The Tube in London

The Tube in London

6th October 2018 0 By livinguktaiwan

A while ago, I did a post on the urban landscape of London called A Different London.  Today I want to talk a bit about the London underground.  Hopefully visitors going to London will find this interesting read.  If you are going to travel on the underground in London,  I gurantee you will be looking at this map numerous times every day.  You’re going to need this to help you navigate around the complex tube system.

上星期寫了一篇不一樣的倫敦。今天想跟大家分享倫敦的地下鐵網絡。 相信到倫敦的遊客,一定會對這張地下鐵圖很熟識。倫敦是繼上海及北京後,是全世界第三大的地下鐵路網絡。 它一共有 11條線路,270個車站。對遊客來講,沒有這張地圖真的可能有點不方便。 倫敦地下鐵從1890年開始運作,是全世界最老的地下鐵網絡。亦因此,有很多車站都非常有特色。 古舊的地下鐵網絡唯一的弊處就是沒有電訊訊號。其實這也未嘗不好,有時離開手機一陣子也是好事。

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The Tube? I hear you say.  Yes, you heard right.  That’s what we call it.  The Tube is the nickname for the underground due to the shape of the tunnels.   The Tube is the third largest underground network in the world in terms of track length, after Shanghai and Beijing both in China.  What we lack in terms of (track) length, we make up with age and character.


The Tube first started in 1890 (it’s old!!) and and is the oldest underground network in the world.  This is another demonstration of the great British industrial revolution from the Victoria era. The tube network has 11 lines and 270 stations.  Many of the stations are so old that nearly one quarter of them (70 to be precise) are listed as historical buildings in one way or other.  Some, such as this one, Strand Station has even closed down in the sixties due to low usage.


The tube is old, that you can’t use your mobile phone inside.  Perhaps that’s not a bad thing to get away from your mobile sometime.  It only offers limited 24 hour service, and that’s not because it’s old.   The RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) are very powerful, way too powerful in my opinion.  They can pretty much hold the entire London transport system commuters to ransom by their often unreasonable demands. If they don’t want to work more hours, or if you’re not willing to pay them their ask, then London can forget about decent 24 hour service.    So don’t start me on that.  I can write a whole post about it, and I imagine many who work in London will feel the same.



Anyway, back to the stations. They’re old, but they have bag fulls of characters.  The iconic tube logo, called the roundel, is instantly recognisable.  You will see it all over the network, from the moment before you enter the station to when you are actually on the tube.  Some stations even have their own motif on the tile walls on the platform.


The other thing I love about the Tube are the down to earth, creative posters.  Parts of London may not be that safe particularly at night time.  But that’s no different from any other major cities such as New York or Paris.  So I wouldn’t be too worried,  having common sense will suffice.


Now you’re probably starting to wonder what this is all about.  First the tube, now the oyster?  The oyster is actually a card, our contactless card that can be used across the London transport network.  Using the Oyster is cheaper than buying a daily ticket from the station everyday, so if you’re visiting London,  don’t forget to get your own.