Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right The dirtiest tube line on the London Underground is...
News / Transport & Travel

The dirtiest tube line on the London Underground is...

The dirtiest tube line on the London Underground is...

Grab yourself some hand sanitiser pronto, because the dirtiest tube lines have been revealed and the results ain't pretty. According to research from online doctor Dr Edd, the Northern line is the most germ-ridden tube line with almost three times more germs than the Central line, which came second in the bacteria league table.

The website sent a team to swab 60 surfaces on the ten busiest tube lines to assess bacteria levels on the Underground network by measuring colony-forming units (CFU), which means the number of viable bacteria cells that thrive in every 10cm².

The research also looked at the dirtiest stations and found that Stratford was the worst offender for those pesky bacteria, where the touch-screen ticket machines had ten times more bacteria than a toilet. Lovely stuff. 


And it'll come as no surprise to anyone that the poles that are grabbed by thousands of people trying to stay upright on the tube are also rife with germs. The upright poles were dirtiest on the Northern line, while the Waterloo and City line's ceiling poles had the highest level of germs, which is good news for small people, at least. 

Oh, and the seats were dirtiest on the Central line, so you can give those a wide berth and pretend you're just doing it to be selfless.

Image: SNeequaye

Now find out which are the hottest platforms on the tube

And could London be getting tube lines painted on the pavement?




Wow, that's even something I've never thought about! I guess such conditions can bring undesired effects... 

Ann S

Why don't TFL change their seats to plastic like other countries? The reasons they give for sticking to fabric ones; tradition and comfort. I'm sure most passengers would rather sit on a clean hard seat any day. Is there a way to petition this? 

cj w

I used to travel the length of the Northern line in the early 80's

It was filthy then.

Nothing has changed, I was on the line last week, it's just grubby.

I explained to some Americans who were wondering about the line map colours, that they were on a historic train. "Really?" They said.

"Yes", I replied, "it's the oldest, noisiest and dirtiest train we have in London and I suspect it's the same one I used in 1982."

TIP: dirty touch screens, wear those touch screen gloves when using, failing that do not suck your fingers or eat anything in transit, which is gross for fellow passengers anyhow!

ruth G

Im not surprised abput this news at all. I ride the northern line almost daily and for the first three months of living here was sick constantly. Now, my immune system is supercharged from public transport!

Karis B

I would say the seats on the Bakerloo line are far more dirtier than the Central. There's been times where I've seen dust ooze from the seats as passengers sit down - not pleasant!


Do NOT grab yourself some hand sanitizer, just wash your hands well with some plain soap when you get to the office / home / before you eat. 

Your article seems to imply 'Dr Edd' is adivising use of anti-bac gels for day to day use, which is actually really dangerous for us in the long-term (antibacterial resistance anyone?). Could be a good much of the general public still thinks it's perfectly normal to use hand sanitizers on a day to day basis, when actually a lot of the scientific world, including doctors, are looking to ban them for public use unless in certain settings (e.g. hospitals, care-homes).