Zyra //// London //// Interesting stuff Underground //// Underground Railways //// Site Index
The London Underground System is an underground train network for getting from place to place in London. Although such urban subway infrastructures exist in many major cities in the world, the one in London is the oldest and largest. Of course they are electric trains, but amazingly the London Underground was started in the age of steam.
Getting around in London is difficult by car, because of the traffic, congestion, and parking problems. Buses and taxis do their best, but they have to compete with the traffic. Walking from place to place is good for short distances, but the city is far too big to walk across. However, the Underground provides a relatively easy method of getting from just about anywhere in London to anywhere else in London. You're never far from a Tube Station, and then it's just a matter of navigating by logical thought, and emerging at the right station, which is within a sensible walking distance of your destination.
Famously, the map of the London Underground is drawn like a circuit diagram, representing logical routes rather than geo-spacial locations. It's allegorical to the way Doctor Who gets around, without having to worry about all the stuff inbetween places.
The London Underground is known as "The Tube" because of the underground architectural feature that the tunnels and stations have a round cross-section as they are cut using a Greathead machine.
As well as being a practical way of getting around, the London Underground has memorable iconic cultural status. You may be interested to know that you can get a map of the London Underground System as a (framed?) wall poster from AllPosters and probably other Poster Shops. British expats may find this especially of interest. Also see London Souvenir Shop
The main official website of the London Underground is www.tfl.gov.uk (Transport for London), which is also related to London Transport.co.uk , and The Tube.com. There are plenty of other websites about the London Underground, often going into great detail about the history, culture, and folklore. There are "ghost stations" and other intriguing features. Here are a few useful resources:
www.tfl.gov.uk - official
Famous London Underground "Tube Map" available from www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/standard-tube-map.pdf
Underground-History.co.uk - plenty of
amazing "Did You Know?"
(was http://www.starfury.demon.co.uk/uground/index.html )
London Underground Railway Society - keen enthusiasts
If you're wondering what the opening hours are, check on Wikipedia. It's not a 24-hour system, as there's maintenance done during about three hours of the night, possibly around 1:30am to 4:30am ? So, open most of the time. The closing times can occasionally be a problem, for example when trying to get around between the terminals of London Heathrow Airport at night to catch your flight.
The train fares are relatively inexpensive, but it's possible to get an even better deal by getting an all day ticket, providing unlimited travel anywhere on that day (cheaper after 9:30am).
Another option is to have an Oyster Card. London Underground have come to a special arrangement with Barclays Bank so you can now get an Oyster Card that's also a Barclaycard
Tube Train rolling stock is continually being replaced, so every now and then a new underground train is wheeled in and one of the oldest ones taken away. Sadly the old trains are scrapped, so I heard in 2012. Now surely there MUST be some collectors of vintage trains who would love to buy one. The Channel Island of Alderney has one, you know. Still rolling after all these years.
The expression "Mind the Gap!" is a London Underground catchphrase, announced as a public-spirited safety warning, to remind passengers to be careful of any mismatches between the position of the platform and the floor of the train.