London Underground

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File:London Underground Symbol.jpg
Slight modifications to the famous London Underground roundel indicate the name of each station on platform and some outdoor signs.
File:Why London Underground is nicknamed The Tube.jpg
The nickname "Tube" comes from the almost circular tube-like tunnels through which the small profile trains travel. This photograph shows a southbound Northern Line train leaving a tunnel mouth just north of Hendon Central station.

The London Underground is a metro system which covers the Greater London area and beyond. It is an electric railway which, despite its name, runs both above and below ground. It is usually referred to by Londoners as either simply "the Underground" or, more familiarly, as "the Tube". It is the oldest and biggest such underground system in the world. Operations began on 10 January 1863 on the Metropolitan Railway; most of the initial route is now part of the Hammersmith & City Line.

The Underground currently serves 274 stations and runs over 253 miles (408 km) of lines. There are also a number of stations and tunnels which are now closed. In 2004–05, total passenger rides or journeys reached a record level of 976 million, an average of 2.67 million per day.

Since 2003, the Underground has been part of Transport for London (TfL), which also schedules and lets contracts for London's buses, including the famous red double-decker buses. Previously London Regional Transport was the holding company for London Underground.


Main article: History of the London Underground

The first section of the London Underground (the "Metropolitan Railway") ran between Paddington and Farringdon and was the world's first urban underground passenger-carrying railway. After delays for financial and other reasons following the scheme's adoption in 1854, public traffic eventually began on 10 January 1863. 40,000 passengers were carried over the line that day, with trains running every 10 minutes; by 1880 the expanded 'Met' was carrying 40 million passengers a year. Other lines swiftly followed, and by 1884 the Circle Line ("Inner Circle") was completed. All these early lines used steam-hauled trains, which required effective ventilation to the surface. Advances in electric traction later allowed tunnels to be placed deeper underground than the original cut-and-cover method, especially as deep-level tunnel design (including the use of tunnelling shields) improved. The first "deep-level" line, the City & South London Railway, now part of the Northern Line, opened in 1890.

In the early 20th century, the presence of six independent operators running different Underground lines caused passengers substantial inconvenience; in many places passengers had to walk some distance above ground to change between lines. The costs associated with running such a system were also heavy, and as a result many companies looked to financiers who could give them the money they needed to expand into the lucrative suburbs. The most prominent of these was Charles Yerkes, an American tycoon who between 1900 and 1902 acquired the Metropolitan District Railway and the as yet unbuilt Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (later to become part of the Northern Line). Yerkes also acquired the Great Northern & Strand Railway, Brompton & Piccadilly Circus Railway (jointly to become the core of the Piccadilly Line) and Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (to become the Bakerloo Line), creating the Underground Electric Railways of London Company Ltd (Underground) on 9 April 1902. That company also owned many tram lines and went on to buy the London General Omnibus Company, creating an organisation colloquially known as the Combine.

In 1933, a public corporation called the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) was created. The Underground Group, the Metropolitan Railway and all the independent bus and tram lines were placed under the Board, an organisation which approximated in scope the current Transport for London. The Board set in train a scheme for expansion of the network—he 1935–40 New Works plan—which was to provide extensions of some lines, and to take over the operation of other lines from their current operators; however, the outbreak of World War II froze all these schemes. From mid-1940, the Blitz led to the use of many Tube stations as air-raid shelters, first on an ad hoc basis which the authorities tried to prevent, but later with proper bunks, latrines and catering facilities. Following the war, travel congestion continued to rise. The construction of the carefully planned Victoria Line on a diagonal northeast-southwest alignment beneath central London attracted much of the extra traffic caused by expansion after the war. The Piccadilly Line was extended to Heathrow Airport in 1977, and the Jubilee Line was opened in 1979.

Public-Private Partnership

Since January 2003, the London Underground has been operated as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), where all the infrastructure is maintained by private companies but the Underground is still owned and operated by Transport for London (TfL). The network was split into three parts—JNP (Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines), BCV (Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines) and SSL (the sub-surface lines—District, Metropolitan, East London, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines). The BCV and SSL contracts were won by Metronet, while JNP was won by Tube Lines. These companies are known as Infracos—Infrastructure Companies—and are made up of consortia of different companies: Metronet, for example, is a consortium of Balfour Beatty, WS Atkins, Bombardier, EDF Energy and RWE Thames Water.

2005 terrorist attacks

Main article: July 2005 London bombings


On 7 July 2005, a series of terrorist bombs exploded on Underground trains between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations, Russell Square and King's Cross St Pancras stations, and Edgware Road and Paddington stations. A double-decker bus at Tavistock Square was also destroyed in the attacks. The explosions killed 56 people, and resulted in over 700 casualties. A second series of minor explosions occurred two weeks later on 21 July 2005 at Shepherd's Bush, Warren Street and Oval stations and on a bus in Shoreditch. Little damage was done and only one person was injured, and it was later discovered that all four bombs had failed to detonate properly.



London Underground Day Travelcard

London Underground uses Transport for London's Travelcard zones to calculate fares, including fares for use on the Underground only. Travelcard Zone 1 is the most central, with a boundary just beyond the Circle Line and Travelcard Zone 6 is the most outlying and includes London Heathrow Airport. Zones 1 to 6 cover all of Greater London.

A few extra stations in neighbouring areas come under zones 5 and 6. For the rest of the network which is outside Greater London, a group of ancillary zones named A, B, C and D are used. Of these, Zone D is the most remote and consists of Amersham and Chesham in the Chiltern distict. These lettered zones are only used on the Metropolitan Line and do not encircle the capital.

In general, the more zones travelled through, the higher the fare. Journeys through Zone 1 are more expensive than those involving only outer zones. The zone system works well because the most popular destinations and the stations where lines cross are in zone 1, meaning that most journeys over similar distances will cost the same.

There are staffed ticket offices open for limited periods and ticket machines usable at any time. While some machines which sell a limited number of tickets accept only coins, other touch-screen ticket machines will accept coins and English paper money—though not Northern Irish or Scottish notes—in good condition, and usually give change. These machines also accept major credit and debit cards and some newer machines will accept payment only by card.


Main article: Travelcard

Daily, three-day, seven-day, monthly and annual Travelcards are also available, allowing unlimited rides in one or more zones on the London Underground and most other forms of transport in London, including most National Rail services, buses, Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway.

Most regular travellers use Travelcards, and they are substantially better value for money than single tickets for anyone making more than a couple of journeys a day. Off-peak Travelcards, also known as "Day Travelcards", are sold only after 09:30, although a Peak Day Travelcard is also available at a higher price. Many shops, usually newsagents, sell bus passes and Travelcards; these are identified by a "Ticket Stop" sign, usually in a door panel or front window. A Day Travelcard is valid until 04:30 on the day after the date of issue.

Oyster Card

Main article: Oyster Card

In 2003, Transport for London launched the Oyster card. It is a proximity card, which on buses, trams and on the Underground allows a traveller to touch the card on one of the yellow readers positioned on the automatic entrance and exit gates rather than feeding it through a card ticket reader.

Unlike card tickets, the Oyster Card is not disposable, and value - either 'Prepay' or Travelcards - can be added to it at computerised ticket machines and at ticket offices. Where Prepay is used the cost of each journey is deducted from a stored balance. As of October 2005, weekly, monthly and annual Travelcards issued by London Underground or directly by Transport for London are only available on Oyster cards.

Daily travelcards are not sold on Oyster Card but a system called 'Capping' ensures that on each day of use no more than the equivalent travelcard price is deducted from the balance. The balance can be automatically topped up with funds from a credit or debit card when the balance becomes low, a feature known as 'auto top-up'. Tickets and prepay can be purchased via a website or over the telephone. The Oyster Card system is designed to eliminate the need to purchase tickets at the station for most users.

Summary of ticket types

The following tickets are available from London Underground and Transport for London ticket agents for use on the Underground:

Ticket Paper Oyster Notes
Single Yes Yes Paper tickets are priced at a higher rate
Day Travelcard (Peak) Yes No The maximum daily spend on Oyster is capped at the price of a Day Travelcard.
Day Travelcard (Off-Peak) Yes No Valid after 0930 on weekdays, all day at weekends and on bank holidays.
Three Day Travelcard Yes No
Family Travelcard Yes No Valid after 0930 on weekdays, all day at weekends and on bank holidays.
Weekly Travelcard No Yes
Monthly Travelcard No Yes Requires registration
Annual Travelcard No Yes Requires registration

Detailed information on tickets and pricing is available from the Transport for London website.

Penalty fares and fare evasion

In addition to the automatic and staffed ticket gates at stations, the Underground is patrolled by both uniformed and plain-clothes ticket inspectors equipped with hand-held Oyster card readers. Passengers travelling without a ticket valid for their entire journey are required to pay a £20 penalty fare or face prosecution for fare evasion. Oyster pre-pay users who have failed to 'touch in' at the start of their journey are also considered to be travelling without a valid ticket.

Touts at stations can often be seen attempting to illegally resell used Day Travelcards which they have begged from passers-by leaving the station. Transport for London strongly discourage this, and point out that these tickets are not valid as Day Travelcards are non-transferable. Underground staff and inspectors will confiscate tickets which they know to have been resold, and may require the passenger using them to pay a penalty fare. At some stations touts have become a major problem for London Underground, as they can cause an obstruction and harass passengers and staff. In an attempt to reduce this problem, a successful experiment took place at Brixton station in 2002. A box was provided at the station exit into which passengers were encouraged to deposit Travelcards which were no longer required, and for each ticket deposited London Underground made a donation to local charities for the homeless.

Station access

Due to its age—accessibility was not considered an important issue when the system was built—not all Underground stations are accessible by people with mobility problems. Many have some of the 410 escalators (each going at a speed of 145 ft per minute, approximately 1.65 miles per hour) or 112 lifts. New stations are designed for accessibility, but retrofitting accessibility features to old stations is considered prohibitively expensive.

The escalators in London Underground stations are both an asset and a liability. They are among the longest escalators in Europe and all are custom-built for each station. They must run 20 hours a day, 364 days a year and cope with 13,000 people per hour, with 95% of them operational at any one time. Etiquette dictates that people using escalators on the Underground stand on the right-hand side or walk on the left.

Transport for London now produces a map specifically indicating which stations are accessible and more recent line maps display with the symbol of a wheelchair which stations provide step-free access to street level. However, step height from platform to train is often as high as 200 mm on some lines, and there can be a large gap between the train and some curving platforms. Only the Jubilee Line Extension is completely usable by the unassisted wheelchair-using traveller.

Safety, reliability and cost

File:Way out tube.jpg
'Way Out' sign indicates the exit - these tiled signs are typical in stations designed by Leslie Green, many of which survive
File:Westminster underground.JPG
Westminster station - extensive support structures are required because Portcullis House is above.

The London Underground has an excellent passenger safety record. Suicides are nonetheless common, at roughly one successful attempt per week across the network, though it is estimated that there are three attempts for each fatality. To help prevent death, most deep tube stations have pits between the tracks at platforms; known as a 'suicide pit', their purpose is to let a body fall safely under the tracks and away from the path of an oncoming train. They were not part of the original construction, and had to be dug out later when the suicide problem became apparent. Delays resulting from a person jumping in front of the train as it pulls into a station are announced as "passenger action" or "a person under a train", but are referred to by staff as a "one under".

Relatively few accidents are caused by overcrowding on the platforms, although Underground staff monitor platforms and passageways by CCTV and prevent people entering the system if they become overcrowded. Camden Town station is exit-only on Sunday afternoons (13:00–17:30) for the same reason.

However, the Underground's staff safety regimen has drawn criticism. In January 2002, London Underground was fined £225,000 for breaching safety standards for workers. In court, the judge said the company was "sacrificing safety" to keep the trains running "at all costs." Workers had been ordered to work in the dark whilst the traction current was still switched on, often whilst it was raining. Several workers received electric shocks as a result. [1]

Smoking was banned on all carriages on the trains in July 1984, except for a middle carriage. The ban was extended, for a six-month trial, to all parts of the Underground in summer 1987, and this was made permanent after the King's Cross fire in November 1987.

The fire at King's Cross station on 18 November 1987 was caused by a burning match falling onto a wooden escalator tread and then igniting grease-laden dust accumulated in the drive mechanism below the escalator. Thirty-one people died in the fire, which prompted the phasing out of wooden escalators and improved safety training for staff.

There have also been a number of high profile derailments in recent years, mostly on the Central Line. Thankfully none of these incidents have resulted in serious injury or loss of life.

The system has suffered from significant under-funding in the past two decades and consequently has far older carriages and signals than its equivalents in such cities as Barcelona, Madrid and Paris. Recently, one of the private infrastructure companies, Tube Lines, was reported as using eBay to find spare parts for some of its equipment because they were not available any other way.[2]


File:London Underground Zone 1.png
Zone 1 (central zone) of the London Underground network in a more geographically accurate layout than the usual Tube map, using the same style

The Underground does not run 24 hours a day because all track maintenance must be done at night after the system closes (unlike other metro systems, such as the New York City Subway, the Underground does not have express tracks that would allow trains to be rerouted around maintenance sites). Recently, greater use has been made of weekend closures of parts of the system to allow scheduled engineering works.

For information on the Underground's rolling stock, see London Underground rolling stock.


London Underground currently serves 273 stations, which are listed, along with DLR stations, at List of London Underground stations. Stations formerly served by the Underground or its predecessor companies can be found in the list of closed London Underground stations.

The Underground nominally serves 275 stations, but with Heathrow Terminal 4 and Queensway currently closed, at present it serves 273. The temporary closure of Heathrow Terminal 4 is for the Heathrow loop to be modified for servicing of Terminal 5, a new two-platform Piccadilly Line terminus. It is planned that services will run in the following pattern:

  • Hatton Cross - Heathrow T1,2,3 - Heathrow T5 - Heathrow T1,2,3 Hatton Cross
  • Hatton Cross - Heathrow T4 - Heathrow T1,2,3 - Hatton Cross

Some stations have only one platform. These are:


File:London Underground subsurface and tube trains.jpg
London Underground trains come in two sizes, larger sub-surface line trains and smaller tube line trains. Here a Metropolitan Line 'A' stock train passes a much smaller Piccadilly Line 1973 tube-stock train in the siding at Rayners Lane station.

Lines on the Underground can be classified into two types: sub-surface and deep level. The sub-surface lines were dug by the cut-and-cover method, with the tracks running about 5 m below the surface. Trains on the sub-surface lines have the same loading gauge as British mainline trains. The deep-level or "tube" lines, bored using a tunnelling shield, run about 20 m below the surface (although this varies considerably), with each track running in a separate tunnel lined with cast-iron rings. These tunnels can have a diameter as small as 3.56 m (11 ft 8.25 in) and the loading gauge is thus considerably smaller than on the sub-surface lines, though standard gauge track is used. Lines of both types usually emerge onto the surface outside the central area, the exceptions being the Victoria Line which is in tunnel for its entire length save for a maintenance depot, and the Waterloo & City Line which, being very short, has no non-central part and no surface line. In total, only 45% of the length of the Underground network is in tunnel.

The lack of lines in the south of the city is sometimes attributed to the geology of that area, the region being almost one large aquifer; additionally, it is impossible for cut and cover lines to go under the River Thames, although the East London Line is for the most part a sub-surface line (with the more generous sub-surface loading gauge), which uses Brunel's Thames Tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe, originally build for pedestrian use, to pass under the Thames; additionally, the District Line crosses the Thames by bridge in two locations in the West (where the Thames is narrower), at Putney and at Kew. Rather, the reason seems to be that during the great period of tube-building around the end of the 19th century, South London was already well-served by the electrified and efficiently run suburban lines of the London and South Western Railway and the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and so there was no need for the Underground to expand into those areas. Indeed, to this day, the area is served by a large number of suburban rail services run by the South West Trains, Southern and South East Trains franchise holders, with varying degrees of efficiency (see Rail transport in the United Kingdom). More recently, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) has been built to serve the east of London, and extends as far south as Lewisham. The Underground interchanges with the DLR at several stations, including Bank, Canary Wharf and Stratford, as well as with the Tramlink system at Wimbledon. Despite these new links, many residents of south and south-east London feel neglected by the Underground proper.

The London Underground connects with international Eurostar trains at Waterloo, and runs to Heathrow Airport (Piccadilly Line). Although the latter is slow (52 minutes nominal to Green Park) and often crowded, it is a far cheaper way to travel to the city centre than the Heathrow Express, which is not part of the tube network.

Links to Stansted Airport care of the Stansted Express are at Liverpool Street (on the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines) and Tottenham Hale (on the Victoria Line) and to Gatwick care of the Gatwick Express at Victoria, served by the District, Circle and Victoria Lines. A new link to Stansted will be opening later in Summer 2005 from Stratford, served by the Central and Jubilee Lines, as well as the DLR.

The table below describes each of the lines, giving the colour presently used to represent the line on the ubiquitous Tube maps, the date the first section opened and the type of tunnel used.

London Underground lines
Line Name Map colour Opened Type Length
Bakerloo Line style="background:#Template:Bakerloo Line colour;"|Brown 1906 Deep level 23 km / 14 miles
Central Line style="background:#Template:Central Line colour;"|Red 1900 Deep level 74 km / 46 miles
Circle Line1 style="background:#Template:Circle Line colour;"|Yellow 1884 Sub-surface 22 km / 14 miles
District Line2 style="background:#Template:District Line colour; color:white;"|Green 1868 Sub-surface 64 km / 40 miles
East London Line3 style="background:#Template:East London Line colour;"|Orange 1869 Sub-surface 8 km / 5 miles
Hammersmith & City Line4 style="background:#Template:Hammersmith & City Line colour;"|Pink 1863 Sub-surface 14 km / 9 miles
Jubilee Line style="background:#Template:Jubilee Line colour; color:white;"|Silver 1979 Deep level 36 km / 23 miles
Metropolitan Line style="background:#Template:Metropolitan Line colour; color:white;"|Purple 1863 Sub-surface 67 km / 42 miles
Northern Line5 style="background:#Template:Northern Line colour; color:white;"|Black 1890 Deep level 58 km / 36 miles
Piccadilly Line style="background:#Template:Piccadilly Line colour; color:white;"|Dark Blue 1906 Deep level 71 km / 44 miles
Victoria Line style="background:#Template:Victoria Line colour;"|Light Blue 1969 Deep level 21 km / 13 miles
Waterloo & City Line6 style="background:#Template:Waterloo & City Line colour;"|Teal 1898 Deep level 2 km / 1.5 miles
  1. The Circle Line became known as such in 1949, although it was a long-established service on the system. The Circle Line was not built as a separate line, but was instead created as a service using parts of the District and Metropolitan Lines.
  2. Originally called the Metropolitan District Railway
  3. Originally a separate line operated by a consortium of companies including the Metropolitan. The line was owned by London Underground from 1948, but British Railways goods trains continued to run on it until 1966. It was for many years regarded as a branch of the Metropolitan Line, and was shown on the map as a purple and white striped line. The line gained its own identity in the late 1980s.
  4. Originally part of the Metropolitan Line, the line became known as the Hammersmith & City Line in 1990.
  5. The busiest line on the system, with two branches in central London.
  6. Came under control of London Transport in 1994.

The future

Planned investment

The UK government has promised £16 billion of funding over the years until 2030, with early priorities to cut delays and improve reliability including refurbishments of lifts and escalators, more thorough cleaning and a new station serving the new Wembley Stadium. The Victoria Line will receive new signalling systems and seven new trains, along with renewal of track and equipment on many other lines. The Jubilee Line will receive £160 million for new signalling equipment and new trains, bringing the total to 63 seven-car sets built by Alstom, although they will not be built in the UK. The Victoria and sub-surface lines will receive 1,738 new cars between 2008 and 2015, to be built in Derby. The Bakerloo Line will not receive new trains until 2019. The Metropolitan, District, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines will receive 190 new trains, built by Bombardier, meaning all sub-surface trains will be of the same design giving easier maintenance. The trains will feature inter-car gangways enhancing passenger safety, and improved acceleration and braking allowing an increase in train frequency, in the case of the Victoria Line from 28 trains per hour to 33. The last trains to be replaced, 75 District Line trains, will get interim refurbishments.

Westinghouse Rail Systems Ltd. will continue to supply signalling equipment; already 75% of installed control equipment has been supplied by Westinghouse.


East London Line

Preparations are underway to extend the East London Line (ELL) both northwards and southwards while replacing the current 'sub-surface underground' service with one resembling "Metro" surface trains. The northern extension will see the current Shoreditch station closed and the line run on the old Broad Street viaduct to Dalston and then Highbury & Islington, to connect with the Victoria Line. This would bring a non-National Rail service to Hackney for the first time. To the south, two branches are planned, mainly using existing railway lines. The first will run to West Croydon, with a spur to Crystal Palace, while the second would run to Clapham Junction. These changes will by 2010 transform the line from a small stub in the network to a major transport artery.

It is also proposed that together with the existing West London Line and North London Line, the extended ELL could by 2016 form the basis of the long-sought 'Orbital Rail route'.

Piccadilly Line

A new station is being built on the Piccadilly Line to serve Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. The extension (called PiccEx) consists of a two-platform station, two sidings where trains can be stabled, approximately 3 km of 4.5 m diameter bored tunnels, a ventilation shaft and two escape shafts. Civil works for the two tunnels, the vent shaft, one escape shaft and the structure of T5 station have been completed and track work is now being installed. The junction between PiccEx and the existing Heathrow Loop is now being constructed: this work requires that the tunnel between Terminal 4 and Terminals 1,2,3 stations be taken out of service until September 2006. The extension is due to be opened in 2007.

Metropolitan Line

TfL, together with Hertfordshire County Council, plans to connect the Watford branch of the Metropolitan Line to the disused Croxley Green Network Rail branch. This will bring the Underground back to central Watford and the important main line station Watford Junction, but the current Watford (Metropolitan) station will probably close.

More detailed information on all projects can be found at


In the summer weather, temperatures on the Underground can become very uncomfortable for passengers. Normal air conditioning has been ruled out because of the lack of space available to install units on trains and the problems of dispersing the heat generated. Heat pumps were trialled in 1938 and were proposed again several years ago to overcome this. Following a successful demonstration in 2001 funds were given to the School of Engineering at London's South Bank University to develop a prototype; work began in April 2002. A cash reward of £100,000 was offered by the Mayor of London during the hot Summer of 2003 for a solution to the problem but the competition ended in 2005 without a winner being announced.

The new fleet of trains for the sub-surface lines (Circle, District, H&C, Metropolitan and East London lines) will come with air-cooling. The first air-cooled trains are due to arrive in 2009.

There are posters on the Underground suggesting that passengers carry a bottle of water with them.



File:LU Leytonstone sign.jpg
The use of the London Underground roundel with the station name in the blue bar dates from 1908 and is still in use today

London Transport's tube map (pdf) and "roundel" logo are instantly recognisable by any Londoner, almost any Briton, and many people around the world. The stylised Tube map as we now know it (original maps were often street-maps with the location of the lines superimposed) evolved from an original design[3] by electrical engineer Harry Beck in 1931. See Tube map for an in-depth analysis of its history and its topological nature.

The origins of the roundel, which in earlier years was known as the 'bulls-eye' or 'target', are more obscure. While the first use of a roundel in a London transport context was the 19th-century symbol of the London General Omnibus Company - a wheel with a bar across the centre bearing the word GENERAL, the usage of the roundel on the Underground stems from the decision in 1908 to find a more obvious way of highlighting station names on platforms. The red disc with blue name bar was quickly adapted, with the use of the word "UNDERGROUND" across the bar, as an early corporate identity[4]. The logo was modified by Edward Johnston in 1919. Johnston also designed London Transport's distinctive sans-serif typeface in 1916. A version of the typeface, since modified to include a lower case, continues in use today. The new typeface is noted for the curl at the bottom of the minuscule "l", which other sans-serif typefaces have discarded, and for the diamond-shaped tittle on the minuscule "i". Much of the reason for the widespread recognition of the London Transport logo is its ubiquitous usage on London Transport documents and signage. It is used for all tube station signs (where the station name appears on the horizontal bar), for example, as well as in-carriage maps.

Each station displays the Underground logo containing the station's name in place of the word "Underground", both at entrances to the station and repeatedly along the station walls, so that they can easily be seen by passengers on arriving trains. In addition, many stations' walls are decorated in tile motifs that are unique to the station, such as profiles of Sherlock Holmes' head at Baker Street station or a cross containing a crown at King's Cross St Pancras station.

Since TfL took control of London's transport the roundel has been applied to other transport types within the city (bus, taxi, tram, DLR etc) in different colour pairs. The roundel has become a symbol for London itself.

TfL is known for taking legal action against unauthorised use of its trademarks, in spite of which unauthorised copies of the logo continue to crop up worldwide. Ranges of clothing and other accessories featuring TfL's graphic elements are available.

In popular culture

See also: List of London Underground-related fiction See also: Fictional underground stations


  • An estimated half a million mice live on the Underground system, and can often be seen running around the tracks. TV personality Anthea Turner has written a series of children's books about these (London Underground mice).
  • Only two people have had their coffins transported on the Underground: William Gladstone and Dr Barnardo.
  • Regent's Park, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner and Bank stations have no associated buildings at or above ground level, the stations, except for access stairs, being entirely underground.
  • On 13 May 1924, a woman named Daisy Hammond gave birth on a Bakerloo Line train at Elephant and Castle. Press reports that the baby had been named Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor were widely reprinted, and not debunked until 2000 when she was traced for a TV interview. In fact she was named Mary Ashfield Eleanor; the chairman of the Underground Group, Lord Ashfield, was her godfather.
  • The record for visiting all 275 stations in the shortest possible time currently stands at 18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds. It is held by Geoff Marshall and Neil Blake.[6]
  • The longest distance between 2 stations is 6.26 km (3.89 miles) between Chalfont & Latimer and Chesham on the Metropolitan line. The shortest distance between 2 stations is 250 metres (0.16 miles) between Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line.
  • St John's Wood is the only station which contains none of the letters of the word 'mackerel'.
  • In January 2005 London Underground announced that it would play classical music at stations prone to loitering by youths. A trial had shown a 33% drop in abuse against staff. This had been first tried, with success, on the Tyne and Wear Metro. [7]
  • There are only two Underground stations that have all five vowels in them—South Ealing and Mansion House. Heathrow Terminal 4 also contains all five vowels, if 4 is spelled out as four.
  • A fragrance called "Madeleine" was introduced at St James's Park, Euston and Piccadilly Circus stations on 23 March 2001, in an effort to make the Underground smell better. It was taken out of action on 24 March 2001 as it was making people feel sick.
  • The Jubilee Line is the only line which intersects all others. The District Line meets all other lines except the Metropolitan Line—which it misses by approximately 20 m at Aldgate.
  • Arsenal is the only Underground station named after a London football club (it was previously known as Gillespie Road). West Ham comes close, but the full name of the football club is West Ham United.
  • The recorded "mind the gap" announcements heard when passengers are getting on and off trains were recorded by Emma Clarke, who runs a London-based voiceover agency.

More London Underground Tube Trivia.

See also


  • James Meek, London Review of Books, 5 May 2005, "Crocodile's Breath"
  • Christian Wolmar (2004) The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City For Ever, Atlantic
  • Christian Wolmar (2002) Down the Tube: the Battle for London's Underground, Aurum Press
  • John R. Day, John Reed (2001), The Story of London's Underground, Capital Transport Publishing
  • Michael Saler (1999), The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: 'Medieval Modernism' and the London Underground, Oxford University Press
  • Michael Saler (1995), "The 'Medieval Modern' Underground: Terminus of the Avant-Garde", Modernism/Modernity 2:1, January 1995, pp. 113-144
  • Ken Garland (1994), Mr. Beck's Underground Map, Capital Transport Publishing

External links





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