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Revision as of 12:31, 21 June 2017

The London Underground

by Trinity Tedtsen

The London Underground: A Timeline
Milestone Image
Photographer Trinity Tedtsen


The objective of this project was to answer; How has the expansion of the population of London contributed to the expansion of the tube? and How can new lines help decrease congestion? Information on the development of the Underground and theories of its expansion are included in the background. The deliverable focuses on potential lines for decreasing congestion. It is clear from this project that the Underground cannot expand much more in the center of the city, but new boroughs could pop up due to increased populations. My previous humanities experience involves twentieth-century American foreign relations, history of the life science, and a background in writing.


I suggest you save this section for last. Describe the essence of this project. Cover what the project is and who cares in the first two sentences. Then cover what others have done like it, how your project is different. Discuss the extent to which your strategy for completing this project was new to you, or an extension of previous HUA experiences.

As you continue to think about your project milestones, reread the "Goals" narrative on defining project milestones from the HU2900 syllabus. Remember: the idea is to have equip your milestone with a really solid background and then some sort of "thing that you do". You'll need to add in some narrative to describe why you did the "thing that you did", which you'd probably want to do anyway. You can make it easy for your advisors to give you a high grade by ensuring that your project milestone work reflects careful, considerate, and comprehensive thought and effort in terms of your background review, and insightful, cumulative, and methodical approaches toward the creative components of your project milestone deliverables.


Now you're on your own! Your milestone must include a thorough and detailed background section with detailed subsections; if additional articles are required to be referenced in this background section, create those as well and link to them (the creation of all pages is tracked by the wiki site and attributed to your username). Remember to use rich multimedia whenever possible. Consult the Help page as needed! Remember, if you don't see an article on this site that is an integral part of your project, create it! Your entire page-creating/page-editing history factors into your overall grade.

The Reasoning Behind the Railway

London is well known for its blue and red Tube signs. Tourists buy water bottles, socks, t-shirts, and much more covered with the Underground map or signs. The production of this vital part of the city began over 150 years ago. A majority of the railway built between 1863 and 1913 was in the central part of the city[1]. It wasn't until later, when the city was becoming too cramped, that the lines expanded to the suburbs. It has been debated if the development of these new Tube lines fostered the suburbs, or if the expansion of the city's population to the suburbs had fostered the expansion of the Tube[2].

Different lines have had different reasoning for being built. It was rumored the Bakerloo line was built because a group of businessmen had no easy way to get to work in a city full of taxis, buses, and cars[1]. Of course, this group must have been larger than just a group of work buddies considering about 36,000 people rode the Bakerloo line the day it opened[1]. The Circle line was clearly built for transport within the city center. A person could get fairly near to any place in London by taking the Circle line. The Metropolitan Railway, now part of multiple Underground lines, was greatly extended to suburban areas in the northwest of London in the 20th century. Since the Underground was still owned by multiple private companies, this was a huge marketing opportunity. Metropolitan Railway promoted dream homes in the countryside and their high-speed rail services that could get people there[3]. This again raises the question of co-development; does the growth of the suburbs promote Tube expansion, or does Tube expansion promote the growth of the suburbs?

Most construction of the Underground after the 1920s were extensions. The first new line across London for 60 years was the Victoria line in 1968, followed by the Jubilee line in 1979[1]. This is in part due to the sizable commitment such a line entails. The Tube lines that cross the city have all take over 20 years to complete start to finish, making extensions seem like a much more feasible option. The Victoria line was built to relieve congestion, specifically on the Piccadilly and Northern lines, by connecting the main line stations Euston, Kings Cross St. Pancras, and Victoria [1]. The Jubilee line was built much for the same purpose. It has connected new tunnels across London between Baker Street and Charing Cross. This line's opening and extension has greatly facilitated London's Docklands as a center for business, leisure, and residential activity [1].

The Theory of Co-Development

Metropolitan Railway used a massive marketing campaign to increase use of their trains and the population of the suburb area deemed "Metroland", the northwest area of London including Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Middlesex[3] . This supports the theory of co-development, a theory that the Tube has fostered suburban growth as well as been expanded due to suburban growth. This is in part due to people's hesitation to commit to commuting by moving out of the city. An article in the Journal of Economic Geography found "rail is a precursor to population growth and that population growth is a precursor to rail deployment" in suburban areas on the outskirts of the city [2]. This indicates there is a cycle present, train expansion has increased suburban populations, which has, in turn, increased train expansion. This cycle has been the vital part of the Underground influencing the evolution of London's population.

As apparent as this theory is in the suburban areas, the city center seems to be the opposite[2]. These rails that have been moving people to the suburbs have been the same ones moving people away from the city. London has become an area with "low-residential and very high-commercial densities" indicating depopulation of the city center began with overground services and accelerated with the production of the Underground[2]. This could be due to the Underground being able to get into the city center in a way that overground services could never achieve. Increased transportation to the center of London seems to have increased the desire to live outside of the city center. Think about this, if you worked in the center of London would you want to drive from the suburbs through city traffic every day? No. With increased railway transportation as close as the street you work on, why continue to pay the price of city living if it is cheaper to move? Tube expansion facilitated this move.

It can be seen now, Tube expansion is not simply facilitated by congestion due to increased population. Expanding to the suburbs wouldn't entirely solve this problem. If there are too many people, you need more trains. If people are farther away, you need more tracks. These decisions are highly influenced by each other, however. Induced supply and induced demand are supported by research done by David Levinson, showing the clear correlation of Tube expansion of population relocation[2].

Building the London Underground: A Timeline

  • 1855- A test tunnel is built in Kibblesworth to test the feasibility of the idea of trains underground. It is later filled.
  • 1863 - The Metropolitan Railway runs between Paddington and Farringdon Street- present day Metropolitan line.
  • 1864 - Services to Addison Road (now Kensington Olympia), via the curve at Latimer Road, begin on the Metropolitan Railway, now the Hammersmith & City line. The railway extends to Hammersmith.
  • 1868 - The District Railway opens between South Kensington and Westminster.
  • 1868 -The Metropolitan Railway extends to South Kensington (Circle Line).
  • 1868 - The Metropolitan line extends from Baker Street to Swiss Cottage.
  • 1869 - New tracks open on the District line between Gloucester Road and West Brompton.
  • 1869 - A new London and South Western line opens between north of Addison Road and Richmond. The new Hammersmith station means the old terminus is re-sited.
  • 1874 - The District line extends to Hammersmith, Richmond in 1877 and Ealing Broadway in 1879.
  • 1884 - The inner circle line is completed by linking the Metropolitan and District lines at both ends (becomes part of the Circle Line).
  • 1884 - The District line extends to Mark Lane (now Tower Hill) and Hounslow.
  • 1884 - The Metropolitan Railway extends east to Whitechapel, now part of the Hammersmith & City line.
  • 1885 - The two-year-old Ealing to Windsor service ends on the District line.
  • 1890- City & South London Railway between Stockwell and King William opens, this will become part of the Northern line. The Underground first became known as “the Tube”.
  • 1892 - The Metropolitan line is extended to Aylesbury.
  • 1898 - The Waterloo & City line became London’s second, deep-level Tube railway.
  • 1904 - The Uxbridge branch of the metropolitan line is opened.
  • 1905- The Circle and District lines and part of the Metropolitan line become electrified.
  • 1906 - Now part of the Bakerloo line, The Baker Street & Waterloo Railway opens between Baker Street and Elephant & Castle.
  • 1906 - What will become the Hammersmith & City line is electrified.
  • 1906 - The Piccadilly line opens between Finsbury Park an Hammersmith.
  • 1907- The Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead- known as the Hampstead Tube- opens between the Strand to Golders Green, with a branch between Cmaden Town and Highgate. This will become part of the Northern line.
  • 1907 - A branch on the Piccadilly line opens from Holborn to Aldwych.
  • 1908 - The Central line extends west to Wood Lane to support the While City Exhibition.
  • 1910 - The District line extends to Uxbridge.
  • 1912 - The Central Line extends east from Bank to Liverpool Street.
  • 1915 - The Bakerloo line is extended from Baker Street to Queen’s Park. Women are employed by UERL and the Metropolitan Railway as “wartime substitutes” for previously male positions during the First World War.
  • 1920 - The Central line extends west to Ealing Broadway.
  • 1921- Hampstead Railway- the Northern line- extends to Edgware.
  • 1922- City & South London Railway links to the Hampstead line at Camden town, extends south to Morden and Kennington (1926), and officially becomes known as the Northern line (1933).
  • 1925 - The Watford branch of the Metropolitan line opens.
  • 1932 - Another branch of the Metropolitan line to Stanmore opens.
  • 1932-3 - The Piccadilly line extends south to South Harrow, Arnos Grove, Hounslow West, Uxbridge, and Cockfosters.
  • 1936 - The “Circle Line” name appears on a poster for the first time.
  • 1936 - Trains are extended over the former District Railway line to Barking (Hammersmith & City).
  • 1939 - The Bakerloo Line takes over the Stanmore branch of the Metropolitan line.
  • 1939-41- The new Northern line extends between Archway and East Finchley, High barnet and Mill Hill East.
  • 1940 - Following bomb damage, the service to Addison Road is suspended and doesn’t restart after the war (Hammersmith & City).
  • 1945 - After the war, new tracks next to the main line railway start to be used. They run from North Acton to West Ruislip and include new tunnels from Liverpool Street to Leyton.
  • 1945 - The Waterloo & City line became part of British Railways.
  • 1949 - The Circle Line gets its own line on the Tube map.
  • 1961 - The Metropolitan line is electrified to Amersham and Chesham. Services beyond Amersham are taken over by British Rail (now Chiltern Railways).
  • 1968-9 - The Victoria Line opens between Walthamstow Central and Victoria. This is the first computer-controlled underground railway, utilizing automatic trains and ticket gates.
  • 1971 - The Victoria line was completed with the opening of Brixton station.
  • 1975- The tunneled link between Finsbury Park and Moorgate on the Northern line is transferred to British Rail (now First Capital Connect).
  • 1977 - Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, and 3 open on the Piccadilly line.
  • 1979 - The first stage of the Jubilee line opens between Charing Cross and Baker Street.
  • 1979 - The Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo line closes.
  • 1986 - The Heathrow service on the Piccadilly line becomes a loop with the opening of Terminal 4.
  • 1988 - The Hammersmith & City line is officially named Hammersmith & City.
  • 1989 - Services between Queen’s Park and Harrow & Wealdstone restart on the Bakerloo line.
  • 1993- Angel station work is completed for the Northern Line.
  • 1994 - The Epping to Ongar shuttle service closes due to low passenger numbers (Central Line).
  • 1994 - The Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line closes down because of too few passengers and high costs.
  • 1994 - The Waterloo & City line transferred to London Underground.
  • 1999 - The Jubilee line is extended from Green Park to Stratford.
  • 2009 - The Circle line is broken and replaced by an end-to-end service.
  • 2008 - Heathrow Terminal 5 opens on the Piccadilly line.
  • 2012 - The original 1968 Victoria line received a complete upgrade.
  • 2012 - A new fleet of electric trains are introduced on the Metropolitan line. They are the first on the Underground to feature air conditioning and full-length, walk through interiors.


Timeline Key

  • Italics - Relating to more than one line or no line specifically
  • Maroon - Relating specifically to the Metropolitan line
  • Pink - Relating specifically to the Hammersmith & City line
  • Green - Relating specifically to the District line
  • Yellow - Relating specifically to the Circle line
  • Bold- Relating specifically to the Northern line
  • Light teal - Relating speciffically to the Waterloo & City line
  • Brown - Relating specifically to the Bakerloo line
  • Navy - Relating specifically to the Picadilly line
  • Red - Relating specifically to the Central line
  • Light Blue - Relating specifically to the Victoria line
  • Gray - Relating specifically to the Jubilee line

The Elizabeth Line

The Elizabeth line is a current project of Transport for London. The new railway will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, stretching over 60 miles. The Elizabeth Line is facilitating improvement to the accessibility of London transport. The line will stop at 40 accessible stations, 10 new and 30 upgraded stations[4]. All newly-built stations will have marked routes, step-free access, and straightforward signs and information. All Elizabeth line stations will be step-free from street to platform, with level access from the platform to trains at all of the new central London stations and at Heathrow and Abbey Wood[4]. The line is also boosting the UK economy by billions of pounds, supporting new jobs and the creation of several thousand new homes[4].

New trains will be gradually introduced on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield route beginning in June 2017 with the older trains staying in service until 2019, with a majority of new trains[4]. The Heathrow to Paddington service will be run with 9-carriage, 200 meter-long trains able to carry up to 1,500 passengers[4]. By December 2019, a fleet of 66 new trains will operate on the completed Elizabeth line making it quicker and easier for customers to get on and off the train and intelligent lighting and temperature control on driver-operated trains will use up to 30% less energy[4]. These new trains are helping to support 760 UK jobs and 80 apprenticeships in Derby[4].


Potential Tube Lines

Tourist Line

This line includes stops near the biggest tourist sites in London. This includes the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London Science Museum, Imperial War Museum, the Wallace Collection, Shakespear's Globe Theater, Tate Modern, and Tate Britain. The stations it will stop at include Tower Hill, St. Paul's, Westminster, Russel Square, South Kensington, Lambeth North, Bond Street, Southwark, and Pimlico. This is the breakdown of the stations:

A line specifically labeled for tourists would hopefully decrease congestion on the other lines, resulting in an easier trip to work for Londoners. The line would also make it easier for tourists to get around the city, possibly increasing their use of the Underground creating revenue for TfL.

Short Line

This line would be for the sole purpose of directly connecting King's Cross St. Pancras, Waterloo, Victoria, and Oxford Circus. Thes are some of the busiest stations on the Underground and connecting them would decrease congestion on other lines including the Picadilly line, the Victoria line, and the Central line.


This project focused on determining the key factors that went into building the world's first underground railway and how that railway has expanded and adapted to account for the increased population of the city of London. The complete timeline of the creation of the Tube showed how much population, technology, and use have affected the production and development of new tube lines. It would be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison of population growth and tube development to further study the theory of co-development.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 [1], London Underground. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2017, from Transport for London website
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 [2], Levinson, D. (2008). Density and dispersion: the co-development of land use and rail in London. Journal of Economic Geography, 8(1).
  3. 3.0 3.1 [3], Mullins, S. (2013). The London Underground and the London Transport Museum. The London Journal, 38(3).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 [4], Elizabeth Line. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2017, from Transport for London website.

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