How the world’s first metro system was built

History of Metropolitan Railway

London was the world’s largest city in the 1800s. Its roads were heavily congested, to control the traffic, Charles Pearson, a British lawyer and politician published a pamphlet in 1845 calling for the construction of the underground railway.

In 1863, the opening of London’s steam-hauled Metropolitan railway paved the way for the metro system. After three years of construction and setbacks, it was ready for business. The underground railway brought huge relief as it reduced terrible congestion on the roads.

Construction of the Underground system

The line was constructed through the method of cut and cover. Workers had to dig a huge trench, construct a tunnel out of brick archways and refill the hole over the newly built tunnel. Even though most lines went under existing roads, the construction process caused lots of disruptions, vibrations in buildings, and even destruction of buildings, thousands of people lost their homes.

Public’s reaction

On January 10th, 1863, 30,000 people traveled in the world’s first subway. It became an essential mode of transportation in London. Additional lines were soon built and so did new businesses next to the railroad. Attractions were also built to bring in tourists by train.

Greathead Shield

London was growing and everyone wanted the facility of the system. The city by the late 1800s had developed to an extent that the cut and cover technique was not feasible, therefore they had to find an alternative that would not cause much disruption, was less time taking, and required fewer workers.

That’s when the machine Greathead Shield came into the picture. A team of just 12 workers could bore through the earth. The new lines were called tubes and they varied depths, they were deeper than cut and cover lines, this construction, therefore, didn’t disturb the surface and it was possible to have tubes under buildings without demolishing them.

The success of tube line

The first tube line opened in 1890 and was so successful that twelve more lines were built in the next 20 years. Today almost 55 countries have underground railway also popularly known as Metro to deal with excessive growing traffic.

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