On 10 January 1863, world’s first underground railway platform inaugurated between Paddington and Farringdon in which approximately 38.000 passengers travelled on the first day of steam locomotive train.
Moreover, operation of world’s first underground electric traction, train started under the City and South London Railway in 1890. At first underground tunnels were built by cut and cover method, but with the development of technology, circular tunnels were also built (since that London Underground is also named as the tube).
The rapid transit system serves a large proportion of London along with a few parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex. Altogether, railway track is 402 kilometres long with 270 stations on them, out of which 55 % of the track is on the ground, while remaining underground.
From 1933 to 1948 private companies administered the railway network, however, now London Underground Limited is a fully owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Thus, out of 270 stations 260 stations are under the ownership of Transport for London.
According to authorities, one billion passenger travelled by train in 2012, which is scattered on 11 network lines. Typically, in a number of countries, the operation of most nationalized organizations is at loss to cater the basic demands of civilians, but fortunately, the recovery of more than 90 % of the tube running cost is from fares alone. Therefore, it is a social welfare program along with financially self-containment.
Travel-card, ticket was introduced in 1983 and by 2003, electronic plastic card for ticketing was introduced named Oyster. By 2013, the 150th anniversary of successful running of the Tube was marked.
A few characteristics of the tube are such as
Train: Altogether, there are two types of trains’. Firstly Larger sub-surface (operating on the ground routes). Secondly smaller, deep-tube (operating underneath ground routes)
- Ventilation and cooling: In 1906, maximum temperature underground was 16 Celsius, but in 2006 report, it has reached up to 47 Celsius.
Furthermore, according to 2000, report air quality in underground tube is seventy three times lower. However, adoption of advance techniques such as ventilation fans, groundwater cooling system, and air-cooling units are assisting in tackling the issue up to some extent.
- Mobile signals and WI-FI: Previously access to 3G (mobile internet/data service provider) was not possible, but now virgin mobile subscribers have Wi-Fi facility available free of charge during a train journey. Still there is no solution to the mobile signal problem.
- Hours of operation: Typically, the train operates from 5:00am to 01:00am and periodic maintenance is done during closure, at night.
Although, some lines also operate on special event like New Year, additionally there is a plan to keep some lines operation 24 hours on the weekend by 2015.
Mind the Gap: At few stations, there can be a gap of 12 inches from train to the platform; nevertheless now step-free stations are growing rapidly. Currently there are 66 stations with step-free, which you may determine on the tube map.
Delays and overcrowding: Since 2004, there has been a rise in demand for trains, but Transport for London has not raised enough capacity to cater the demand. Consequently, there has been a rise in dissatisfaction, poor health, and wastage of time, though Transport for London makes a refund if delayed for more than 15 minutes.
Auspiciously, with essential steps from Transport for London complain for tube stations are diminishing.