In pictures: 160 years of the London Underground

From the first test ride in 1863 to the opening of the Elizabeth line, we’ve taken a look at the London Underground over the last 160 years.

The London Underground celebrates its 160 year anniversary today, making it the oldest underground network in the world.

On January 10 1863, the Metropolitan Railway opened its new subterranean railway between Paddington and Farringdon, ushering in a new age of transport - the London Underground.

The trains were originally drawn by steam locomotives, necessitating large ventilation shafts at the stations and in the shallow “cut-and-cover” tunnels.

The small wooden carriages were divided into first- and second-class like long-distance trains, and were lit inside with gas-burning lamps.

The service was immediately popular with Victorian, despite the noise and smoke from the engines.

But the primitive and abrupt braking of the trains often caused injuries, and an official report in 1897 included the detail that a pharmacist was treating those suffering from the distress of their journeys with his special “Metropolitan Mixture”.

The line and its rivals, such as the District Railway, were electrified by 1905.

The first deep line, tunneled through the London clay, was the City and South London Railway, now the Bank and Morden branches of the Northern Line, opened in 1890 with all-electrified trains.

That was soon followed by the Waterloo and City line and the Central London Railway from Shepherd’s Bush in the west to the Bank of England in the east.

The Central line was dubbed the “Twopenny Tube” for its fare and circular tunnels, with the whole network eventually becoming known as “The Tube”.

Underground stations were used as makeshift bomb shelters during the Blitz in 1940 and 1941.

Expansion continued after the war, with the Jubilee line named in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee in 1977 finally opened in 1979.

The Queen also lent her name to the newest addition to the network: the Elizabeth line, formerly known as Crossrail, runs from Reading and Heathrow airport to the west of London to Abbey Wood in Kent and Shenfield in Essex.

Today the Tube handles up to five million passenger journeys a day. At peak times, there are more than 543 trains whizzing around the capital.

The network has expanded to 11 lines and serves 272 stations, making it one of the busiest metro systems in the world.

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