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Underground of the World


Some history…

London is the first city with an underground railway system. The first construction plans were proposed as soon as the 1830's. The capital of Great Britain had been developing very rapidly in that period. The number of people coming to the city vibrant with life had been increasing. New houses, shops and banks had been built. The newly built streets became crowded very quickly. The city authorities noticed a problem in the harmful and dangerous street crowding of the ever expanding city. The decision to build the first underground railway lines was made in 1945 and the first passengers travelled the Paddington-Farringdon line on the 10th of January 1863. The opening ceremony was conducted by Queen Victoria.

The first underground line was built with the opencast method and steam trains were used to carry passengers. The first electric drive trains were introduced in 1890. The line was named Metropolitan Railway, hence the international and popular term for urban railway - Metro.

The first lines of the London Underground were built by several private and independent of each other corporations. Companies cooperated with each other very unwillingly, which caused communicational chaos and made traveling by the Underground difficult. Not until 1933 did almost all the Underground lines become property of the state and were integrated later. At that time London Passenger Transport Board was brought to life.

A historical titbit, connected with the construction of the oldest underground railway in the world is that the first underwater tunnel that has ever been built is the tunnel under the Thames River. It was built by Sir Marc Brunel and his son Isambard in 1843 r. Initially designed for horse traffic, the tunnel became part of the London Underground in 1869.

The current logo of the London Underground was first presented in 1913. It has become a symbol of London and a sign popular all around the world. It was designed by Edward Johnson.


 London Underground logo (source

Harry Beck designed a diagrammatic map of the Underground network in 1933 and it has been used until today.

During World War II Londoners used some stations of the Underground as air-raid shelters when the city was bombarded. The city authorities, initially critical of this practice, in later stages of the war organized themselves shelters and safe meetings in the underground tunnels.


Harry Beck and his diagrammatic project of the Underground lines (source:


The Present Time

The London Underground is currently the main and easiest means of transport for the majority of Greater London area and the neighboring counties: Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The railway line system runs in underground tunnels, although also in a considerable part on ground. Londoners call it popularly „The Tube”. One can go by the Tube virtually everywhere, although north from Thames the underground railway network is not that well developed as in the remaining parts of the city.

The Tube is serviced by 12 lines and 275 stations, from which 67 are situated in the city center and 14 completely outside of the administrative borders of Greater London. The total length of the Tube is approximately 408 kilometers. The trains in London run every several minutes, depending on the time of the day. Due to such a dense railway complex this means of transport has become the fastest and most popular way of traveling around the capital of Great Britain.

The London Underground is a city within a city. More than a dozen of lines and tens of stations require perfect knowledge to travel by the Tube. Numerous stations are junctions of four or even five lines, which means dealing with a maze of stairs and corridors.

The Underground's stations are a sort of terrain landmarks. The name of a station is always mentioned in job or housing advertisements.

In the 8 million people city of London almost 3 million inhabitants use the Tube on a daily basis. Because of such a developed railway communication complex - individual stations were assigned both colors and names in order to facilitate traveling and make the information more obvious. Numerous other urban transport maps all around the world are modeled on such a solution.

The London Underground is utmost popular, a proof of which is the crowd in peak hours. Currently, the Underground is undergoing the biggest modernization works in its history. They are mainly connected with the London hosted 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Stations are being renovated and tracks are being replaced. Because of the traffic intensity and popularity of traveling by the Underground, these works are made in small steps, so that no part of London is paralyzed.

London Underground in numbers

  •       Average train speed is 33 km/h including station stops.
  •       Longest Underground line is Central Line- 74 km.
  •       Longest distance between two stations- 6.26 km
  •       The station situated deepest underground is Hampstead - 58.5 meters below sea level
  •       The busiest station is Victoria – 76.5 million passengers per year
  •       Number of people employed by the London Underground- 12,350
  •       The total number of passengers carried every year - 1 billion

In London there are approximately 50 unused tube stations. The abandoned "ghost stations" are used for shooting feature films and music video clips.


London Underground map (source 


Map colour

First operated

Bakerloo Line



Central Line



Circle Line



District Line



East London Line



Hammersmith & City Line



Jubilee Line



Metropolitan Line



Northern Line



Piccadilly Line

Dark Blue


Victoria Line

Light Green


Waterloo & City Line



Underground lines in London

The capital of Great Britain is situated in the south-east part of England (of which is also the capital) on the Thames River. London has 7.6 million inhabitants and the city covers an area of 1607 square kilometers. It is the second biggest city in Europe (Moscow being the first) and one of the biggest in the world.

Just like other metropolises in the world, London contends with the problem of congestions during rush hours. Additionally, land development has an influence on the major communication difficulties. The streets are narrow and there is little space.