A brief history of the Underground

London Underground milestones


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


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


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


  • The Circle line is finished


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • District and Circle lines are electrified


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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


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


  • The Underground Group and the Metropolitan Railway become 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


  • 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


  • The London Passenger Transport Board is nationalised and now becomes the London Transport Executive


  • The first aluminium train enters service on the District line


  • The end of steam and electric locomotive haulage of London Transport passenger trains


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


  • The Queen opens the Victoria line


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


  • The last steam shunting and freight locomotive is withdrawn from service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


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


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


  • The Prince of Wales opens the Jubilee line


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


  • Dot matrix train destination indicators are introduced on platforms


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


  • The Piccadilly line is extended to serve Heathrow Terminal 4


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


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


  • The London Underground Customer Charter is launched


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


  • 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 close


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


  • Transport for London (TfL) is formed - creating one integrated transport body for the Capital


  • TfL's online Journey Planner is launched, allowing customers to plan journeys across several modes


  • London Underground becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of TfL. A comprehensive plan follows to improve the Tube, refurbish hundreds of stations, upgrade lines to provide faster, more frequent and reliable services, install step-free access at many locations and entirely rebuild some central London stations too small to deal with the number of people passing through every day.
  • The Oyster card is introduced
  • Busking is legalised


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


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


  • Piccadilly line extension to Heathrow Terminal 5 opens
  • Metronet transfers to TfL control
  • First new station on an existing Underground line for 70 years opens as Wood Lane station on the Hammersmith & City line


  • The Circle line changes shape
  • London Underground is named Best Metro Europe
  • Kings Cross St Pancras station upgrade is completed and becomes step-free in 2010 ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games


  • 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


  • A full fleet of brand new Victoria Line trains become operational
  • Green Park becomes step-free to provide easier access to the Victoria, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines in time for the Olympics


  • London successfully hosts the first Public Transport Olympic Games. Reliability across the Tube averages no lower than 97% during the Games and Paralympics period. More than 3,500 office-based colleagues become TfL Ambassadors and join frontline staff to help customers move around the network


  • TfL celebrates the 150th anniversary of London Underground
  • Walk-through, air-conditioned trains are introduced on the Circle line, offering wheelchair access and wider doors to wheelchair and buggy users


  • Contactless payments are expanded across the Tube, trams, DLR, and London Overground
  • Major Northern line signalling upgrade is completed, increasing passenger capacity by 20% and reducing journey times by 18%


  • Night Tube is launched - with 7.8 million passengers in the first 12 months, it boosts London's economy by £171m
  • Work to install new signalling and control system begins on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines - the Four Lines Modernisation (4LM) project


  • Tottenham Court Road station upgrade is completed, including three new entrances and a connection to Crossrail platforms
  • Bond Street station upgrade is completed, expanding capacity 30% to prepare for the Elizabeth line. Both Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations, serving either end of Oxford Street, become step-free
  • The last of the new S-stock trains enters service - these air-conditioned, walkthrough trains are now used on over 40% of the Underground network
  • Boring of the Northern line extension tunnels from Kennington to Battersea is completed in November


  • A new Hammersmith Service Control Centre opens, improving reliability and customer information on sections of the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines
  • The Victoria Tube station major upgrade is completed, doubling the size of the station and creating step-free access. This includes a new North Ticket Hall, nine new escalators, new lifts to improve step-free access between street and station, ticket hall and Victoria line platform levels and a new interchange tunnel connecting the two ticket halls


  • The first section of the Tube's new signalling upgrade - part of the 4LM project - is in use in March
  • Major Bank station upgrade is completed, including a brand new entrance into Bank station within the new Bloomberg development


  • TfL responds to the global coronavirus pandemic, asking people to follow Government guidance and not travel on public transport
  • Tunnelling work at the project to modernise and expand Bank Underground station finishes, marking a major milestone in the project
  • Test passenger trains travel along new Northern line extension tunnels for the first time between Kennington and Battersea Power Station over Christmas


  • TfL launches its first journey planning app, TfL Go
  • The Northern line is extended to Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms - the first major Tube extension this century
  • TfL and Siemens Mobility unveil the detailed design of the new generation Tube trains for the Piccadilly line


  • A third of London Underground stations become step-free
  • A new, wider southbound Northern line platform opens at Bank station, following a 17-week closure of the Bank branch of the Northern line
  • London Underground staff play a vital role in keeping London moving during the mourning period following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II
  • The Elizabeth line opens


  • TfL celebrates 160 years of London Underground