Our final installment of interesting and quirky facts features how the Underground was funded and how London’s most important mode of transportation received its nicknames.


london-underground-tours-tube<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Photo Credit: moonShadows7 on Flickr</figcaption></figure>

  1. The first Tube trip took place on 9 January 1863.

  2. The London Underground wasn’t originally a planned network. It began in 1863 as one privately owned line. Several other lines were set up and run by other independent companies, but they weren’t integrated until 1933.

  3. The Maida Vale station was originally staffed entirely by women when it opened on June 6th 1915.

  4. The Underground Sans font, still used in a modified form for all the Tube’s posters and designs, was created by Edward Johnston in 1916.

  5. In the 90s, due to a boom in graffiti, the “silver” tube trains were replaced with the red, white and blue painted ones still seen today.

  6. On average, the London Underground carries 1.107 billion passengers every year.

  7. However, during 2011/12, London Underground carried a record number of passengers, with 1.171 billion journeys made. That is 64 million more than in 2010/11.

  8. In central London, trains cannot drive faster than 30-40 mph because of the short distances between stations. Due to the increase in distance between stations, the Victoria line can reach speeds of up to 50 mph. However, the Metropolitan line has the fastest train speeds, sometimes reaching over 60 mph.

  9. The average Londoner spends 11.5 days each year on the Underground, with 5.2 of those days in the underground tunnels.

  10. According to The Guardian, the chances of being involved in a fatal accident on the Tube are 1 in 300 million.

  11. 30 percent of passengers take longer routes as London’s famous Tube map misrepresents distances between stations.

  12. Many Tube stations were used as air-raid shelters during WWII, but the Central Line went one better and was actually converted into a massive aircraft factory with its own railway system. Its existence remained an official secret until the 1980s.

  13. Until the 1960s, each new development of the London Underground meant a new diagram had to be entirely drawn and lettered by hand for an artwork 10 times the size of the pocket map.

  14. The Underground name first appeared on stations in 1908.

  15. The network became known as the Tube in the early part of the twentieth century. This is an abbreviation of the nickname ‘The Twopenny Tube’ which was given to the Central Line because all fares cost tuppence. You can measure how far two pence would get you now in millimetres.

  16. People were smaller when the carriages were built in the 1860’s – which is one of the reasons why you’ll find your journey so uncomfortable today.

  17. Angel has Western Europe’s longest escalator with 318 steps in total.

  18. There are 270 stations in total, but just 29 are south of the River Thames.

  19. Hopkins Architects designed Westminster station to look like the inside of a clock which would be appropriate given that the station is next to ‘Big Ben’.

  20. The tube route from Leicester Square to Covent Garden is the most popular tube route for tourists despite the fact that it is actually quicker to cover this distance on foot.


We hope you enjoyed reading about London’s most interesting form of transportation!