discounts and savings.
There is also a fare plan for disabled people wjho may need train travelling assistance and elderly London people. The plan is called the "Freedom Pass" and allows the cardholders free train travel on London Underground routes at all times. The pass itself is by all means the same thing as an Oyster Card, though it does not bear the same name. The Freedom Pass includes a photograph of the passenger and the card must be renewed every five years.
Uniformed and undercover ticket inspectors patrol the London Underground with special advanced hand-held ticket readers. Passengers who travel without having purchased a valid ticket for their trip are required to pay a penalty fare of £50 and can be prosecuted for fare evasion under the Regulation of Railways Act of 1889, under which the people will have a fine up to £1,000, or can serve three months in prison.
Planned improvements and expansions
There are many plans to improve and expand the London Underground Company in the next few years. Each train line will be improved to hold larger amounts of passengers, be more reliable, contain new computerised signalling, track renewal and station refurbishing, and even new tube and subsurface stock trains.
-London Underground ran a trial programme for a cooling system in Victoria Station between 2006 and 2007. This trial was used to determine whether this idea could be possible and useful if in widespread use throughout the company.
- A trial of mobile phone coverage on the Waterloo & City train line will take place and aims to conclude whether phone coverage can be extended across the entire London Underground rail network.
-London Underground had planned to create a new train line by 2017 that will run across central London called Crossrail.
-Another planned line, the Chelsea-Hackney line, which won't be built until after the Crossrail line is finished, will also become a part of the London Underground in the future. This line would give the network a new Northeast to South line. However, this line is still being decided on.
-There are also rumors of proposals to reorganise the sub-surface lines and split the Northern line as well as extending Charing Cross to further down to Battersea. These would both be completed after the Crossrail and Chelsea-Hackney lines are complete.
Why Choose London Underground?
Like many people, you may be tired of airport stress, the long lines, and even the strict baggage restrictions. With the London Underground train travelling company you can relax while on your trip and enjoy the scenery while travelling all over London without the stress of other places like airports.
Some London Underground Facts
▪ The longest journey without changing trains extended over 34.1 miles (54.9 km), from West Ruislip to Epping on the Central Line. The trip took 1 hour and 28 minutes.
▪ The greatest distance between stations is 3.89 miles (6.26 km), between Chalfont & Latimer and Chesham on the Metropolitan Line.
▪ The shortest distance between stations is 0.16 miles (0.26 km), between Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Picadilly Line.
▪ The shortest escalator is only 13 feet (4.0 m), at Stratford station.
▪ The longest escalator spans 197 feet (60 m), at Angel station.
▪ The deepest lift shaft is 181 feet (55 m), at Hampstead station.
▪ The deepest station is 192 feet (59 m) below street level, at Hampstead station.
▪ The shallowest deep-level station is only 26 feet (7.9 m) deep at Redbridge station.
▪ The busiest station is Victoria station with 78 million customers each year.