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London Underground Celebrates 160 Years

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Today (10 January) marks 160 years since the first Tube journey took place between Paddington and Farringdon stations, on what was then the Metropolitan Railway. To mark this milestone birthday, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan met with four London Underground staff members who have given a total of 160 years of service in a range of roles. 

The celebration took place at Baker Street station, one of the original stations that opened on 10 January 1863, and also saw the Mayor unveil a special 160th year roundel, Love the Tube, that customers will be able to spot at stations across the network including at Gloucester Road, Brixton, Oxford Circus and Covent Garden.  

“The Tube is a true London icon, connecting people across the capital and transporting tourists and commuters across the city,” said the Mayor. “On 10 January 1863, the world’s first underground railway opened and from that day forward the London Underground has been at the heart of the capital’s history, continuing to grow and evolve alongside the city it transports. I’m so proud of the history of our Tube and I’m determined that the London Underground will continue to deliver a world-leading service fit for the 21st century, and contribute to a better, safer and fairer city for all Londoners.”

Transport for London has announced that a series of activities will be held throughout 2023 to mark the 160th anniversary of the Tube.

A programme of activities will celebrate London Underground’s role as the lifeblood of the city, connecting Londoners with work and leisure opportunities for the past 160 years. Activities will be themed around the Tube’s innovation, its contribution to improving the environment, how the Tube connects people and places, how it supports diversity and inclusion, and its unique and world-renowned architecture and design.

First up will be a self-guided treasure hunt across all of the original Metropolitan Railway stations on 21 January, including Farringdon, Baker Street and Paddington, encouraging participants to see these historic stations in a new light. Further details can be found here: tfl.gov.uk/Tube160  

The London Transport Museum will be supporting the celebration of the Tube with activities throughout the year, highlighting the heritage and innovation of the world’s most iconic underground railway. This will be alongside the museum’s permanent exhibitions, which encourage visitors to explore the Tube’s origins as the world’s first subterranean railway.

The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Commissioner meet long-serving members of staff whose total service adds up to 160 years.

Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “A milestone birthday gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the historical significance of the Tube and how it has expanded and improved to meet the needs of an ever-changing world city. During this time the Tube has breathed new life into unconnected parts of London and been the catalyst to many local economies. It also gives us the opportunity to look forward to the next raft of improvements and to continue planning to ensure that the Tube serves our city ably and efficiently for the next 160 years.”  

A range of further improvements to the London Underground network are on their way including new trains to replace the ageing Piccadilly line fleet and new signalling on the District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines as part of the Four Lines Modernisation programme (and following the completion of new signalling on the Circle line last year).

The project to modernise and expand Bank station is also nearing completion, transforming customer journeys at the heart of the city. Further significant improvements will also be delivered on the Elizabeth line – the evolution of the Tube network – with an increase in frequency and through-running to more destinations introduced later this year. 

Image credit: Transport for London

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