The methods of handling the travel and traffic in the city of London form a very interesting subject for the study of the engineer. The problem of rapid transit and transportation for a city of five millions of inhabitants is naturally very complicated, and a very difficult one to solve satisfactorily.

The subject may be discussed under two divisions: first, how the suburban travel is accommodated, that is, the great mass of people who come into the business section of the city every morning and leave at night; second, how the strictly local traffic from one point to another is provided for. Under the first division it will be noted in advance that London is well provided with suburban railroad accommodation upon through lines radiating in every direction from the center of the city, but the terminal stations of these roads, as a rule, do not penetrate far enough into the heart of the city to provide for the suburban travel without some additional methods of conveyance.

The underground railroad system is intended to relieve the traffic upon the main thoroughfares, affording a rapid method of transportation between the residential and business portions, and in addition to form a communicating link between the terminals of the roads referred to. These terminal stations are arranged in the form of an irregular ellipse and are eleven in number.

One of the most noticeable features of the underground system in London is that it connects these stations by means of a continuous circuit, or "circle," as it is there called. The line connecting the terminal stations is called the "inner circle." There is also an extension at one end of this elliptical shaped circle which also makes a complete circuit, and which is called the "middle circle," and a very much larger circle reaching the northern portions of the city, which is called the "outer circle." The eastern ends of these three circles run for a considerable distance on the same track. In addition to this the road branches off in a number of directions, reaching those parts of the city which were not before accommodated by the surface roads, or more properly the elevated or depressed roads, as there are no grade crossings.

With regard to the accommodation afforded by this system: it is a convenience for the residents of the western and southern parts of London, especially where they arrive in the city at any of the terminal stations on the line of the "circle," as they can change to the underground. They can reach the eastern end of the "circle," at which place is located the bank and the financial section of London, in a comparatively short time. For example, passengers arriving at Charing Cross, Victoria or Paddington stations, can change to the underground, and in ten, fifteen and thirty minutes respectively, reach the Mansion House or Cannon street stations, which are the nearest to the Bank of England. In a similar manner those arriving at Euston, St. Pancras or King's Cross on the northern side of the "circle," can reach Broad Street station in ten or fifteen minutes, which station is nearest the bank on that side of the "circle."

In a number of cases the underground station is in the same building or directly connected by passages with the terminal stations of the roads leading into the city. Examples of this kind would be such stations as Cannon Street, Victoria or Paddington. They are not, however, sufficiently convenient to allow the transference of baggage so as to accommodate through passengers desiring to make connection from one station to another across the city. Hand baggage only is carried, about the same as it is on the elevated road in New York. The method of cross town transfer, passengers and baggage, is invariably done by small omnibuses, which all the railroads maintain on hand for that special purpose. A very large proportion of the travel, however, if not the largest, is obtained by direct communication by means of the "circle" on branch lines with the various residential portions of north, west and south London.

Approximately on the underground railroad the fare is one cent per mile for third class, one cent and a half for second class, and two cents for first class, but no fare is less than a penny, or two cents. Omnibus fares in some instances are as low as a penny for two miles. This is not by any means the rule, and is only to be found on competing lines. The average fare would be a penny a mile or more.

The fares on the main lines which accommodate the suburban traffic are somewhat higher than on the underground, perhaps 50 per cent. more. In every case, on omnibus, tram cars or railroads, the rates are charged according to distance. The system such as in use on our electric, cable and horse cars and on the elevated road in New York, of charging a fixed fare, is not in use anywhere.

The ticket offices of the underground roads are generally on a level with the street. In some instances both the uptown and downtown trains are approached from one entrance, but generally there is an entrance at either side of the railroad, similar to the elevated railroad system. In purchasing a ticket, the destination, number of the class, and whether it is a single or return ticket have to be given. The passenger then descends by generally well lighted stairways to the station below, and his ticket is punched by the man at the gate. He then has to be careful about two things; first, to place himself on that part of the platform where the particular class which he wishes to take stops, and secondly, to get on to the right train. In the formation of the train the first class coaches are placed in the center, the second and third class respectively at the front and rear end. There are signs which indicate where passengers are to wait, according to the class. There is a sign at the front end of the engine, which to those initiated sufficiently indicates the destination of the train. The trains are also called out, and at some stations there is an obscure indicator which also gives the desired information.