Anyone who’s suffered through commuting on the District line deserves a medal in our books.
While we definitely appreciate the spacious carriages and 4G, it also has a myriad of problems.
It’s one of the slowest and oldest lines, and in 2018 recorded nearly 200 delays that lasted more than 15 minutes – equating to £42 million in lost hourly wages.
The line also accounted for more than 25per cent of all Underground faults between 2015 and 2018.
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Commuters on a District Line train at Westminster Underground
But there’s a really odd historical reason for that – money!
The District Railway, now known as the District line, was launched in 1868.
It was opened after the huge success of the Metropolitan line – the first Underground line which connected Paddington to the City via King’s Cross.
The transport authorities decided to connect South Kensington to Tower Hill to complete a full circle line around London.
But this is where the problems started.
As is the case today, West London was an expensive area and the costs of building the line were far higher than expected.
There were also far fewer passengers than the transport company had hoped for.
So to make the line more profitable and make up for the money spent on these costs, the authorities built more stations.
More stations meant more passengers, meaning more money for the company that owned the line.
So rather than doing the costly work to finish the circular railway around London, they built more stations in what were then villages and countryside outside of London.
Stations were built in areas such as Wimbledon, Richmond, and Ealing – leading to the five branch lines that often delay services today.
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There are 60 stations on the line today – the most of any Tube line – meaning even more delays as the trains must stop at every station.
As well as this, there are also still huge delays today because of the 1920s signalling system that still operates in some areas of the lines – with further issues arising when these systems were upgraded.
The District Railway became the District line in 1933 after all of the city’s bus, tram, and Underground networks were brought together in one organisation called the London Passenger Transport Board.
As anyone who’s taken a District tube knows, the line is vast.
It’s over 64km long and crosses 13 London boroughs and six fare zones.
So the next time you’re cursing your District line delay, you know who to blame!
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