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- Posted:Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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Happy Birthday London Underground
The lifeline of one of Europe’s biggest and most popular cities turns 150 years old today, and all over the world people are tipping their hat in salute (including today’s Google Doodle) to the transport hub that carries tens of thousands of locals and tourists around the English capital daily. The Tube is synonymous with London and many visitors to the city see it both as a means of transport as well as a tourist attraction. For residents in the English capital city it is their sacred means of getting to and from work, and everywhere else in between, and recent snowstorms have proven that when the Underground stops working, so too does most of the city.
When the doors of the first tube opened in 1863, it ran for just six kilometres from Paddington to Farringdon. However, today at 150 years old, the network covers 408 kilometres, with 11 lines running through 270 stations. It’s also the second longest transport system in the world.
Throughout the years the London Underground has featured in countless movies and TV shows, from life changing roles in ‘Sliding Doors’, to adrenaline pumping action scenes in countless James Bond movies. And the Underground symbols themselves of the red circle with a bar through it, have become iconic symbols of London on many t-shirts and souvenirs.
The Tube carries tens of thousands of people daily, but it recently saw its busiest day on Aug 3, 2012 where 4.4 million people took the tube... yes, 4.4 million! It was in the midst of the London Olympics however where the Underground played a crucial part in the smooth running of the Games.
There is also an unwritten etiquette when it comes to travelling on the Underground, so much so that the latest ‘craze’ in Underground Stations and carriages is seeing tongue-in-cheek signs of how passengers should behave (see picture below and more here).
But after many visits to London and using the Underground, here are just a few things we’ve learned...
- Mind the Gap! Yes, it’s said and written a lot around stations, but for a reason. And it’s also worth being wary of this in regards to your personal belongings – a large amount of keys and phones now belong to the ‘Gap’!
- Buy an Oyster Card for a smooth pass through stations and so you’re not always worrying about having change for a ticket.
- Stick to the right side if you’re standing still on the escalators in Tube Stations, otherwise you’ll be shouted at and pushed by those in a hurry to pass.
- Don’t talk to strangers... a majority of people on the Tube really do want to talk to anyone they don’t know.
Images of spoof signs can be found here