For a start, most of the London underground network is NOT underground!

Photo by George Morina on Pexels.com

The entire London Underground network is around two hundred and forty-nine miles long, but only about forty-five per cent of those miles are underground. The London Tube was the first underground railway network in the world. 

The Metropolitan Railway, as it was then branded then, began running between Paddington and Farringdon Street, on January 10, 1863. Around Thirty thousand passengers travelled on The Metropolitan Railway on its first day of business. On October 09, 2015, London Underground recorded its busiest day on record with 4.735 million passengers travelling on the rail service that day.

Since then, the Underground network came into being in 1863, it has grown to two hundred and seventy stations and eleven lines spreading deep into the London suburbs, and beyond. At peak times, there are over five hundred and forty-three trains speeding around the Capital.

Originally, the Tube was planned so that illiterate people could navigate it. Have you ever seen how some Tube stations are coloured/some tiles contrast? The designs were initially fashioned to help travellers recognise the station they had reached without the benefit of the white and blue signs customers were used to seeing daily.

It’s a known fact many Tube stations were used as air-raid shelters during the Second World War, but the Central Line was transformed into a fighter aircraft plant that stretched for over two miles, even having its own railway arrangement within.

The Tube may have protected many people in World War II, but it was not without its catastrophes. The worst death toll on the Tube happened at Bethnal Green tube station in 1943 when one hundred and seventy people died in a crush. A previous tragedy happened in 1940 when forty-one people were killed when a huge bomb burst a water main, causing those shielding in the Balham Tube Station to drown.

In World War II, Winston Churchill had his own top-secret station. Down Street was a functioning station between 1907 and 1932. And was transformed into a bomb-proof shelter. Originally on what was to become the Piccadilly Line, the station was between Dover Street (now Green Park) and Hyde Park Corner Tube stations.

When the war ended, the deep level shelter at Clapham South boarded four hundred and ninety-two immigrants from the West Indies who had arrived aboard the HMT Empire Windrush. When they landed, the Colonial Office didn’t have sufficient housing for them all, so they sheltered them in the shelter at Clapham South Station.

Each Tube train journeys an average of 115,500 miles a year or 4.6 times around the world. Every year, around 1.3 billion trips are made on the London Underground. The busiest station is Waterloo, which sees around 100.3 million travellers per year.

It is estimated that half a million mice live within the tunnels, but they’re not alone. The mosquitoes that live on the Tube are of an unusual and rather more malicious species than their above-ground relatives. Called Culex pipiens molestus, they’re known for their ravenous appetites.

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  1. Terry says:



  2. Martin Jones says:

    Very interesting thank you. I believe the busiest station is now Stratford


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