Business and financeGulliver

London at last sets a starting date for its 24-hour tube. Probably

IN 1863, London became the first city in the world to build an underground train system. The line, which ran from Paddington to Farringdon, used coal-powered steam trains. For passengers, that made the daily commute a grimy and unpleasant one.

Plus ca change, a modern-day Londoner might lament. Today’s tube network runs for an impressive 402 kilometres, through 270 stations. But demand has increased dramatically. In the 2015/16 fiscal year, Londoners took 1.34 billion tube journeys. That is two-and-a-half times more than in 1982, the post-war low point. Trains are often crowded and delays frequent.

Things have been improving recently. Much of the network of 11 lines that runs deep beneath central London’s streets was built in the 50 years after that inaugural journey (the exceptions being the Victoria line, which opened in 1968, and the Jubilee line, which opened in 1979; other lines have since been extended into the suburbs). So Transport for London (TfL), which runs the tube, has been busy overhauling its creaking infrastructure, upgrading signals (some of which dated back to 1920), tracks, trains and stations. It says it now…Continue reading

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