England, there are two main types of rail services – underground and overground. These are used extensively by local residents as well as by tourists to get around due to their proliferation, regularity and reliability.
There are approximately 20 privately owned train operating companies in England. However, National Rail is usually understood to represent all passenger rail services in the whole of Great Britain. Significantly, National Rail does not include London Underground and several other networks under its umbrella.
Looking south along the platforms at Paddington Station, London.
The privately owned companies belong to the Association of Train Operating Companies, and each of them has been franchised for a set period of time by the government. While some conurbations use their own rail system almost exclusively, others may rely only on the services of National Rail to fulfil their transport needs.
London Overground was always owned and operated by National Rail. However, it is now in independent control of certain aspects of its management and infrastructure. London Overground continues to be a major player in the English- and London infrastructure, making travel in and around London comprehensive, quick and easy.
All of the railways under National Rail work on the same ticketing system, making it easy for passengers to commute using a range of trains. Passengers need a valid ticket to board the train. This ticket can be purchased at the station before boarding.
Alternatively, there are pay-as-you-go cards available, which can be topped up with credit and swiped before boarding to make it easier and quicker. These ticket prices are also cheaper than paper tickets. Penalties are payable for passengers without valid tickets.
London Overground alone currently has a fleet of over 30 and calls at approximately 80 different stations. Its lines comprise:
•East London Line •Gospel Oak to Barking Line •North London Line •Watford DC Line •West London Line
The London Overground network interchanges with the tube lines of:
•Bakerloo •Central •District •Hammersmith & City •Jubilee •Northern •Victoria
The London Underground, or tubes, is a rapid transport system consisting of 11 lines and calling on an impressive 270 different stations. Over 3 million people travel on the London Underground during the week. Incredibly, the tubes started running in January of 1863 and were the first of their kind in the world. In addition to the centre of London, the underground railway services the surrounding areas of:
•Essex •Hertfordshire •Buckinghamshire
Interestingly, just over half of the London Underground actually operates above ground level. Its railway stretches for over 400 kilometres, which means that it is the second longest metro system by length in the world.
Its 11 lines are split into the:
1)Subsurface routes, comprising the following lines: -Circle -District -Hammersmith & City -Metropolitan
2)Deep-tube routes, comprising the following lines: -Bakerloo -Central -Jubilee -Northern -Piccadilly -Victoria -Waterloo & City
The London Underground also works on a ticketing system, and heavy fines are payable by those attempting to board the train without a valid ticket. Although the underground systems do run from very early in the morning until late at night, they are not operational for 24 hours a day, unless specially arranged for a major event, such as the Olympics.