LIFE ABROAD – PART IV: THE TUBE tunnels and thunders through
Posted on November 29th, 2012

Dr.Tilak Fernando

The London underground railway network (colloquially known as the “ƒ”¹…”Tube’) is 150 years old and serves a considerable part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex through tunnels as well as sub-surface covering 253 miles while transporting millions of passengers on a daily basis.

The whole network operates on eleven separate “ƒ”¹…”lines’ which are identified in the London Underground Map in conspicuous colours to help commuters easily identify and plan their travel. Inside the carriages of each “ƒ”¹…”tube’ train a single (coloured) line indicates all stations enroute from starting point to the terminus; inter-changes to other “ƒ”¹…”Lines’ are highlighted with an appropriate colour circle denoting junctions where accessibility is available to all other connections.

Bakerloo Line set off in 1906 appears on the “ƒ”¹…”tube map’ in colour Brown. It is a “ƒ”¹…”Deep Level’ underground system, covering 25 stations along 23.2 km (14.4 m) with seven carriages per train-set. About 302,869 passengers use the service daily during the week and 95.947 million per annum.

Underground tube train

The name Bakerloo has been adopted by the fact that its route serves Baker Street which is most famous for its connection to the imaginary detective Sherlock Holmes, who “ƒ”¹…”lives’ at a fictional 221B Baker Street address! It is the ninth busiest line on the network.

Northern Line (Deep level) commenced in 1890 is marked in Black colour and covers 50 stations over a distance of 58 km (36 miles) with six carriages per transit. It transports 660,395 commuters daily during the week and 206.734 million annually, making it the second busiest Line in the Underground System.

Piccadilly Line (Deep Level) which is over 100 years old is principally the legacy of one of the great pioneers of Tube railways, the American entrepreneur, Charles Tyson Yerkes. Inaugurated on 15 December 1906, today it is identified in Dark Blue colour on the underground map covering 53 stations over a length of 71 km (44 miles), with six carriages per transit.

This service has been extended up to Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 in 1977, Terminal 4 in 1986, and in March 2008 up to the new Heathrow Terminal 5. A special feature in this service is the allocation of space by the doors to accommodate luggage for airline passengers travelling to and from Heathrow Airport. Piccadilly Line transports 529,550 commuters daily during the week and 176.177 million annually.

Central Line (Deep Tube) launched in 1900 appears in Red and covers 49 stations along 74 kilometers (46m) with eight carriages per transit. Central Line is the longest and the busiest underground line. 589,734 passengers use the central line daily during the week and 183,512 million a year.

Circle Line, which is a Sub-Surface underground system opened in 1884 marked in Yellow covers 36 stations along 27 km (17m) with six cars per transit.

London underground railway ticket barriers

Circle Line is the seventh busiest line on the system carrying 218,136 per day during week and 64.485 million a year. As the name suggests, it performs a “ƒ”¹…”circular’ movement within the Central London area.

District Line (Sub-Surface Service) marked in colour Green came into effect in 1868. It covers 60 stations over a range of 64 km (40m) with six carriages per transit. The service covers Wimbledon which is renowned for the Annual Tennis tournament and transports 556,252 passengers per day during the week and 172.87million a year.

Jubilee line (Deep Level) opened in 1979 is identified in colour Grey and covers 27 stations over a length of 36.2 km ( 22.5 m) with seven carriages per transit.

Jubilee line too runs under the River Thames and is regarded as the third busiest on the network currently carrying 405,878 daily during the week 127.584 millions of passengers a year.

Metropolitan Line (Sub-Surface) opened in 1863 marked in colour Magenta covers 34 stations over a distance of 66.7 km (41.4 m), with eight carriages per transit. It is the tenth busiest line on the network where 186,271 passengers use daily during the week and 53.697 million a year.

Victoria line (Deep Level) opened in 1968 is marked in light Blue colour. It serves 16 stations covering 21 km (13 m) with eight carriages per train-set. It is the sixth most intensively used line on the underground network where 200 million passengers use the service each year; it is one of the three underground routes that passes under the River Thames

The line is equipped with an Automatic Train Operation (ATO) system; the train operator (driver) closes the train doors and presses a pair of ‘start’ buttons, and if the way ahead is clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station and stops automatically. This system has operated since the line opened in 1968, making the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

Hammersmith and City Line (Sub-Surface) system was formerly part of the Metropolitan line and incorporates the oldest underground railway in the world where the section between Paddington and Farringdon was opened on 10 January 1863. The Hammersmith and City line currently ranks 7th of 10 in terms of passenger numbers. In 1990 it was opened and branded as a separate line and given the colour Salmon Pink on the underground map. Service covers 29 stations, with seven carriages per train-set over 25.5 km (15.8 m) carrying 149,405 passengers daily on weekdays, 94,259 Saturdays, 53,289 Sundays and 45.845 million annually.

The Waterloo and City line (unofficially known as the “ƒ”¹…”Drain’) is a short underground railway line in London, opened on 11 July 1898. It has only two stations, Waterloo and Bank. It appears in colour Torques on the map and covers a distance of 2.37 km (1.47 m) with four carriages per train set carrying 37,173 per day, during week and 9.616 million per year. It is the least used line on the network .

London Transport has electronic ticket barriers where only a single person can go through after feeding the travel ticket through an access on the electronic gate where the ticket is absorbed, registered in the system and throws out simultaneously clearing the path for the user to go through.

A plastic smart card known as the Oyster card is widely used to help passengers move quickly rather than queuing up at ticket barriers. There are special yellow coloured electronic heads fixed on to ticket barriers in the underground as well as in the buses where passengers have only to touch the electronic yellow head with the card.

Oyster is the cheapest way to pay for single journeys on bus, Tube, tram, London over ground and most National Rail services in London. Oyster can store credit to pay as one goes, it is able to set up Auto-top up, so a user never runs out of credit; it adds Travel cards if they’re for longer than a day, Bus and Tram Passes and offers travel discounts to students and children with an Oyster photo card.

London Underground and London Transport issues daily travel cards in addition to the normal season tickets where travellers can purchase daily travel cards or bus passes for a day’s use some of which can be used in all London Transport Services, permitting inter-changes from bus to “ƒ”¹…”underground. Travel cards are valid till mild night on the day of purchase for travel. In addition, The London Transport issues special discounted fares to bona fide students holding official students cards.

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