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The London Underground (also known simply as the Underground, or by its nickname the Tube) is a public rapid transit system serving Greater London and some adjacent parts of the counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

The world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway, which opened in 1863, is now part of the Circle, 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.Template:Sfnp The network has expanded to 11 lines, and in 2015–16 carried 1.34 billion passengers,[1] making it the world's 11th busiest metro system.

The system's first tunnels were built just below the surface, 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.Template:Sfnp The system has 270 stations and Template:Convert of track.[2] Despite its name, only 45% of the system is actually underground in tunnels, with much of the network in the outer environs of London being on the surface.[2] In addition, the Underground does not cover most southern parts of Greater London, with less than 10% of the stations located south of the River Thames.[2]

The early tube lines, originally owned by several private companies, were brought together under the "Template:Smallcaps" 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 Greater London.Template:Sfnp Template:As of, 92% of operational expenditure is covered by passenger fares.[3] The Travelcard ticket was introduced in 1983 and Oyster, a contactless ticketing system, in 2003. Contactless card payments were introduced in 2014.[4]

The LPTB was a prominent patron of art and design, commissioning 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 TfL transport systems such as the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and TfL Rail. Other famous London Underground branding includes the roundel and Johnston typeface, created by Edward Johnston in 1916.

Certain lines are in the true distance - these include Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, East London, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City lines.

Unserved Districts[]

The Underground serves 270 stations.[5][6] Fourteen Underground stations are outside Greater London, of which five (Amersham, Chalfont & Latimer, Chesham, and Chorleywood on the Metropolitan line, and Epping on the Central line), are beyond the M25 London Orbital motorway. Of the 32 London boroughs, six (Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, Lewisham and Sutton) are not served by the Underground network, while Hackney has Old Street and Manor House only just inside its boundaries. Lewisham used to be served by the East London Line (stations at New Cross and New Cross Gate). The line and the stations were transferred to the London Overground network in 2010.[7]


The Metropolitan Railway was a passenger and goods railway that was set up in 1863. Today's Metropolitan Railway, was usually replaced by the histories of Hammersmith & City and Circle lines. The Metropolitan Line was later carved on its own in 1868. Most of it were under Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle, District and East London lines, together with the absorption into Jubilee and Piccadilly lines, and Chiltern Railways.

In the first half of the 19th century the population and physical extent of London grew greatly. The increasing resident population and the development of a commuting population arriving by train each day led to a high level of traffic congestion with huge numbers of carts, cabs, and omnibuses filling the roads and up to 200,000 people entering the City of London, the commercial heart, each day on foot. By 1850 there were seven railway termini around the urban centre of London: London Bridge and Waterloo to the south, Shoreditch and Fenchurch Street to the east, Euston and King's Cross to the north, and Paddington to the west. Only Fenchurch Street station was within the City.

The congested streets and the distance to the City from the stations to the north and west prompted many attempts to get parliamentary approval to build new railway lines into the City. None were successful, and the 1846 Royal Commission investigation into Metropolitan Railway Termini banned construction of new lines or stations in the built-up central area. The scheme was rejected by the 1846 commission, but Pearson returned to the idea in 1852 when he helped set up the City Terminus Company to build a railway from Farringdon to King's Cross. Although the plan was supported by the City, the railway companies were not interested and the company struggled to proceed.

The Bayswater, Paddington, and Holborn Bridge Railway Company was established to connect the Great Western Railway's (GWR's) Paddington station to Pearson's route at King's Cross. The route was to run from the south end of Westbourne Terrace, under Grand Junction Road (now Sussex Gardens), Southampton Road (now Old Marylebone Road) and New Road (now Marylebone Road and Euston Road). A branch was planned to connect to the GWR terminus. A bill was published in November 1852 and in January 1853 the directors held their first meeting and appointed John Fowler as its engineer. After successful lobbying, the company secured parliamentary approval under the name of the "North Metropolitan Railway" in the summer of 1853. The bill submitted by the City Terminus Company was rejected by Parliament, which meant that the North Metropolitan Railway would not be able to reach the City: to overcome this obstacle, the company took over the City Terminus Company and submitted a new bill in November 1853. This dropped the City terminus and extended the route south from Farringdon to the General Post Office in St. Martin's Le Grand. The route at the western end was also altered so that it connected more directly to the GWR station. Permission was also sought to connect to the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) at Euston and to the Great Northern Railway (GNR) at King's Cross, the latter by hoists and lifts. The company's name was also to be changed again, to Metropolitan Railway. Royal assent was granted to the North Metropolitan Railway Act on 7 August 1854.

Construction of the railway was estimated to cost £1 million. Initially, with the Crimean War under way, the Met found it hard to raise the capital. While it attempted to raise the funds it presented new bills to Parliament seeking an extension of time to carry out the works. In July 1855, an Act to make a direct connection to the GNR at King's Cross received royal assent. The plan was modified in 1856 by the Metropolitan (Great Northern Branch and Amendment) Act and in 1860 by the Great Northern & Metropolitan Junction Railway Act.

Although the GWR agreed to contribute £175,000 and a similar sum was promised by the GNR, sufficient funds to make a start on construction had not been raised by the end of 1857. Costs were reduced by cutting back part of the route at the western end so that it did not connect directly to the GWR station, and by dropping the line south of Farringdon. Instead of connecting to the GWR's terminus, the Met built its own station at Bishop's Road parallel to Paddington station and to the north. The Met connected to the GWR's tracks beyond Bishop's Road station. In 1858, Pearson arranged a deal between the Met and the City of London Corporation whereby the Met bought land it needed around the new Farringdon Road from the City for £179,000 and the City purchased £200,000 worth of shares. The shares were later sold by the corporation for a profit. The route changes were approved by Parliament in August 1859, meaning that the Met finally had the funding to match its obligations and construction could begin.

Despite concerns about undermining and vibrations causing the subsiding the nearby buildings, and compensating the thousands of people whose homes were destroyed during the digging of the tunnels, construction began in March 1860. The line was using the cut and cover method in King's Cross, east of there continued in a 728-yard tunnel under Mount Pleasant, Clerkenwell then followed the culverted River Fleet beside Farringdon Road in an open cutting to near the new meat market at Smithfield.

Within the tunnel, two lines were laid with a 6-foot (1.8m gap in between). To accommodate both the standard gauge trains of the GNR and the broad gauge trains of the GWR, the track was three-rail mixed gauge, the rail nearest the platforms being shared by both gauges. Signalling was on the absolute block method, using electric Spagnoletti block instruments and fixed signals

Construction was not without incident. In May 1860, the a GNR train overshot the platform at King's Cross and fell into the workings. Later in 1860, a boiler explosion on an engine pulling contractor's wagons killed the driver and his assistant. In May 1861, the excavation collapsed at Euston where it causes considerable damage to the nearby buildings. The final accident occurred in June 1862 when the Fleet sewer burst following a heavy rainstorm and flooded the excavations. The Met and the Metropolitan Board of Works managed to stem and divert the water and the construction was delayed by only a few months.

Trial runs were carried out from November 1861 while the construction is still underway. The first trip over the whole line was on May 1862 with William Godstone among the guests. By the end of 1862 work was complete at a cost of £1.3 million.

Board of Trade inspections took place in late December 1862 and early January 1863 to allow the approval of the opening. After minor signalling changes were made, approval was granted and a few days of operating trials were carried out before the grand opening on 9 January 1863, which included a ceremonial run from Paddington and a large banquet for 600 shareholders and guests at Farringdon. Charles Pearson did not live to see the project, he died in September 1862.

The 6km railway opened to the public on 10 February 1863, and connects the Great Western Railway and the Great Northern Railway. The route goes from Paddington, via Edgware Road, Baker Street, Portland Road (now Great Portland Street), Gower Street (now Euston Square), King's Cross and Farringdon Street (now Farringdon).

With connections to the GWR and GNR under construction, and connections to the other railways are planned, the Met had obtained permission to have four-track eastward extension to Moorgate via Barbican. It was opened on 1 March 1866.

In November 1860, the bill was presented to the Parliament supported by the Met to develop a railway line from the Paddington to the developing suburbs such as Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush, with the connection to the West London Railway at Latimer Road. It was authorised on 22 July 1861 as Hammersmith & City Railway. The link was opened on 1 July, whereas the line was opened on 13 June 1864 to Hammersmith.

The early success of the Met prompted a flurry of applications to Parliament in 1863 for new railways in London, many of them competing for similar routes. To consider the best proposals, the House of Lords established a select committee, which issued a report in July 1863 with a recommendation for an "inner circuit of railway that should abut, if not actually join, nearly all of the principal railway termini in the Metropolis". A number of railway schemes were presented for the 1864 parliamentary session that met the recommendation in varying ways and a joint committee composed of members of both Houses of Parliament was set up to review the options. In November 1863, The Times reported that about 30 railway schemes for London had been submitted for consideration in the next parliamentary session. Many of which seemed "to have been prepared on the spur of the moment, without much consideration either as to the cost of construction or as to the practicability of working them when made." Proposals from the Met to extend south from Paddington to South Kensington and east from Moorgate to Tower Hill had been accepted and received royal assent on 29 July 1864. The District was established as a separate company to enable funds to be raised independently of the Met.

Starting as a branch from Praed Street junction, the western extension passed through fashionable districts in Bayswater, Notting Hill and Kensington. Land values here were higher and, unlike the original line, the route did not follow an easy alignment under existing roads. Compensation payments for property were much higher. In Leinster Gardens, Bayswater, a façade of two five-storey houses was built at Nos. 23 and 24 to conceal the gap in a terrace created by the railway passing through. To ensure adequate ventilation, most of the line was in cutting except for a 421-yard (385 m) tunnel under Campden Hill. Construction of the District proceeded in parallel with the work on the Met and it too passed through expensive areas. Construction costs and compensation payments were so high that the cost of the first section of the District from South Kensington to Westminster was £3 million, almost three times as much as the Met's original, longer line.

In November 1883, notice was given and passed by the Parliament to allow the construction of City of London & Southwark Subway (CL&SS). The promoter of the bill, and engineer of the proposed railway, was James Henry Greathead, who had, in 1869–70, constructed the Tower Subway using the same tunnelling shield/segmented cast iron tube method proposed for the CL&SS. The railway was to run from Elephant and Castle, in Southwark, south London, under the River Thames to King William Street in the City of London. The tracks were to be in twin tunnels 10 ft 2 in (3.1 metres) in diameter, running for a distance of 1.25 miles (2.01 km).

In 1886, a further bill was submitted to Parliament to extend the tunnels south from Elephant and Castle to Kennington and Stockwell. This received assent on 12 July 1887 as the City of London and Southwark Subway (Kennington Extensions, &c.) Act, 1887, allowing the construction of the line which had began on 1886. The act was published on 25 July 1890 as the City and South London Railway Act, 1890, also effecting a change of the company's name.

The City and South London Railway (C&SLR) was the first deep-level underground "tube" railway in the world,Template:SfnTemplate:Refn and the first major railway to use electric traction. The railway was originally intended for cable-hauled trains, but owing to the bankruptcy of the cable contractor during construction, a system of electric traction using electric locomotives—an experimental technology at the time—was chosen instead.

When opened in 1890, the line had six stations and ran for Template:ConvertLength of line calculated from distances given at a pair of tunnels between the City of London and Stockwell, passing under the River Thames. The diameter of the tunnels restricted the size of the trains, and the small carriages with their high-backed seating were nicknamed padded cells. The railway was extended several times north and south, eventually serving 22 stations over a distance of Template:Convert from Camden Town in north London to Morden in Surrey. It had stations from Stockwell to King William Street.

Although the C&SLR was well used, low ticket prices and the construction cost of the extensions placed a strain on the company's finances. In 1913, the C&SLR became part of the Underground Group of railways and, in the 1920s, it underwent major reconstruction works before its merger with another of the Group's railways, the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway, forming a single London Underground line called the Morden-Edgware line. In 1933, the C&SLR and the rest of the Underground Group was taken into public ownership. Today, its tunnels and stations form the Bank Branch of the Northern line from Camden Town to Kennington and the southern leg of the line from Kennington to Morden.


Lines From To
Bakerloo Line Harrow & Wealdstone Queen's Park
Central Line Ealing Broadway
West Ruislip
White City
Stratford Epping & Hainault Loop
District Line Upminster Tower Hill
Earl's Court Ealing Broadway
Kensington (Olympia)
Hammersmith & City Line Hammersmith Paddington
Jubilee Line Stanmore Finchley Road
Metropolitan Line Amersham
Baker Street
Northern Line Morden Edgware
High Barnet
Mill Hill East
Piccadilly Line Cockfosters Arnos Grove
Hammersmith Uxbridge

Train Run Number[]

Train Run Number Line
Bakerloo Line
201 - 214 Stonebridge Park Depot
221 - 227 Queens Park
231 - 243 London Road Depot
245 Elephant & Castle
251 Stonebridge Park Depot - Elephant & Castle changeover train
745 Stonebridge Park Depot - London Road Depot stock transfer
Central Line
1 - 34 West Ruislip - Ealing Broadway
41 - 65 Hainault - White City/Ealing Broadway
70 - 76 Hainault - Ealing Broadway
101 - 107 Newbury Park - Ealing Broadway
110 - 117 Loughton - Northolt
120 - 124 Ruislip Depot interpeak siding
140 - 145 Hainault Depot interpeak siding
171 - 172 Hainault - Woodford shuttle (4 cars)
District Line
1 - 24 Upminster - Richmond
30 - 53 Upminster - Ealing Broadway
30 - 50 Barking - Ealing Broadway
55 - 67 Tower Hill - Ealing Broadway
70 - 77 Edgware Road - Wimbledon
101 - 112 Upminster Depot interpeak stablers
101 - 102 Upminster Depot changeover trains for overnight stablers
115 High Street Kensington overnight stablers
117 Richmond overnight stabler
111 - 112 Upminster Depot spare trains
120 - 126 Ealing Common Depot interpeak stablers
141 - 142 Ealing Common spare trains
151 - 152 High Street Kensington - Kensington (Olympia)
750 Ealing Common Depot to Upminster Depot
751 Upminster Depot to Ealing Common Depot
752 Upminster Depot to Barking sidings and return
753 Lille Bridge Depot to Plaistow Depot and return
Hammersmith & City Line / Circle Line
200 - 217 Hammersmith - Aldgate - Edgware Road (Circle Line)
230 - 246 Hammersmith - Barking (Hammersmith & City Line)
250 - 251 Hammersmith platform changeover trains
252 Edgware Road siding changeover trains
253 - 254 Edgware Road platform changeover trains
255 Aldgate platform changeover trains
256 - 257 Moorgate platform changeover trains
260 - 261 Hammersmith Depot
263 - 266 24-hour preparation changeover trains
701 Hammersmith Depot - Moorgate - Hammersmith Depot Test Train
702 Hammersmith Depot - Neasden Depot - Hammersmith Depot S7 Stock transfer
Jubilee Line
130 - 145 Night Tube trains
300 - 311 Stanmore Sidings
312 - 335 Neasden Depot
336 - 371 Stratford Market Depot
373 Wembley Stadium events spare train
Metropolitan Line
401 - 413 Chesham/Amersham - Aldgate
421 - 427 Watford - Baker Street
430 - 451 Uxbridge - Aldgate
454 & 455 Rickmansworth changeover trains
457 Watford changeover trains (nights)
460 - 474 Neasden Depot inter-peak stablers (Mon-Fri)
702 Ealing Common Depot - Neasden Depot - Ealing Common Depot S7 Stock transfer
711 - 713 Neasden Depot - Rickmansworth/Amersham test trains
714 Upminster Depot - Neasden Depot (evening) S7 Stock transfer
715 Neasden Depot - Upminster Depot (evening) S7 Stock transfer
Northern Line
1 - 30 Edgware - Bank - Morden
41 - 57 Edgware - Charing Cross - Kennington
60 - 65 Golders Green Depot
101 - 150 High Barnet - Morden (via Bank) / Kennington (via Charing Cross)
151 Mill Hill East - Finchley Central shuttle service
154 - 155 Highgate Depot
160 - 167 Morden Depot
732 Golders Green Depot to Morden Depot transfer path
733 Edgware to Golders Green Depot transfer path
734 High Barnet to Morden Depot transfer path
735 Highgate to Morden Depot transfer path
736 Golders Green Depot to Morden Depot transfer path
737 Morden Depot to Golders Green Depot transfer path
740 Golders Green Depot to Highgate transfer path
Piccadilly Line
220 - 260 Northfields Depot
300 - 334 Cockfosters Depot
340 - 345 Arnos Grove Sidings starters
350 - 357 Arnos Grove - Northfields
360 Uxbridge platform starter
361 Acton Town Sidings starters
362 - 365 South Harrow Sidings starters
365 - 366 Spare trains for Arsenal Stadium
367 Uxbridge platform overnight stablers
370 - 373 South Harrow Sidings overnight stablers
762 Arnos Grove Sidings - Cockfosters Depot, Test/Transfer paths
766 Northfields Depot - Cockfosters Depot, Test/Transfer paths
767 Cockfosters Depot - Northfields Depot, Test/Transfer paths
Victoria Line
201 - 203 Brixton
204 Victoria Siding
205 - 206 Walthamstow Central
210 - 247 Northumberland Park Depot
260 - 264 Staff shuttle trains
266 - 277 Interpeak stabling trains for Walthamstow Central Depot
Waterloo & City Line
201 - 204 Waterloo & City Line

Disused Stations[]

Although there are 270 functioning stations across our network, there are at least 40, Overground and Underground stations, which still exist but are no longer used.

Closed for a variety of reasons, from low passenger numbers to re-routing, these stations have had interesting histories, with some providing vital refuge throughout the wars. 

During World War Two, many stations were used as public shelters and underground offices for London Underground and government staff. Down Street station was transformed into an underground facility with phone lines, and even hosted a meeting of the War Cabinet. Another, Brompton Road, was sold to the war Office in 1938 and is still used by the Ministry of Defence today.

Stations have also played a part in Britain's cultural life. Aldwych station, for example, was used to house the National Gallery's collection during WWI and British Museum artefacts (including the Elgin Marbles), during WWII.

In more recent years, Aldwych has doubled up as a filming location for productions as diverse as The Prodigy's 'Firestarter' music video, and zombie movie, '28 Weeks Later.' A much modified and expanded version of the station appears as a level in the Tomb Raider III, with gun.

London Underground landmarks[]

  1. Battersea Power Station

Rolling Stock[]


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