Friday 1 July 2022


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rail unveiled

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London Underground

London Underground is publicly-owned, and is a subsidiary company of Transport for London.

It carries almost as many passengers annually on its 400km network as the 15,000km+ of National Rail.

London Underground is the oldest metro in the world.

London Underground is the oldest metro in the world.

It consists of two networks: the subsurface lines such as the District and Metropolitan and the tubes, which include the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines. (The whole system is often known as The Tube, but this is strictly incorrect, as lines like the District are not tube railways, having been built in shallow masonry tunnels.)

A major programme of modernisation has been under way since the turn of the century, and this includes the replacement of most of the fleet, new signalling on several lines including the subsurface network, and improvements to many stations.

The system is electrified at a nominal 650V DC, using two conductor rails to overcome the electrical problems which can occur when the running rails are used as an electrical return (common practice on other railways using a conductor rail) in metal tunnels.

Fares are based on zones, rather than exact distances travelled, and Transport for London discourages payments in cash, by making cash fares considerably more expensive than those charged on the TfL Oyster smartcard or a contactless bank card. TfL says only 3% of all Underground journeys are paid for in cash, and has closed nearly all station ticket offices because very few passengers had been using them.

Recent changes to the extent of the system have included the transfer of the East London line to London Overground (a separate TfL network run via a concession). Two short extensions are to be built. One is a new branch of the Northern line from Kennington to Battersea, and the other is a diversion of a branch of the Metropolitan line from its Watford terminus, which is outside the town centre, to the more central interchange at Watford Junction, mostly using the alignment of a former railway.

A longer-term plan, which has yet to be confirmed, may see the Bakerloo line being re-extended north of Harrow & Wealdstone to Watford Junction, restoring a former section.

The new Elizabeth line, known during the construction stage as Crossrail, is due to open in 2018-19. Although similar, it is not considered to be part of the traditional Underground and will be worked via a concession.

are the railways really privatised?


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