Transformation of the Tube network continues apace during historic 150th year

Posted: 9 January 2013 | TfL | No comments yet

Passengers to see new trains, increased capacity, more frequent services, better accessibility and other improvements…

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Passengers to see new trains, increased capacity, more frequent services, better accessibility and other improvements.

  • A wide range of activities will celebrate the world’s first underground railway and its enduringly important role in London life and the UK economy

Today (9 January 2013) marks 150 years since the first Tube journey took place.

The stretch of line between Paddington and Farringdon, which was then the Metropolitan Railway, opened on 9 January 1863, with the first passenger journeys on the following day – making it the world’s very first underground railway.

A huge range of events and activities will be held this year to explore London Underground’s fascinating history and the vital role it continues to play – both in the lives of Londoners and to the economic life of London and the UK.

Record numbers of people

The Tube has always played an important role in the success of London – from the growth of the early network which led to the expansion of the suburbs in the last century, to the development of Canary Wharf’s financial powerhouse in the ’80s, and on to today’s system which successfully moved record numbers of people during the Queen’s Jubilee and London 2012 Games.

Over the next 20 years London’s population is expected to grow by well over a million people, underlining the crucial importance of continuing to improve and upgrade the Tube network.

A massive Tube upgrade programme, one of the largest and most complex engineering projects in the world, is now delivering huge tangible benefits for passengers.

Journeys on the Jubilee and Victoria lines have been improved through massively boosted capacity and faster journeys.

Air-conditioned trains

Stations like King’s Cross, Green Park and Blackfriars have been rebuilt.

A fleet of new air-conditioned trains has been introduced on the Metropolitan line, and over the next few years will be introduced to some two fifths of the Tube network.

Reliability on the Tube is now 40 per cent improved on 2007/08 levels and is the best in the network’s entire history.

Further improvements to come this year include higher frequency services on the Victoria and Central lines.

Higher-frequency services

By the end of next year, the Northern line upgrade will be completed, with higher-frequency services, and shortly afterwards key stations in central London such as Victoria and Tottenham Court Road will have been rebuilt.

The number of step-free stations is being expanded, alongside the use of ramps, platform humps and other accessibility improvements, an extension of the Northern line to Battersea is being planned, and Crossrail will be delivered – transforming travel across London.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‘The arrival of the Tube was truly revolutionary and today it is still admired around the world.

‘It annihilates distance, liquidates traffic and is the throbbing cardiovascular system of the greatest city on earth.

Victorian forefathers

‘It continues to play a hugely important role in the success of our Capital – efficiently moving record numbers of people during the London 2012 Games.

‘Our massive upgrade programme builds on the engineering ingenuity of our Victorian forefathers and through new signalling, trains and track, millions of Londoners and visitors will continue to benefit from what is arguably the best, and most iconic, underground transport system in the world.’

Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, said: ‘As we mark the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway we are also building for the future – transforming stations and replacing trains, signals and track.

‘Our passengers are already seeing the benefits, with more frequent and reliable services on the Jubilee and Victoria lines among many other improvements.

Sustained investment

‘This year will see even more – with a greater frequency of services on the Central and Victoria lines and more of the new air-conditioned trains, which will soon serve 40 per cent of the Tube network.

‘It is this sustained investment that will enable us to create a network able to support London’s growing population and maintain our city’s vital role in the UK economy for the next 150 years.’

A range of events will mark the enduing role of London Underground including:

  • The first Tube passenger journey will be recreated on Sunday 13 January 2013, with a series of specially restored trains including the Metropolitan Steam Locomotive No.1 and the Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage No 353 – the oldest operational underground carriage in existence – which is being restored with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund
  • A series of additional heritage rail trips, including the use of steam trains, which will enable many members of the public to experience the Tube’s rich heritage
  • The publication of a comprehensive new history of the Tube Underground, How the Tube shaped London, co-authored by Sam Mullins – Director of the London Transport Museum
  • Two new two-pound coins issued by the Royal Mint which will go into circulation in 2013 to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground
  • Royal Mail will also be issuing a set of ten special stamps, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground
  • The publication of 12 short stories by well-known authors, published by Penguin Books. The stories, one about each Tube line, look at the meaning of the Underground and the place it holds in the imagination of all those who live and visit the city
  • Poster Art 150: London’s greatest Designs – an exhibition at London Transport Museum in February focusing on the iconic poster art that has been a feature of London Underground for much of its history
  • Train wraps of Metropolitan line trains for customers to enjoy
  • A series of Poems on the Underground will celebrate 150 years of the Tube
  • A series of theatrical events at the disused Aldwych station
  • In 2013 Art on the Underground will present a programme that will include: a major commission by an acclaimed, high profile British artist bringing artworks into every station on the Tube network; a set of posters and limited edition prints by 15 leading contemporary artists; screenings of London Underground themed films at a Tube station from the BFI archive
  • Behind the Scenes events and Open Weekends at the Museum’s store at Acton

For more information visit

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