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Mayor of London

A brief history of the Underground

London Underground milestones

1843
Constructed by Sir Marc Brunel and his son Isambard, the Thames Tunnel opens

1863

On 10 January, The Metropolitan Railway opens the world's first underground railway, between Paddington (then called Bishop's Road) and Farringdon Street

1868

The first section of the Metropolitan District Railway, from South Kensington to Westminster (now part of the District and Circle lines), opens

1869

The first steam trains travel through the Brunels' Thames Tunnel

1880

Running from the Tower of London to Bermondsey, the first Tube tunnel opens

1884

The Circle line is completed

1890

On 18 December, The City and South London Railway opens the world's first deep-level electric railway. It runs from King William Street in the City of London, under the River Thames, to Stockwell

1900

The Prince of Wales opens the Central London Railway from Shepherd's Bush to Bank (the 'Twopenny Tube'). This is now part of the Central line

1902

The Underground Electric Railway Company of London (known as the Underground Group) is formed. By the start of WWI, mergers had brought all lines - except the Metropolitan line

1905

District and Circle lines become electrified

1906

Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (now part of the Bakerloo line) opens and runs from Baker Street to Kennington Road (now Lambeth North). Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (now part of the Piccadilly line) opens between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park

1907

Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (now part of the Northern line) opens and runs from Charing Cross to Golders Green and Highgate (now Archway). Albert Stanley (later Lord Ashfield) is appointed General Manager of the Underground Electric Railway Company of London Limited

1908

The name 'Underground' makes its first appearance in stations, and the first electric ticket-issuing machine is introduced. This year also sees the first appearance of the famous roundel symbol

1911

London's first escalators are installed at Earl's Court station

1929

The last manually-operated doors on Tube trains are replaced by air-operated doors

1933

  • The Underground Group and the Metropolitan Railway beomce part of the London Passenger Transport Board, taking control of all the Capital's railway, bus, tram, trolleybus and coach services
  • Harry Beck presents the first diagram of the Underground map

1940

Between September 1940 and May 1945, most Tube station platforms are used as air raid shelters. Some, like the Piccadilly line, Holborn - Aldwych branch, are closed to store British Museum treasures

1948

The London Passenger Transport Board was nationalised and now becomes the London Transport Executive

1952

The first aluminium train enters service on the District line

1961

Sees the end of the steam and electric locomotive haulage of London Transport passenger trains

1963

The London Transport Executive becomes the London Transport Board, reporting directly to the Minister of Transport

1969

The Queen opens the Victoria line

1970

The London Transport Executive takes over the Underground and the Greater London area bus network, reporting to Greater London Council

1971

  • The last steam shunting and freight locomotive is withdrawn from service
  • The Victoria line extends to Brixton

1975

A fatal accident on the Northern line at Moorgate kills 43 people. New safety measures were introduced

1977

The Queen opens Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1 2 3) on the Piccadilly line

1979

The Prince of Wales opens the Jubilee line

1980

A museum about the birthplace of modern urban transportation, called Brunel Engine House, opens to the public

1983

Dot matrix train destination indicators introduced on platforms.

1984

The Hammersmith & City and the Circle lines convert to one-person operation

1986

The Piccadilly line is extended to serve Heathrow Terminal 4

1987

A tragic fire at King's Cross station kills 31 people

1989

New safety and fire regulations are introduced following the Fennell Report into the King's Cross fire

1992

The London Underground Customer Charter is launched

1993

  • Reconstruction work on Angel station ended
  • Work started on the extended Jubilee line from Green Park to Stratford

1994

  • Penalty fares are introduced
  • London Underground takes over the Waterloo & City line and responsibility for the stations on the Wimbledon branch of the District line from Putney Bridge to Wimbledon Park
  • Aldwych station, and the Central line branch from Epping to Ongar closes

1999

  • London Underground is restructured in preparation for Public Private Partnership
  • The extended Jubilee line opens, offering through services from Stanmore to Stratford

2003

  • The Oyster card is introduced
  • Busking is legalised

2005

52 people are killed in bomb attacks on three Tube trains and a bus on 7 July

2007

  • The Tube carries one billion passengers in a year for the first time
  • 14 former Silverlink stations transfer to London Underground (LU)
  • The East London line closes for rebuilding and extension as part of new London Overground network

2008

  • Piccadilly line extension to Heathrow Terminal 5 opens
  • Metronet transfers to TfL control

2009

  • The Circle line changes shape
  • LU is named Best Metro Europe

2010

  • The Queen visits Aldgate station
  • LU achieves Carbon Trust Standard
  • The first air-conditioned, walk-through Underground train runs on the Metropolitan line
  • Through services replace the Chesham shuttle

2011

  • A full fleet of brand new Victoria Line trains become operational;
  • Green Park becomes the first step-free Circle line station