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Nine times out of ten a trip to London will include a journey or two on the city's underground system. It's certainly the quickest way to get around to avoid the hustle and bustle of the streets above. The network features the oldest section of underground rail in the world and celebrations this month mark

150 years since the first journey was made along this track.

On 9th January 1863 the very first journey was made on the first section of London Underground to open. It was a three and a half mile section of track between Paddington and Farringdon, which at the time was known as the Metropolitan Railway. This section remains part of the modern network we know today. It took twenty-one years from 1863 to complete works on the rest of the inner section of the London Underground. To mark the 150th anniversary of the inaugural tube journey, travellers on the tube system were treated to a rather spectacular sight as steam trains made an appearance on the underground for the first time in years. Following a ballot, a selection of passengers won the opportunity to ride aboard a restored steam locomotive on the underground in a celebration of one of the greatest achievements of the Victorian era. A second steam journey will take place on 20th January so those interested in getting a once in a lifetime glimpse can do so this weekend.

Other celebrations marking a century and a half for the London Underground include an exhibition called Art on the Underground which will see Britain's artists create artworks which will be on display in stations throughout the station network. The Royal Mail will also release a limited edition set of London Underground stamps marking the occasion.

Today the underground rail network in London is one of the largest and best known in the world with around 250 miles of track, with 270 stations and carrying passengers on over 1.7 billion journeys a year. Around 45 per cent of the huge network is completely underground. Though passengers on the first London Underground journey in 1863 would have paid no more than six pence for their journey, these days a single ticket is over four pounds. The tube map is an iconic image that is celebrated by designers and artists throughout the world and the network also has a celebrity claim to fame with none other than US talk show host, Jerry Springer, being brought into the world in Highgate Station when his mother took cover there during an air raid.

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