Mapped: The grimiest parts of London’s Tube network

Nina Edy
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London Underground train arriving into platform
The cleanest route on London's underground network is the Hammersmith and City line (Source: Getty)

Ever resisted holding on to handrails on the Tube because of the prospect of germs, even if it means you find yourself stumbling around every time the train judders?

You might be on to something: new analysis has revealed London’s germiest Tube lines - and the Northern Line takes top spot with almost three times more germs than its nearest competitor.

Researchers measured bacteria levels or colony-forming units (CFU) - referring to the number of viable bacteria cells that thrive - per 10 centimetres squared.

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The team swabbed a total of 60 surfaces along the busiest lines, and the results are probably grosser than you thought.

While the Northern Line had 1,647 CFU per 10 sq cm, the Central Line came in second place with 597 CFU/10 sq cm, followed by the Bakerloo Line in third, which had a mere 117 CFU//10 sq cm.

The cleanest and safest line appeared to be the Hammersmith and City Line with only 18 CFU/10 sq cm.


You might want to avoid using escalator handrails at Bank, Monument, Liverpool Street and Oxford Circus, as they were found to be the most germ-ridden. Although we should also point out TfL recommends using them for your safety, so there's a compromise to be made somewhere...

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Surfaces were also tested during the research, and touch screen ticket machines were found to be the most germ-laden.

Stratford station's screens were home to the highest number of germs, while Victoria station came in second with Waterloo in last.

The least grimey poles on tube carriages, meanwhile, were ceiling poles, so you may want to stretch for those the next time you get on the underground.

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Stratford station was found to be the dirtiest over all, while Monument and Bank were in joint second place. Watch out, City workers...