Sunday, March 06, 2005

The London Underground

About a third of the tunnels in the London Underground system are not used. There are around 40 unused stations which have been bricked up, including British Museum on the Central Line which served - surprise surprise - the British Museum, and Aldwych which is now used as a TV/film set. Some stations, such as Charing Cross and Embankment, are so close together that it's quicker to get out and walk.

3 comments:

Jodi said...

I'm not sure if the figures are correct, but there are definitely many out of use stations. Sometimes the actual overground station is still visible, and I've passed many on bus routes, as well as spotting the platforms whizzing by outside the tube train.

As for Charing Cross and Embankment, they are almost insultingly close. Whilst it's definitely not quicker to get out and walk between them (gotta go all the way up and then through the ticket barriers and walk for 2 minutes and then go through the ticket barriers and walk down again and wait for your train - maybe 3 or 4 minutes in total?), there's absolutely no point taking the train from one stop to the other. In fact, that's the case in quite a lot of stations in the West End of London. To get from Leicester Square to either Tottenham Court Road, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross or Embankment won't really take more than about 5-8 minutes on foot (less if you're as quick a walker as I am) and will take at least that by tube. People often forget to factor in the amount of time it takes you to reach the platform, and then the possibility of waiting for a train.

Dave said...

Apologies for the pedantry, In a previous life I used to work for the underground...

There are a great many unused stations but actually very few unused tunnels. Tunnelling being such an expensive and dangerous business 100 years ago that once built they were never going to be left fallow. Almost all unused stations are on lines presently in use and were mostly decommisioned because they were so close to other stations as to be uneconomic to keep open. Aldwych (or "Strand" as its sometimes known) is one of these as are British Museum (actually on the Piccadilly Line between Kings Cross and Russell Square) and Wood Lane (dead opposite the BBC TV centre on the central line). "Down Street" near Green Park, also on the Picc line, was used by Churchill and his staff as a deep level shelter during WW2 and "Bull and Bush" under Hampstead Heath was never actually opened as a station but until recently was the control centre for the flood gates in the tunnels which go under the Thames.

The longest stretches of unused tunnel are in the old sections of the Jubilee line before it was shifted for the JLE and on the Bakerloo line which actually goes as far as Camberwell Green but has only ever been used as a turning point/siding due to persistent flooding. The pourous chalky earth being the main reason why south london has almost no tube as opposed to the clay north of the river.

Right. Anorak back off now...

Stuart Ian Burns said...

See also this excellent post at Metafilter:

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/40242