London Underground: The popular “Tube” service that has nothing to do with the current underground
Heard the one on the metro that is not on the metro map? No, it’s not a ghost train. It’s not even a train!
This tube service is actually a double-decker express coach line, which passes through several London Underground stations on its way to and from Victoria.
The ‘Oxford Tube’ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, connecting central London, Shepherd’s Bush, Hillingdon and the university town of Oxford, directly along the M40 motorway.
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This is the most frequent and one of the oldest coach routes still connecting London and the Home Counties. Much like a metro line, it operates with only a few detours and runs every 12 minutes – impressive for such a long distance route.
Oxford to London is a very competitive transport route. Even before the arrival of the M40 motorway in the late 1960s, coach and rail companies competed in the 1920s between the tourist, academic and popular cultural hub of Oxford and the capital.
The Chiltern Hills form a natural barrier between Oxford and London, meaning that train routes had to cross valleys instead of directly crossing hills like the road network does. This means that coaches can be faster than trains to the eastern part of Oxford.
The Oxford Tube was born in 1987 after the Thatcher government deregulated buses outside of London in 1985. This meant that bus companies could go to war to steal passengers and that is exactly what happened along this road.
A rival route called the X90 (or “Oxford Express”) offered almost double service although there were different stops in London. As Oxford acquired a new university in 1992 with Oxford Brookes and London’s population exploded in the early 2000s, passenger numbers increased.
In 2016, a new Chiltern Railways train service meant that in addition to a coach war there was also a train war, meaning that Oxford has very competitive ticket prices for the four different routes to London.
It took passengers from the buses. In 2020, Oxford Tube rival the X90 dropped out due to the impact of declining passenger numbers and Covid on its operations. This meant that after 33 years Oxford Tube was the last man standing.
An unusual feature of the route is that, although it is a long distance service, you can use it to travel alone in London. Unlike the Metropolitan Line or the Piccadilly Line which take roundabout routes through North West London, the Oxford Underground runs directly down the A40 to Hillingdon.
It takes approximately 45 minutes, which is a journey on the Jubilee / Metropolitan Line from Oxford Street and over 51 minutes on the Piccadilly Line from Hyde Park Corner.
A ticket from Hillingdon to central London costs £ 4.10 one way and £ 6.70 return.
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Between London and Oxford, coaches also stop at Lewknor Turn, a small road junction in the middle of the Chiltern countryside. This means that the nearby village with a population of around 700 (more people only live on Finchley Road) receives an astonishing five coaches per hour and a direct night service to central London on weekends.
This is even more common than parts of the Bakerloo, Central, District, Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines!
The 57 mile trip is more than double the longer TfL route, but is not a patch of the 2,000 miles you can also take from Victoria to the Romania-Moldova border.
Length and width
The cars used on the Oxford tube are huge. They are so large that the extra coaches that are no longer needed for the route have been converted to double-decker vaccination centers, like the old bendy buses in London.
Plaxton Panorama coaches with 460hp Volvo engines feature USB ports, free Wi-Fi, reclining seats and even reading lights, which means the trip is a bit more enjoyable than a real one. metro ride.
The 14.5-meter-long coaches are often used as tour buses by musical groups and sports teams due to their high specifications.
Have you ever made the trip on the Oxford tube? What do you think of the name? Let us know in the comments below!
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