Facts About The Tube That Are Totally Made Up

Geoff Marshall
By Geoff Marshall Last edited 24 months ago
Facts About The Tube That Are Totally Made Up

Lists of 'Things you never knew about the Underground', you just can’t get enough of them, right?

But are all these 'facts' true? Is the truth being bent a little? And what if some things you’ve read about the tube are a load of bunkum altogether?

One thing's for sure; the facts below are definitely made up — because we made up some ourselves, and asked you to think up the rest. When you’re next down the pub, try slipping some of these into the conversation and passing them off as bona fide.

What do you mean you haven't heard of Abbey Road tube station? Photo by Konstantin Binder in the Londonist Flickr pool

Bond Street is obviously not named after James Bond. It's named after former resident Ernest Moneypenny, inventor of the premium bond.

In tube platform announcements, the length of the pause between the words "mind" and "the gap" indicates how wide the gap between train and the platform actually is.

Escalators wide enough for three people were once trialled at Pimlico in 1976, so people could stand on both sides and others could walk through the middle. The initiative was ditched when the escalators still got blocked with people with huge suitcases.

Cannon Street station had its last live cannon decommissioned in 1924.

A councillor from Harrow by the name of Christopher East once unsuccessfully complained to TfL on grounds of discrimination, as there was no East Harrow station. (There is a North Harrow, West Harrow and South Harrow).

A special pronunciation map for American tourists. It doesn't exist.

'Hypercolor' travelcards were once trialled on the network in 1991. Starting out blue, the card changed to purple as you got low on money, and went red once the balance reached £0.

One of those ‘forgotten laws that are no longer upheld’ states that anyone riding on the roof of a Northern line train faces a fine of £2.

There is a USA-tourist edition of the tube map available with phonetic spellings of all station names. Borough, for example, is 'Burrah'.

One passenger — chosen at random at the end of each day — has their day's Oyster usage refunded.

If you press every single 'door close' button on a Central line train simultaneously, the train reboots and emits a sound similar to a Mac's startup noise.

When the London Underground first opened, tickets were circular in shape as it was easier to conceal them in a top hat.

The supervisors' office at Morden station has a rogues' gallery of snaps of people who've ended up there by accident, after falling asleep and missing their stop on the last train home.

One passenger — chosen at random at the end of each day — has their day's Oyster usage refunded.

Roding Valley station doesn't actually exist; it's a ‘copyright trap’ to catch out those replicating the tube map illegally.

At Oval station every Comic Relief day, all the roundels are replaced by actual oval shaped ones.

Look out for these next Comic Relief. You won't see them, because they don't exist

The phrases 'minor' and 'major' delays were introduced by a TfL press officer who previously worked for the London Symphony Orchestra.

There were once plans to have a 'Zone 0' fare zone, for just Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Green Park, and Leicester Square stations.

In a government move to boost language education, if you switch languages on a ticket to machine to be anything but English, you automatically get a 5% discount.

There's a still a service on the Jubilee line to Charing Cross, but it’s a parliamentary train, and it only runs on the second Wednesday of the month, at 12.13am — the last train of the day.

New trains being designed for roll-out in 2020 will have forward-facing 'kids seats' fitted with plastic controls, so that under fives can 'have a go' at driving.



Last Updated 20 November 2015

ceedoubleu

I could believe the one about Morden!

Chairman Pip

I do like the one with the US-friendly version of the map...

Geoff Marshall

I'm hoping by clearly stating that these facts are MADE UP, that others won't be tempted to do their own article where they replicate them, but you never know ...

Geoff Marshall
Dave K

Cheers Geoff ;)

Seán Worrall

Suvvuck surely?

Byron Miller

Geoff - Did you know Bank tube station actually has bank vaults in it. The only way to access it is from a door disguised as a maintenance door (it's in the corridor to Monument station). ;)

Jonathan Wadman

I'd love the one about the parliamentary train to be true...

MudShoot

There is a parliamentary train running between Uxbridge and Uxbridge via Wembley Park, Baker Street, Aldgate, Embankment, Hammersmith and Sudbury Town. It runs three times a week in each direction (clockwise on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings, and anticlockwise on Monday, Tuesday and Friday evenings). On weekdays, it is operated by the S stock, while on Saturdays with the 1973 stock.

On Sundays there is a similar service between Chesham and Heathrow Terminal 4 (then back to Chesham) via Wembley Park, Baker Street, Aldgate, Embankment, Hammersmith and Northfields. It runs in the very early morning and is operated by the S stock.

The Mill Hill East branch is due to be closed by September 2017. This is because there are plans to build a short stretch of a new motorway (M14), running between Edgware (branching off the M1) and Southgate. The road is planned to run directly underneath the Dollis Brook Viaduct. Unfortunately, because motorways are wide, many of the support columns will have to be demolished, and the remaining ones are not strong enough to support heavy London Underground trains. This led to the decision of the branch line being permanently closed.

Before the construction of the Victoria line, the Northern City line (currently owned by NR) and the Piccadilly line had their northern termini the other way around: the Northern City line ran between Moorgate and Cockfosters, while the Piccadilly line ran between Uxbridge/Hounslow and Hertford/Welwyn Garden City. When the Victoria line came through Finsbury Park, the only way to fit the new Victoria line tracks in was by completely refurbishing the track layout of the station. This is why the northern terminus for the Piccadilly line has been moved to Cockfosters, while the Northern City line began running through to Hertfordshire.

After the completion of the Thameslink Programme in 2018 and Crossrail in 2019, a new project is going to begin at Farringdon station: the station will become a huge underground railway junction. This will allow Thameslink/Crossrail services to run various different services, such as Brighton-Heathrow, Horsham-Shenfield and Peterborough-Reading. The project is set to be finished in 2031

The Waterloo & City line used to have three stations. The third one, and the only intermediate station on the line, was at Blackfriars. The station was closed in 1962 due to its awkward location (directly under the Thames) which the LU officials thought was too dangerous. So the station was closed to avoid the danger.

The original plan of the Metropolitan Railway was to extend the route beyond Verney Junction all the way to Birmingham (with two branch lines: one to Northampton and one to Redditch). The plan was abandoned due to cost.

Thameslink services used to terminate at Burgess Hill. In 1991, though, Thameslink finally realised that that the town is so close to Brighton that it's pointless to terminate the trains just a few miles to the north...

The Bakerloo line was actually named in honour of Lou Baker, who worked for the City & South London Railway for 46 years since its opening.

There are plans for the District line to take over the c2c services, creating new routes, such as Southend Central-Richmond, Grays-Wimbledon, and even Shoeburyness-Uxbridge (via Sudbury Town, taking over the Piccadilly line services as well).

peter

heres a true but strange fact, in the event of a power outage, the emergency supply for the tube is provided from 4 generators powered by Rolls Royce Jet engines.

a_view_from

Roding Valley defintely exists, I have photographs!

Tube Geek

Mail Rail is due to become part of Crossrail 3 in 2032, running from Basildon - Gatwick/Southampton via Mount Pleasant. This will be transferred to TfL just days after opening as part of the Postal Museum, 15 years late, becoming only 0.1% of the TfL network, with Crossrail 2 reaching Milton Keynes, Birmingham and (finally) that bit of Southwark with no trains at the moment. Crossrail 4 will then open in 2045, running from Wick - Penzance/Pembroke, where you can get the underwater tunnel trains to Belfast via Dublin. TfL will announce on its opening day they have taken over railways across cross the world, and are to be rebranded TftW, Transport for the World.