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London UndergroundThe London Underground (also known as the Underground or the Tube) is a public rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and parts of the counties of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.


The system serves 270 stations and has 402 kilometres (250 mi) of track, 55 per cent of which is actually above ground. The network incorporates the world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway which opened in 1863 and now forms part of the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, and also the first line to operate underground electric traction trains, the City & South London Railway in 1890, now part of the Northern line. The network has expanded to consist of 11 lines and in 2011/12 it carried over 1 billion passengers.

The system's first tunnels were built just below the surface using the cut and cover method. Later, circular tunnels – which give rise to its nickname the Tube – were dug through the London Clay at a deeper level. The early lines were marketed as the UNDERGROUND in the early 20th century on maps and signs at central London stations. The private companies that owned and ran the railways were merged in 1933 to form the London Passenger Transport Board. The current operator London Underground Limited (LUL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), the statutory corporation responsible for most elements of the transport network in Greater London.

As of 2012, 91 per cent of operational expenditure is covered by passenger fares. The Travelcard ticket was introduced in 1983 and Oyster, an electronic ticketing system, in 2003.
Today in official publicity and in general, the term 'Tube' embraces the whole Underground system, not just the lines that run in deep-level tunnels. The schematic Tube map, designed by Harry Beck in 1931, was voted a national design icon in 2006 and now includes other lines - the Docklands Light Railway and London Overground - as well as the non-rail Emirates Air Line. London Underground is celebrating 150 years of operations in 2013, with various events to mark the milestone.

Transport for London (TfL) was created in 2000 as the integrated body responsible for London's transport system. It replaced London Regional Transport. It assumed control of London Underground Limited in July 2003. TfL is part of the Greater London Authority and is constituted as a statutory corporation regulated under local government finance rules. It has three subsidiaries: London Transport Insurance (Guernsey) Ltd, TfL Trustee Company Ltd and Transport Trading Ltd (TTL), and London Underground Limited is a subsidiary of TTL.

The TfL Board is appointed by the Mayor of London. The Mayor also sets the structure and level of public transport fares in London. However the day-to-day running of the corporation is left to the Commissioner of Transport for London. The current Commissioner is Peter Hendy. The Mayor is responsible for producing an integrated transport strategy for London and for consulting the GLA, TfL, local councils and others on the strategy. The Mayor is also responsible for setting TfL's budget. The GLA is consulted on the Mayor's transport strategy, and inspects and approves the Mayor's budget. It is able to summon the Mayor and senior staff to account for TfL's performance. London TravelWatch, a body appointed by and reporting to the Assembly, deals with complaints about transport in London.

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