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The first electrified underground urban railway, City & South London Railway, opened in 1890, in deep tubular tunnels, leading to the term "tube", which eventually became synonymous with the London Underground.It was originally planned to be cable-hauled, but the company originally contracted to supply cable-haulage technology went bankrupt.Before any plans were made for transit systems with underground tunnels and stations, several railway operators had used tunnels for freight and passenger trains, usually to reduce the grade of the railway line.Examples include Trevithick's Tunnel from 1804, built for the Penydarren locomotive, the 1829 Crown Street Tunnel at Liverpool and the 1.13 mile (1,811 meters) long 1836 Lime Street Tunnel also at Liverpool, part of which is still used today making it the world's oldest used tunnel.Rapid transit first began in London with the opening in 1863 of the Metropolitan Railway, which is now part of the London Underground.
In the 21st century, China became the world's leader by number of rapid transit systems as well as the fastest growth of such systems, and many other cities in other Asian countries also began construction on their own metropolitan transit systems.It was worked by steam trains, and despite the creation of numerous vents, was unhealthy and uncomfortable for passengers and operating staff.Nevertheless, its trains were popular from the start and the Metropolitan Railway and the competing Metropolitan District Railway developed the inner circle around central London (completed in 1884) and an extensive system of suburban branches to the northwest (extending into the adjoining countryside), the west, the southwest and the east (mostly completed by 1904).In 1898 the technically out-dated two line Vienna Metropolitan Railway in Vienna was opened, which was operated by steam trains.
The system was converted to a modern underground railway in 1978. Its full name was the Chemin de Fer Métropolitain, a direct translation into French of London's Metropolitan Railway.
Car #18 is preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum.