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London Underground Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here’s some background information about the London Underground, also known as “The Tube,” the oldest subway or metro transit system in the world.


There are currently 272 stations open and 249 miles (402 km) of active lines.

There are a number of old stations and tunnels that are now closed.

In the 2021/2022 year, there were 748 million passenger journeys.

The London Underground is patrolled by the British Transport Police (BTP).

Some stations are under the jurisdiction of the BTP and local police agencies.

Over 12,000 CCTV cameras are used to monitor the London Underground stations, depots, car parks and trains.


January 9, 1863 – The London Underground begins running on the Metropolitan Railway. Forty thousand passengers ride the Underground on the first day. This route is now served by the Circle Line and the Hammersmith & City Line.

1863 – Metropolitan Line opens (purple line on the map).

1864 – Hammersmith & City Line opens (pink line on the map).

1868 – District Line opens (green line on the map).

1869 – East London Line opens (orange line on the map).

1884 – Circle Line opens (yellow line on the map).

1890 – Northern Line opens (black line on the map).

1898 – Waterloo & City Line opens (teal on the map).

1900 – Central Line opens (red line on the map).

1906 – Bakerloo Line opens (brown line on the map). Piccadilly Line opens (dark blue on the map).

1911 – The first escalators are installed, at Earl’s Court station.

1913 – First appearance of the circle and horizontal bar symbol.

1929 – The last manually operated doors on tube trains are replaced by air-operated doors.

1969 – Victoria Line opens (light blue on the map).

1979 – Jubilee Line opens (silver line on the map).

November 18, 1987 – A fire at King’s Cross station is caused by a burning match falling onto a wooden-tread escalator panel. Thirty-one people die in the fire.

July 7, 2005 – Four suicide bombers detonate themselves aboard three Tube trains and a bus during morning rush hour, killing 52 people and injuring around 700.

July 21, 2005 – Four bombing incidents in London take place almost simultaneously, three on subway trains, one on a bus. Three small devices explode at three separate Underground subway stations, two weeks after the July 7 terror attacks. Small blasts occur at Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd’s Bush stations. Scotland Yard also responds to an “incident” on a bus at Hackney Road and Columbia Road in east London. There are no casualties.

2007- For the first time, the Tube carries one billion passengers in a year.

2013 – The 150th anniversary.

July 8, 2015 – A 24-hour strike begins 6 p.m. local time. The strike action is called after unions and the London Underground fail to agree on a pay deal over a new “Night Tube” service due to start in September.

February 23, 2016 – It is announced that Crossrail, a new rail line project, will be called the Elizabeth Line. The new line is scheduled to fully open in autumn 2019.

April 15, 2016 – Phil Sayer, known for the London Tube’s “mind the gap” and “stand clear of the doors” safety announcements, dies.

September 15, 2017 – A rush hour blast caused by an improvised explosive device on a London Underground train at Parsons Green station injures at least 30 people in what police call a terrorist incident.

May 12, 2021 – Safety testing begins on the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line trains. Project leaders expect the new line to begin running in early 2022, almost four years behind schedule.

May 17, 2022 – Queen Elizabeth II makes a surprise public appearance at the opening ceremony of the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line. The first stage opens to the public on May 24.

May 2023 – The Elizabeth Line fully opens.

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