Until recently, the largest subway network in the world: The London Underground system is about 400 km long. It was the longest subway network in the world until a few years ago. The metros of Shanghai and Beijing have now (as of 2022) overtaken London in terms of network length. However, the title of “oldest subway in the world” will remain in London forever. The first underground train ran as early as 1863, at that time still with steam locomotives.
Overview: The London Underground is operated by the Transport of London company. The system has about 265 stations, about half of which are underground. Officially, the London Underground has 11 lines. However, these lines often have branch lines, so in reality there are actually far more than 11 lines. The older lines run in very narrow tubes, while the newer subways run in modern, wide tubes.
Officially, the London Underground is called “Underground”, but many people simply call it Tube. The common international name “Metro” is rarely used, but the English understand the term.
One of the popular excursions in London is to the film studios, where the Harry Potter films were shot. The location of the studios is about 30 kilometres north of London near the town of Watford. The tour includes a bus transfer from London and has very good reviews. A “must” for every Harry Potter fan on holiday in London. The trip by bus and the visit to the film studios takes around 7 hours. You should book early, the popular Harry Potter excursion from London is often sold out. The alternative journey by public transport is not so easy. The excursion to the Warner Brothers Studios is for many London holidaymakers the highlight of their trip.
Information about tickets and fares can be found on this page
The 11 main lines have the same colors on all plans. Unfortunately, the blue of the Piccadilly Line and the Victoria Line is relatively similar, which sometimes leads to confusion.
The red circle is the famous symbol of the Underground.
Names of the lines: They are not numbered, but have the following 11 names: Bakerloo Line, Central Line, Circle Line, District Line, Hammersmith & City Line, Jubilee Line, Metropolitan Line, Northern Line, Piccadilly Line , Victoria Line, Waterloo & City Line.
The Central Line is now the most important underground line in London, carrying nearly 300 million passengers a year. The Central Line is also the longest line with a length of over 74 kilometers. The Waterloo & City Line, on the other hand, is the shortest line at only 2.4 kilometers. The Circle Line runs in a circle around the city center, similar to the Ringbahn in Berlin.
Other rail transportation in London
However, there are many other rail-based means of transportation in London.
On the one hand, there is the London Overground. It is a public transportation system comparable to a suburban railroad with about 9 lines. It is mainly used by people in neighborhoods and suburbs further from the center.
There is also the DLR (Dockland Light Railway). This is a modern light rail, automatic without a driver, in and around the old Docklands harbor. The DLR has been around for 30 years and continues to expand (currently 45 stations as of early 2019).
A tramway (streetcar) has also been back in London since 2000. The still small network comprises 4 lines with a total route length of 28 kilometers.
Normal local trains to the surrounding areas are also used a lot. Since such railroads stop several times within London, they are also popular among residents and tourists within the city. They are often faster than the Underground because the distance between stops is much greater.