Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube

Andrew Martin

Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube

Why is the Victoria Line so hot? What is an Electrical Multiple Unit? Is it really possible to ride from Kings Cross to Kings Cross on the Circle line? The London Underground is the oldest, most sprawling and illogical metropolitan transport system in the world, the result of a series of botch-jobs and improvisations. Yet it transports over one billion passengers every year — and this figure is rising. It is iconic, recognised the world over, and loved and despised by Londoners in equal measure. Blending reportage, humour and personal encounters, Andrew Martin embarks on a social history of London's underground railway system (which despite its name, is in fact fifty five per cent overground). Along the way he attempts to untangle the mess that is the Northern Line, visit every station in a single day — and find out which gaps to be especially mindful of. 3.2 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History, Travel
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-1846684777
Publisher Profile
 

Why is the Victoria Line so hot? What is an Electrical Multiple Unit? Is it really possible to ride from Kings Cross to Kings Cross on the Circle line? The London Underground is the oldest, most sprawling and illogical metropolitan transport system in the world, the result of a series of botch-jobs and improvisations. Yet it transports over one billion passengers every year — and this figure is rising. It is iconic, recognised the world over, and loved and despised by Londoners in equal measure. Blending reportage, humour and personal encounters, Andrew Martin embarks on a social history of London's underground railway system (which despite its name, is in fact fifty five per cent overground). Along the way he attempts to untangle the mess that is the Northern Line, visit every station in a single day — and find out which gaps to be especially mindful of.

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Reviews

The Spectator

Mark Mason

Excellent … What could be dry-as-dust history is brought to life by social detail, such as the young men who used to watch ventilation grilles on the Euston Road, where passing Metropolitan Line trains raised the skirts of unsuspecting women.

28/04/2012

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The Independent

Jonathan Sale

Highly engaging … He reminds us that when we say "Underground", we should be aware that just over half of the system is in fact overground. And when we say "Tube", we should know that traditionally this applied only to the lines in deep tunnels like the Piccadilly, as opposed to the District and other "cut-and-cover" lines.

05/05/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Tom Fort

Others have trod this path before … But Martin has a lot more fun with it than most, perhaps because he regards himself as a participant in the daily drama rather than a neutral observer of it ... Inevitably, the postwar phase lacks fizz. The building of the Victoria and Jubilee lines and the introduction of automated ticket barriers cannot really compare for colour with the pioneering thrust of the Metropolitan Line to Chesham and Amersham and the resulting creation of Metroland.

01/05/2012

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The Sunday Times

Andrew Holgate

[A] jaunty but jaundiced history ... Martin is not just a train enthusiast but an accomplished crime novelist, and he can occasionally stop you in your tracks with a well-turned phrase. But his grasp of historical detail can feel vague, and his journeys into the nether regions of name changes and station livery are sometimes just too trainspotterish (matters are not helped by the lack of any Tube map in the book, from any era).

22/04/2012

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The Evening Standard

Andrew Neather

Martin’s knowledge is both encyclopaedic and full of quirky digressions … I would have liked more detail on the past 15 years, when the network once more faced up to the engineering — and financial — challenges so gamely tackled by the Victorians, but that is perhaps another story.

26/04/2012

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The Financial Times

Rose Jacobs

Martin, an author and a journalist who wrote a column for the Evening Standard about the Tube in the late 1990s, is no Underground apologist. He earns the lay reader’s trust by dismissing as awful a number of novels and films set on the Tube, and keeps it by admitting the foibles of this cobbled-together system, on which we creak around sharp bends because the private companies that built the lines tried to run them under public streets, to avoid paying landowners for their freeholds.

28/04/2012

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