London Underground, commonly referred to as the Tube, opened in 1863 and is the world’s oldest – and largest – below surface Metro network.
Handling around 3.5 million passenger journeys per day the Tube has 11 lines covering 402km and serving 270 stations; at peak times there are more than 525 trains speeding around the city.
Transport for London is keen to update the Tube’s equipment as a lot of it is decades old. The need to invest in the future is vital in order to allow the service to continue working smoothly and so TfL are carrying out a multi-billion pound programme that will provide 30% more capacity across the network.
The programme includes the introduction of new trains, signalling and track, as well as undertaking the reconstruction of the busiest and most complex stations so services can run faster, more reliably and more frequently.
The projects that have already been completed include new air-conditioned trains on the Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines and the redevelopment of King’s Cross St. Pancras. Other schemes involved improving the signalling on the Jubilee line, resulting in more frequent trains, as well as upgrading track and signaling on the Victoria line and adding new trains to the service.
Transport for London leave the day to day running of the Tube down to their subsidiary company London Underground (LU) Ltd. LU is responsible for all aspects of the Tube’s operations including running the trains, stations and control centres, making sure the Tube is safe and secure, and collecting and protecting fares revenue. Alongside these responsibilities LU deals with the maintenance and renewal of most of the infrastructure used by the Tube.
TfL have made a number of commitments to Tube travellers including a new 24-hour Tube service at weekends from 2015. The Night Tube network will be an additional service to the existing 24-hour and night bus services and therefore will provide passengers with an extensive and integrated service throughout Friday and Saturday nights. Initially the service will run on the Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines.
TFL will employ more staff in ticket halls and on gatelines in order to help customers with services and ticketing from the first train to the last. Improved ticket machines will be implemented and the numbers will be increased in order to make them easier and faster to use. Another improvement that is part of the scheme includes the installation of better technology in stations, as well as providing customer service staff with the latest in mobile technology which will also be available to help customers in ticket hall.
Transport for London launched the Travel Better London campaign in a bid to encourage passengers to be more aware and considerate of each other when travelling around the capital. TFL brought London poets to the transport network, to add a bit more excitement to everyone’s journeys and celebrate the city’s thriving poetry community on National Poetry Day last year.