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The original Metropolitan Railway opened in 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon.
Five years later, in 1868, the St John's Wood Railway Company opened a line from Baker Street to Swiss Cottage.
That Company had amalgamated with the Metropolitan by 1879, when the line was extended to Willesden Green. The next extensions were to Harrow-on-the-Hill in 1880, Pinner in 1885, Rickmansworth in 1887 and Chesham in 1889. Finally, in 1892, the main line reached Aylesbury.
In 1904, the branch from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Uxbridge opened but another 21 years elapsed before the Metropolitan expanded its system further, with an extension from Moor Park via Croxley to Watford.
In 1932, the Metropolitan opened yet another new branch, from Wembley Park to Stanmore (although after only seven years this became part of the Bakerloo line which simultaneously took over the Metropolitan's stopping service between Finchley Road and Wembley Park,allowing Metropolitan trains to run non-stop between these two stations).
Steam-hauled trains still run on the Metropolitan line at special annual events
The line from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Moor Park was double-tracked in 1962 to allow some trains to operate non-stop between these stations, speeding the service for longer-distance passengers.
Electric trains began running from Baker Street to Uxbridge in 1905 and to Rickmansworth in 1925.
The Watford branch was electrified from the outset (1925), but steam survived north of Rickmansworth until 1961 when the line was electrified to Amersham and Chesham and the service beyond Amersham was taken over by British Rail (now Chiltern Railways).
However, steam-hauled trains still run on the Metropolitan line at special annual events, usually held in May or June, when the general public can enjoy the exhilaration of travelling behind a steam engine as it tackles the gradients of the Chilterns.
Improving the Metropolitan line
Metropolitan line facts
Number of passengers on the Metropolitan line
The Metropolitan line runs from Aldgate to Amersham, with branches to Chesham, Uxbridge and Watford covering 66.7km (41.5 miles).
It serves 34 stations and requires 49 trains to operate the peak period service. King's Cross with an annual passenger count of 87 million is the line's busiest station.
Metropolitan line trains are known as A stock. They were manufactured by Cravens of Sheffield in two batches between 1960 and 1962 and run as eight-car trains made up of two units each consisting of four cars permanently coupled together.
The trains were refurbished by Adtranz in Derby between 1994-1997. New Metropolitan line trains are being rolled out under the upgrade plan, throughout 2011 and 2012.
Only 9.7km (six miles) out of the line's 66.7km (41.5 miles) are actually under ground
The main Metropolitan line depot is at Neasden, but there are several other sidings at Rickmansworth, Uxbridge and Wembley Park.
Train services on part of the Metropolitan line are monitored and controlled by a computerised signalling control centre at Baker Street. All routes north of Wembley Park are controlled from local signal cabins, as are the in-town sections.
Although today's Metropolitan line had its origins in the world's first Underground railway, in fact only 9.7km (six miles) out of the line's 66.7km (41.5 miles) are actually underground. This makes what is often popularly known as the 'Met', more like a suburban railway than a typical part of the London Underground.
The line holds a record for the London Underground system - the longest distance between adjacent stations by rail is the 6.26 km (3.89 miles) between Chesham and Chalfont & Latimer Amersham is the most westerly point served by the Underground, 43km (27 miles) from central London, and is the highest station above mean sea level 147m (490ft).
Metropolitan line management
The Metropolitan line's General Manager is Angela Back.
London Unerground is responsible for the maintenance, upgrading and renewal of the Metropolitan line's assets.
If you wish to comment on the Metropolitan line services, or would like to know more about the line, please contact us.