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Interfaces of UUMI and its environment

During the ongoing research 2007-2019, many and various interfaces of urban underground metro infrastructure (UUMI) and its environment were identified. Many were typical occurrences of UUMI across the world, others appeared to be unique. 

At the bottom of this page are links to example case studies of UUMI interfacing with its environment. Each case study is a simple representation of why it is essential to develop a standardised process of analysis and sharing of data between interfacing stakeholders to ensure effective urban management.

Context of the examples

Metro systems “are designed to serve travel corridors where demand is heavy and are particularly suitable for inner urban areas or linking high density population centres to city centres” (Institution of Civil Engineers, 1987, p.11). Where the metro infrastructure is predominantly located below ground, there can be a misconception that it is "out of sight, and out of mind” and that it does not affect its environment. This page considers examples of UUMI within the urban environments of London and Glasgow, UK, and New York, US.

Fig.1, shows a plan of the London Underground (LU) UUMI within the Kings Cross/St Pancras area, Euston Road, London, UK. The grey shaded areas and coloured dashed lines represent LU UUMI:

  • dashed purple, shaded grey – the sub-surface (0.2-5m below ground level) Metropolitan line;

  • dashed black – the centre line of the northern line tube  tunnels (10m-35m below ground level);

  • dashed light blue – the centre line of the Victoria line;

  • dashed dark blue – the centre line of the Piccadilly line.

Note how the UUMI is located under the public highway and other urban infrastructure (buildings, other railway infrastructure), not a common interpretation of the London underground network.

Fig.1: Plan showing the presence of LU metro infrastructure in the Kings Cross/St Pancras area of Euston Road, London, overlaid on OS mapping. Source: London Underground.


To demonstrate how UUMI interfaces with its environment in the short and long-terms, this page presents some specific examples of how UUMI interfaces with its environment. These examples are used to demonstrate how, when, where, and why those interfaces must be comprehended, accommodated, and managed effectively within densifying urban environments, internationally.

While the following examples of the interfaces between UUMI and its environment have a UK base, the 2014-2019 research identified that these occurrences happen internationally, and that the interfaces also occur for other forms of transport and urban infrastructure (e.g., surface railways/highways. tramways, utilities tunnels, buildings etc.).

   Findings from the 2014-2019 research

The research between 2014 and 2019, considered the interfaces of UUMI and its environment in Glasgow, internationally, and especially in London. Table 1, shows over 40 different occurrences of the interfaces within TfL Fare Zone 1 (the un-shaded central area within Fig.2), identified through the London case studies (Darroch, 2020). These 40 occurrences were representative of other occurrences across TfL Fare Zone 1.

Fig.2: Extract from London Underground tube map, with TfL Fare Zone 1 in the centre, un-shaded. Source: TfL, undated.


The four most common occurrences of the interfaces were identified to be:

  1. UUMI within its own environment (an open cutting (Figs.2-5);

  2. UUMI under highway (Figs.1 and 7);

  3. UUMI under buildings (Figs.1, 2-9);

  4. UUMI within a building (I.e., an entrance to a metro station within an office/residential building (Fig.10).

To understand these interfaces further, a sample of 20 of the occurrences were taken for further application of the conceptual framework, developed through the research, and analysis of the findings (Darroch, 2020, pp.28-288). The choices for further analysis were based on interest, peculiarity of occurrence, and as representatives of other occurrences in London, and internationally. Table 2, shows the 20 occurrences of UUMI interface chosen for further analysis (Darroch, 2020).

The following simple case studies present some of the considerations required for sustainable urban management, now and for the future:

(Click on a link to read more)

  1. Sub-surface UUMI under a building, London, UK;

  2. Tube-railway UUMI under the British Library, Euston Road, London, UK;

  3. Surface UUMI at Kelvinhall, Glasgow Scotland, UK;

  4. New York Subway, Times Square, US;

  5. A modern long-term effect of UUMI on its surface environment, London, UK;

  6. An affect of not undertaking multi-disciplinary analysis of the interfaces, London, UK.

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