This January, the London Underground will mark a huge milestone – the iconic rapid transit system celebrates its 150th anniversary.
The first underground train pulled into Farringdon station on 9 January 1836. The train slowly made its way the 3 1/2 miles from Paddington station under the busy streets of London – the first of its kind in the world.
In its first six months, the London Underground saw more than 26,000 visitors, a huge amount for the time, and queues would regularly form as eager passengers lined up to give the famous underground trains a try.
Whether a London native or a casual visitor, the London Underground is the most efficient and cost effective way to get around the city – a feature that’s made it popular for more than 150 years.
The world’s oldest underground
Today the London Underground serves some 270 stations and stretches across more than 400 kilometres of track. We have created a Google map that highlights some of the main stations of the underground.
While it’s true that the London Underground is the oldest of its kind in the world – the first journey in 1836 made its way into the record books – today it is not the largest or even the most frequently travelled.
The metro systems in cities like Tokyo, Moscow and Paris are larger and clock up more than 2 billion passenger rides annually. In contrast, London’s Underground had just over 1.2 billion in 2012.
What’s in a name?
Officially titled the London Underground, London’s extensive subway system is affectionately called “the Tube” by locals and international visitors alike. But where does the name come from?
The Underground’s famous nickname actually comes from the unique shape of the tube-shaped tunnels and rounded trains, which is particularly pronounced from the platform. The name took off and it’s been known as the Tube ever since. We have collected some amazing images and stories about the tube in our underground bundlr.
The Underground today
Flash forward 150 years and the London Underground is still as important as ever. Some of London’s most popular attractions are within spitting’s distance from the tube and if you’re travelling for business or don’t know the city well, you can find hotels – for example the Comfort Inn Kings Cross – just around the corner from the Underground station that suits you best.
From its sticky hot carriages in the summer to its crammed platforms during rush hour – the good or the bad, London just wouldn’t be the same without the underground!