Down the Tube: It's a nostalgic journey
BY Associated Press
Monday, January 14, 2013
1/14/13 at 6:21 AM
Tourists waiting for their morning subway train to Madame Tussauds were treated to an unusual sight Sunday: a 19th-century steam engine chugging down the tracks.
Transit officials sent the Met Locomotive 1, built in 1898, down London's Metropolitan Line to mark the 150th anniversary of the capital's Tube network, the world's oldest.
Hundreds of train fans, costume-wearing enthusiasts, and curious onlookers gathered at platforms and bridges across the city to watch as the locomotive traveled nonstop from Kensington Olympia station in the west to Moorgate station in central London.
London Mayor Boris Johnson was among the invited passengers aboard the historic black-and-red locomotive. He said the trip was "romantic," describing "thick clouds of white steam going past and then bits of soot coming through from the engine."
An extensive transport network has shaped the British capital and its suburbs. The Guardian newspaper reported on the public opening of London's Metropolitan Line on Jan. 10, 1863, a day after the first stretch of rail had opened. The line ran 120 trains each way during the day, carrying up to 40,000 passengers. Extra steam locomotives were called in to handle the crowds.
The expansion of the subway network - better known in London as the Tube - has had a major impact on the city's design.
The underground development has grown into a 249-mile system carrying 1.2 billion passengers each year.
Metropolitan 1, a restored steam train built in 1898, passes a modern Tube train Sunday as it passes through Farringdon station on its journey between Kensington Olympia station in the west to Moorgate station in central London. ALASTAIR GRANT / AP