TfL in Five Facts

Map of 1953 Coronation Area (1953-06-02) by London Transport ExecutiveTfL Corporate Archives

London's heartbeat

TfL is one of London's most iconic organisations, managing buses, tubes, trams, trains, and more. But did you know these five surprising facts?

Art today (1966) by Hans UngerLondon Transport Museum

1. Only 45% of the underground is...underground?

That's right, despite being called the underground only 45% of the service is actually underground. This vast network of tube lines cover over 402km across London. 

First Trial Trip on the Metropolitan Railway (1862-05-24)TfL Corporate Archives

2. The Metropolitan line was a world first

Opened in 1863, The Metropolitan Railway between Paddington and Farringdon was the first, urban, underground railway in the world.

Front side of a postcard illustrating two horse omnibuses in competition (1910-01-01)TfL Corporate Archives

3. London buses were inspired by Parisian omnibuses

George Shillibeer began the city's first omnibus service in 1829, but the idea originally came from public omnibus service in Paris.

Nowadays the Route 25, between Oxford Circus and Ilford, is London's busiest service, carrying around 19.4m passengers annually.

Underground Map 1973 (1973-06-15) by London Transport ExecutiveTfL Corporate Archives

4. The tube map shows interchanges, not distance

The tube map is known around the world and was created by Harry Beck. This map was also quite radical for its time, inspired by a circuit board to show interchanges between lines rather than estimating distance. 

Moquette design 2 (2021-07-06)TfL Corporate Archives

5. Moquette is a practical fabric of wool and nylon

In addition to engineering, TfL has some iconic design features including the font, roundels and of course upholstery on the trains, buses and trams. 

This fabric is called moquette, from the French word for carpet and is a blend of wool and nylon.

Map of the Underground Railways of London (1927-01-01)TfL Corporate Archives

Start your TfL journey

Just like TfL's 11 Underground lines, the Archives stories on Google Arts and Culture will take you on a journey through many delights. But why not start by learning more about the Archives itself?

Credits: Story

Story compiled by TfL using information in records at the Transport for London Corporate Archives. The Corporate Archives seeks to preserve and make accessible records, not to interpret them. A wider range of material is available for physical consultation.

Permission is granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only.

This story has been enhanced using an image from the collections of the London Transport Museum. All enquiries regarding that image should be made directly to that institution.    

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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