Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Tube: 150 Years

by Zoe Rundle


This week, we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. First established in 1863, it currently runs eleven lines which cover the width and breadth of London. It stretches out to Buckinghamshire, Essex and Herefordshire and has the reputation as the oldest underground railway in the world. Over all the 260 active stations, the year 2012 saw just under 1.2 billion people use the tube throughout the course of the twelve months making it the third busiest metro in the world behind Moscow and Paris.

When it first opened in January 1863, the London Underground was carrying over 26,000 passengers per day within the first few months of opening. As the years went on, more stations were added to various different lines and new lines themselves were developed. For example, five years later the Metropolitan District Railway began operating from South Kensington to Westminster. By the end of the 1880s the railway had reached Chesham on the Metropolitan Line, Hounslow, Wimbledon and Whitechapel on the District Line and New Cross on the East London Railway.

The name of 'The Tube' comes from the spherical shape through which the trains travel. Following advances in the likes of deep-tunnels designs and tunnelling shields, more lines were built further underground which caused far less complication and actually made it cheaper. The most recent line developed was the Jubilee Line in 1979, however nine years later the Metropolitan Line was renamed the Hammersmith and City line. The Central Line is known as the busiest of them all making 260,916,000 trips per annum with 5672,000 the average number of trips per mile. The Waterloo and City Line is the less frequently used with just 15,982,000 trips per year. This can be referred to as the Turquoise Line as well as the Waterloo and City Line. The colours have been introduced to represent the different underground lines and to make it easier for individuals to plan the journey before hand.

In terms of ticketing, an Oyster Card was introduced in 2003 which individuals can charge up with credit to use on the lines. This travel card can be used not just on the underground, but for various methods of public transport, for example, buses, trams and the national rail. However, with the amount of people purchasing tickets and using the Tube, it can be known to get crowded causing 95.2% of the passengers travelling to be affected by it. The Tube can get particularly busy when football matches are taking place at the likes of The Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge and most notably at the 90,000-seater stadium, Wembley. At times like this the British Transport Police can be used to order control passengers since it can get so busy.

My last experience on the Tube came in November, on a school trip; travelling around London was ever so easy using this method of transport. While it was rather hectic at times, since there was a large group of us, it was well organised and the colour scheme given to each line made it all simple to follow. This trip confirmed my opinion of the familiar system as an organised and well-structured set-up which remains to be used by thousands each day 150 years on from its formation.


  1. The extension to the Jubilee line opened in 1999!

  2. I cant beleive it's that old :0000!!!!!

  3. I use the tube a lot. When it is busy or empty it is a fabulous experience, but I'm surprised it has been running that long.


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