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How London works: What’s it like driving the tube?

Lisa Wright


You’ve spent hours smushed up against strangers’ armpits in them. You’ve fallen asleep in them after one too many shandies and ended up in West Ruislip. You’ve ran through their doors and just made it without leaving your bag/ coat/ baby on the platform. But have you ever thought about what it’s like on the other side of the tube door?

The drivers of the London Underground aren’t a showy bunch. Tucked up front, they might spend all day telling you to move down the carriage, but they don’t tend to blow their own trumpets that much. So it’s about time we did.

Since opening way back in 1863, the Metropolitan line (aka The Purple One) has gone from a passenger and goods railway to the 42 mile, 34-station high frequency tube we know today. 59 vehicles operate on the line, each seating 306 passengers, and the Met is most valued for its express commuter service, ferrying workies from the suburbs to the city in quick sharp time.

Here’s what it’s really like to drive the Metropolitan line, from Aldgate to Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Still have more questions about the inner workings of the Underground? Crib up on these 25 unusual facts.


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