The London Underground, also known as the “Tube,” is one of the most iconic and recognizable public transportation systems in the world. It is also one of the oldest, with the first underground railway in the world opening in 1863. But how was the London Underground built and how did it evolve into the complex network that it is today?
The first underground railway in London was built by the Metropolitan Railway Company in 1863, running between Paddington and Farringdon Street. This railway was built using the “cut-and-cover” method, which involved digging a trench, laying the tracks, and then covering the trench with a roof. This method was used because it was cheaper than building above-ground railways and also less disruptive to the surface streets.
The success of the Metropolitan Railway led to the creation of several other underground railway companies, each building their own lines and connecting to the existing network. However, these companies were all independent of one another, resulting in a confusing and disjointed system. In 1907, the London County Council (LCC) was formed to oversee the underground railway system and make it more efficient.
The LCC began to purchase and amalgamate the various underground railway companies, and by 1933, the entire underground railway system was under the control of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB). The LPTB embarked on a massive expansion and modernization program, building new lines, extending existing lines, and introducing new trains and signaling systems.
One of the most significant achievements of the LPTB was the construction of the deep-level tube lines. These lines were built using the “tube” method, which involved digging a tunnel deep underground and laying the tracks inside the tunnel. This method allowed for the construction of longer, straighter, and faster lines, and also eliminated the need for surface-level stations. The first deep-level tube line, the City and South London Railway, opened in 1890.
The London Underground also saw many technological advancements throughout its history, such as the introduction of electric trains in 1890 which replaced the steam trains. Also, the use of escalators was first introduced in 1911, which revolutionized the way people traveled in the underground.
In the post-World War II years, the London Underground underwent another major expansion and modernization program. New lines were built and existing lines were extended. The Victoria Line, which opened in 1969, was the first completely automated line on the London Underground, and it set the standard for future lines.
Today, the London Underground is one of the most extensive and efficient public transportation systems in the world, with 270 stations and over 400 kilometers of track. It is also one of the most heavily used, with over 5 million passenger journeys made on an average weekday.
In conclusion, the London Underground is one of the most iconic and recognizable public transportation systems in the world. It has a rich history and has undergone many changes and expansions since its first line opened in 1863. The London Underground is an essential part of life in London and continues to be an important means of transportation for locals and tourists alike. The complex network that it is today, is the result of the determination, hard work and technological advancements of the people who built it over the years.