January 10 saw the 150th anniversary of the opening to the public of the first section on what was to become known as ‘The London Underground.’ Operating as the Metropolitan Railway the line ran from Paddington to Farringdon Street via King’s Cross. From this humble beginning the network also known as ‘The Tube’ has grown into the network that we all know and sometimes love.
I would say that the Underground is the lungs of London. It allows the city to breathe and function as the global capital city. The Underground model has now been copied by other major cities around the world. Nearly all capital cities in the developed world has some sort of underground rail network.
Throughout its history the London Underground has been the scene of some of the major events in London’s history. During both world wars tube stations were used to shelter the public from the bombing that rained down on the city. It has also been the scene of several tragedies. The two that come to mind are firstly the King’s Cross fire in 1987. The fire was ignited by a discarded cigarette under the wooden escalator. This led to the death of 31 people. The other one was the 7/7 bombings in 2005. Suicide bombers detonated three bombs on the network. The first one happened between Liverpool Street and Aldgate on the Circle line. The second explosion happened again on the Circle line between Edgware Road and Paddington. The third device was detonated on the Piccadilly line between King’s Cross-St. Pancras and Russell Square. 39 of the 52 victims were killed in these explosions.
There are advantages and disadvantages of using the London Underground. The advantages are that it is a fast method of travelling across London. It is also an efficient way of transporting passengers. As the rolling stock is electrically operated it is also a green option. Imagine the number of people who would be travelling by cars if there were no underground service. Of course there are disadvantages. During peak times the trains always become overcrowded. Also during the summer the lack of air conditioning can make if feel too hot during the summer. You also need to keep your wits about you as crowded trains attract pickpockets.
Having said that I enjoy travelling on the Underground. It gets me across London quickly. With an Oyster card it can be cheap. Sharing a train with visitors from around the world I feel that I am part of the global village. In short I love it and I wish it another 150 years service.
Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy, keep smiling and mind the gap.