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Happy Birthday Tube

  • January 19th, 2013
  • Posted by EUEditor

london-undergroundsvg.pngThe London Underground has been marking its 150th anniversary this month, as the original urban commuter service under ground, and still the third-busiest in terms of passenger volume.

Setting out on 10.1.1863, it began with squat tank steam locomotives, releasing steam back into their water tanks, and burning coke instead of coal to reduce the output of soot.

The system, called the “Tube” by its users, went to electricity in  1890.

Commuters can now, unwittingly travel segments of the original journey, as it is divided up, forming parts of the Circle, Hammersmith, and Metropolitan lines.

The new service which was a hit with suburban travellers in the congested, horse-drawn London of its time, has remained a vital artery, last year carrying 1.2- billion passengers.

High points over time included the 2012 London Olympics, with the system done up in pink directions signs for the visitors; (much getting-out of phrase-books to probe the “minding” of a “gap”).

In tougher times: the use of the Underground stations as bomb shelters during the Blitz; the tragedy of a terrorist bomb attack in 2005, killing 52 plus the four assailants; and the near-bankrupting of the system during the 1930s Great Economic Depression, when the separate commercial lines were amalgamated as a public enterprise.

Among the great metro systems that followed around the globe, Moscow, launched in 1935, is rated the busiest, having served nobly during the decades when very few people could get a car; and then the beloved Metro of Paris, opened in 1900, celebrated for its convenient short-segments and art-nouveau livery.

paris-metro-sign.jpg All have made crucial contributions to managing the environmental and energy crises of the present era, the trains bearing huge numbers, scooting along underneath lines of belching, bottle-necked road vehicles.

Statistics: London, 402 kilometres, 270 stations; Moscow 313 Km and 188 stations; Paris 214 km, 301 stations.


London Underground (home), London.,(19.1.13).

Pictures   wikipedia