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If trains fascinate you, London Underground should be able to satisfy every bit of that interest. From its days of being steam-operated, it has now grown to adopt the most innovative railway system.

London underground station

London Underground, the oldest underground railway system in the world, opened its first section on the Metropolitan Railway in January of 1863. It has earned several other names along the years including “the underground” and “the tube”. But despite these names, more than half of the London Underground network is built above the ground. The moniker, “the tube”, actually describes the cylindrical deep-bore tunnels of the railway.

London Underground has a ticketing system that utilizes either paper or electronic cards. The Transport for London Travelcard Zones are used for fare calculation, including those for Underground use. Travelcard Zone 1 to 6 covers all areas of Greater London. To explain it more simply, the more zones a person travels through, the higher or more expensive the fare is.

London Underground ticket machines are available anytime. Staffed ticket centers are mostly open for certain periods only. There are machines that sell various tickets and require you to pay with coins only. Some also accept English bank notes and are able to give out change. This type of machine are also capable of accepting payments via debit cards and credit cards.

London Underground has begun introducing its Oyster card. It is a smart-card that has an RFID chip embedded into it which is used to buy and accumulate tickets. The Oyster cards work like the Travelcards, which may not only be used on the London Underground, but on buses, as well as the Docklands Light Railway. London Underground claims that the new Oyster card is a more inexpensive means to operate compared to the traditional cash ticketing or the magnetic-type Travelcards.

London Underground does not only have the staffed or automatic ticket gates but is also being patrolled by uniformed, as well as plain-clothes inspectors who are all equipped with Oyster-card readers. People who are not in possession of a ticket for the length of their journey are liable to pay penalty or are prosecuted for fare evasion. Those who face prosecution are required to pay the fine or face imprisonment of up to three months.

Despite being the world’s most “ancient” underground railway, the London Underground is still among the safest public transport systems the world has ever known. With just a single fatal mishap for every 300 million trips, that definitely is a feat.