• The London Underground is the oldest underground train line in the world, according to The Telegraph.
  • Transport for London reports that up to five million journeys are made between its 270 stations every day.
  • But traveling on the Underground – featured in countless films including the 2012 James Bond movie “Skyfall” – isn’t quite as glamorous as some people might think.
  • From overcrowding to strikes, broken escalators, service delays, and rodents, here’s what it’s really like to ride the London Underground.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Most people are probably familiar with the London Underground. After all, it’s been featured in countless films, like the 2012 James Bond flick “Skyfall,” as reported by the British Film Institute. It’s also the oldest underground train line in the world, according to The Telegraph, and Transport for London has said that its 270 stations handle up to five million journeys a day.

But traveling on the tube, as Londoners call it, isn’t quite as glamorous as movies might lead one to believe. From overcrowding, to strikes by staff, broken escalators, uninspiring station architecture, service delays, and rodents, here’s what it’s really like.


The London Underground may be the world’s oldest underground train system and has been featured in a James Bond movie, but many of its stations are not exactly scenic.

Foto: Commuters at Canada Water station on February 14, 2020.sourceBen Mack / Insider

Sources: The Telegraph and British Film Institute


Overcrowding is an issue.

Foto: Commuters try to get on District Line trains at Earl’s Court Underground station.sourceYunus Kaymaz / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

With up to five million passenger journeys every day, space is often at a premium on the trains …

Foto: Passengers inside a Jubilee Line Underground train between Canada Water and Canary Wharf on February 13, 2020.sourceBen Mack / Insider

Source: Transport for London


… And even if you can get a seat, you might be squeezed between two strangers.

Foto: A woman sits between two men on an Underground train.sourceScott Barbour / Getty Images

Things can be especially chaotic during rush hour at stations close to office blocks.

Foto: Commuters rush to go up the escalators at Canary Wharf Underground station during the morning rush hour on February 17, 2020.sourceBen Mack / Insider

Broken escalators can make things more crowded.

Foto: Commuters entering Canary Wharf Underground station during the evening on February 14, 2020.sourceBen Mack / Insider

Having only some of the entry and exit gates working does not help with crowding.

Foto: Passengers queue to enter the Underground station at Waterloo Station.sourceDarl de Souza / AFP via Getty Images

With 270 stations, figuring out where you need to go can be difficult if you’re not good at reading maps.

Foto: A map of the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and Overground lines at Canada Water station.sourceBen Mack / Insider

Source: Transport for London


Getting assistance can be hard if the ticket windows are closed.

Foto: Closed assistance and ticketing windows at an Underground station.sourceTolga Akmen / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Tube strikes are fairly common, and can lead to a reduction or suspension of services.

Foto: A London Underground worker adjusts an information board at Russell Square station.sourceScott Barbour / Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


Sometimes stations will simply be closed entirely due to bad weather, maintenance, accidents, or strikes.

Foto: Commuters receive directions in front of the closed gates of Victoria Underground Station.sourceDaniel Berehulak / Getty Images

You might see rodents on the platform with you.

Foto: A mouse near the edge of an Underground platform.sourceDan Kitwood / Getty Images

Being small and confined spaces, illnesses can spread at the stations and on the trains.

Foto: A woman wears a mask on an Underground train on February 14, 2020.sourceS.C. Leung / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

If you’re out late, only the Victoria, Jubilee, and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines run at night, and only on Fridays and Saturdays.

Foto: Not every London Underground station is open at night.sourceVernon Yuen / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Source: Transport for London


You might encounter people not wearing any pants, at least if it’s No Pants Day (or No Trousers Day as it’s called in the UK).

Foto: Commuters on a train during the 8th annual “No Trousers Tube Ride” in London in 2017.sourceAlberto Pezzali / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

Source: Time Out London


You might get to see the Queen …

Foto: Queen Elizabeth II is given a tour of the carriage of a parked train at Baker Street underground station in March 2013.sourceAP Photo / Chris Radburn

… But you’re far more likely to see lots of security.

Foto: A police officer gives directions to a woman using her iPhone at Victoria Underground Station.sourceRobert Alexander / Getty Images

Even with the security, you can still see people doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing, like climbing on top of entrance signs during soccer tournaments.

Foto: An England soccer supporter atop a sign for the London Bridge Underground station in July 2018, during the FIFA World Cup.sourceAP Photo / Matt Dunham

Despite the name, many of the stations aren’t even underground — in fact, only about 45% of the network is.

Foto: An Underground train on the Piccadilly Line heading into Central London in the snow in February 2009.sourceAdrian Dennis / AFP via Getty Images

Source: The Telegraph

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