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London Underground

Underneath London, really.

The London Underground, also known more casually as The Tube, was the first underground railway system built to serve a city population in the world. The Metropolitan Underground railway, as it was known on opening in 1863, served a mere seven stations at its inception, though significantly two of those original stops will be instantly familiar to Sherlock fans - Baker Street and Gower Street (the latter being a short stroll from North Gower Street, the home of Speedy's Café).

From these humble beginnings the Underground began to grow exponentially over the decades. An exact history of the sheer growth of the system isn't called for here (though you can find extremely thorough histories if you are inclined), but in its current form the London Underground is comprised of eleven distinctive lines, serving a total of 270 individual stations - though on-going construction work will see this number bolstered further by 2018.

Most trains that operate on Tube lines have the colours of the rails and bars inside their interiors painted to match the line you see on a London Underground map, useful to help designate destinations when multiple lines may operate from a single platform, as the Circle and District lines do for example.  

The busiest London Underground station on the network is Waterloo, which saw 88 million people pass through the stop in in 2012.

Onscreen in Sherlock, Sumatra Road is a fictitious Underground station, but 'ghost stations' do in fact exist on the network - Aldwych, the location for the disused platform that appears in The Empty Hearse, being one of them. Sumatra Road is a reference to the infamous 'Giant Rat of Sumatra', as fleetingly mentioned in 'The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire' in the original canon, with Lord Moran filling in as the large rodent.  

Sherlock made use of numerous stations across the Tube network in The Empty Hearse. As well as the aforementioned Aldwych which is located on a disused and publicly inaccessible section of the Piccadilly line, filming took place at Westminster [Circle, District / Jubilee] where Sherlock and John enter from above ground and cross through the ticket barriers, and Charing Cross [Northern / Bakerloo] where the pair break through a maintenance access and descend deeper into the system. The Tube car bomb that the pair discover was actually a set built onstage at Upper Boat studios in Cardiff, the green bars inside designating it as a District line service.

Episodes London Underground has appeared in

The Empty Hearse (Episode 1, Series 3)

The best place to stop to easily see an onscreen tube location is Westminster [Circle / District / Jubillee], where you can see the spot Sherlock and John enter the Underground network on the eastern side of Whitehall, as well as the station concourse they cross.

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