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Piccadilly line

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Piccadilly line
Piccadilly line flag box.svg
RUSSELL SQUARE-14 020909 CPS (3998135457).jpg
A Piccadilly line train at Russell Square
Colour on mapDark blue Edit this at Wikidata
TypeRapid transit
SystemLondon Underground
Rolling stock1973 Stock
Ridership210.169 million (2011/12)[2] passenger journeys
Opened15 December 1906; 114 years ago (1906-12-15)
Last extension27 March 2008
Line length45.96 mi (73.97 km)
CharacterDeep Tube
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Transport for London rail lines
London Underground
Hammersmith & City
Waterloo & City
Other systems
London Overground
London Trams
TfL Rail

The Piccadilly line is a deep level London Underground line running from the north to the west of London. It has two branches, which split at Acton Town, and serves 53 stations. The line serves Heathrow Airport, and is near popular attractions such as Buckingham Palace. The District and Metropolitan lines share some sections of tracks with the Piccadilly line. Coloured dark blue (officially "Corporate Blue", Pantone 072) on the Tube map, it is the fourth-busiest line on the Underground network with over 210 million passenger journeys in 2011/12.

The first section, between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith, was opened in 1906 as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR). The station tunnels and buildings were designed by Leslie Green, featuring ox-blood terracotta facades with semi-circular windows on the first floor. When Underground Electric Railways of London (UERL) took over the line, it was renamed the Piccadilly line. Subsequent extensions were made to Cockfosters, Hounslow West and Uxbridge in the early 1930s, when many existing stations on the Uxbridge and Hounslow branches were rebuilt to designs by Charles Holden, part of the Adams, Holden & Pearson architectural practice. These were generally rectangular, with brick bases and large tiled windows, topped with a concrete slab roof. The western extensions took over existing District line services, which were fully withdrawn in 1964.

Stations in central London were rebuilt to cater to higher volumes of passenger traffic. To prepare for World War II, some stations were equipped with shelters and basic amenities; others were equipped with blast walls. Construction of the Victoria line, the first section of which was opened in 1968, helped to relieve congestion on the Piccadilly line, but some sections of the Piccadilly had to be rerouted for cross-platform interchange with the new line. Several plans were made to extend the Piccadilly line to serve Heathrow Airport. The earliest approval was given in 1967, and the Heathrow extension opened in stages between 1975 and 1977. This extension served only Terminals 2 and 3 and the former Terminal 1. The line was extended again twice, to Terminal 4 via a loop in 1986, and to Terminal 5 directly from the main terminal station in 2008.

This line has two depots, at Northfields and Cockfosters, with a group of sidings at several locations. Crossovers are at a number of locations, with some allowing for trains to switch onto different lines. The Piccadilly line once had its electricity generated from Lots Road Power Station. It was, however, taken out of use in 2003, leaving the line with supply from the National Grid Network. The 1973 Stock serves the tube line, where 78 of these are needed to have a 24 trains per hour (tph) (a train every 2+12 minutes) service during peak hours. These are due to be replaced by the New Tube for London (NTfL) trains in the 2020s.


The Piccadilly line is a 45.96 mi (73.97 km) long North — West line, which consists of two branches splitting at Acton Town, serving 53 stations.[1][3] Cockfosters is a four-platform three-track terminus, and the line runs at-grade to just south of Oakwood. Southgate station is in tunnel, with tunnel portals to the north and south. Due to the difference in terrain, a viaduct carries the tracks through Arnos Park to Arnos Grove.[4] The line then descends into twin tube tunnels, passing through Wood Green, Finsbury Park and central London. The lattermost area contains a few stations that are close to popular attractions, such as the London Transport Museum, Harrods, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus.[5][6] The 15.3km tunnel ends east of Barons Court, where the line continues west, parallel to the District line, to Acton Town. A flying junction, in use since 10 February 1910, separates trains going to the Heathrow branch from the Uxbridge branch.[7][8]

The Heathrow branch remains at surface level until the eastern approach to Hounslow West station, where it enters a cut-and-cover tunnel. West of Hatton Cross the line enters tube tunnels to Heathrow Airport; via the Terminal 4 loop or through to Terminal 5.[9] On the Uxbridge branch, it shares tracks with the District line between Acton Town and south of North Ealing. The line traverses terrain with cuttings and embankments, and continues to Uxbridge, sharing tracks with the Metropolitan line between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge.[10] The distance between Cockfosters and Uxbridge is 31.6 mi (50.9 km).[11]


Geographically accurate path of the Piccadilly line


The Piccadilly line began as the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (GNP&BR), one of several railways controlled by the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL), whose chief director was Charles Tyson Yerkes,[12] although he died before the first section of the line opened. It currently runs on tracks built by The GNP&BR, the District Railway (DR) and the Metropolitan Railway (Met), and received major extensions in the 1930s and 1970s.

The GNP&BR was formed from the merger of two earlier, but unbuilt,[13] tube-railway companies taken over in 1901 by Yerkes' consortium: the Great Northern & Strand Railway (GN&SR) and the Brompton & Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR).[14] The GN&SR's and B&PCR's separate routes were linked with an additional section between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn. A section of the DR's scheme for a deep-level tube line between South Kensington and Earl's Court was also added in order to complete the route.[note 1] This finalised route, between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith stations, was formally opened on 15 December 1906.[17] On 30 November 1907, the short branch from Holborn to the Strand (later renamed Aldwych) opened; it had been planned as the last section of the GN&SR before the amalgamation with the B&PCR.[18]

Initial ridership growth was low due to the popularity of new electric trams and motor buses. Financial stability was an issue, and as a result the company heavily promoted their railways via a new management team. UERL also agreed with other independent railway companies such as the Central London Railway (CLR, now part of the Central line) to jointly advertise a combined network known as the Underground.[19][20] On 1 July 1910, the GNP&BR and the other UERL-owned tube railways (the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway and the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway) were merged by private Act of Parliament[21] to become the London Electric Railway Company (LER).[note 2] The Underground railways still suffered financial issues,[23] and to address this, the London Passenger Transport Board was established on 1 July 1933.[24][25]

There were a number of notable station layout changes in the 1910s and 1920s. On 4 October 1911, Earl's Court had new escalators installed connecting the District and Piccadilly lines. They were the first to be installed on the Underground.[22][26] On 10 December 1928, a rebuilt Piccadilly Circus station, designed by Charles Holden,[27] was opened. This included a new booking hall located below ground and eleven escalators, replacing the original lifts.[28][note 3]

One of the shafts at Holloway Road station was used as an experiment for spiral escalators, but never used.[30] An experiment to encourage passengers to step on the escalator three at a time at Manor House station was trialled.[31] It failed due to opposition and potential dangers pointed out by the public.[31]

Extension to Cockfosters[]

One of the ventilation panels at Wood Green station platforms.

While early plans to serve Wood Green (specifically Alexandra Palace) existed since the 1890s as part of the GN&SR,[32][33] this section to Finsbury Park was later dropped from the GNP&BR proposal in 1902 when the GN&SR was merged with the B&PCR.[34][35] In 1902, as part of an agreement for taking over the GN&SR, the Great Northern Railway (GNR) imposed a sanction on Yerkes to abandon the section north of Finsbury Park and they would construct the terminus below ground.[35][36][37][38] Finsbury Park remained as an overcrowded terminus of the line, and was described as "intolerable". Many passengers arriving at both stations had to change onto buses, trams, and suburban rail services to complete their journeys further north.[39][note 4] The GNR attempted to address this issue by considering electrification several times, but to no avail due to shortage of funds. Meanwhile, the LER proposed an extension in 1920 but was overruled by the GNR, which was widely regarded as "unreasonable". In 1923, a petition by the Middlesex Federation of Ratepayers to repeal the 1902 parliamentary act emerged. It was reported that a "fierce exchange of arguments" occurred during a parliament session in March 1924 to request this change.[40][38] Frank Pick, as the new assistant managing director of the Underground, distributed photographs of the congestion at Finsbury Park to the press. All of this pressure finally prompted the government to initiate "The North and North-East London Traffic Inquiry", with initial reports only recommending a one-station extension to Manor House. The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), being the successor of the GNR, was placed in the position of electrifying its own services or withdrawing its veto of an extension of the Piccadilly line. With funds still being insufficient to electrify the railway, the LNER reluctantly agreed to the latter.[37] An extension was highly likely at this stage, based on a study in October 1925 by the London & Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee.[41][42]

Pick, together with the Underground board began working on the extension proposal. Much pressure was also received from a few districts such as Tottenham and Harringay, but it was decided that the optimal route would be the midpoint of the GNR and the Hertford Line.[note 5] This was backed by the committee, and parliamentary approval for the extension was obtained on 4 June 1930, under the London Electric Metropolitan District Central London and City and South London Railway Companies Act, 1930.[43][44][note 6] Funding was obtained from legislation under the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act instead of the Trade Facilities Act. The extension would pass through Manor House, Wood Green and Southgate, ending at Enfield West (now Oakwood);[46][note 7] based on the absence of property development along the line. In November 1929, the projected terminus was shifted further north to Cockfosters to accommodate a larger depot. It was estimated that ridership on the extension, which would cost £4.4 million, would be 36 million passengers a year.[45] In addition to Enfield West, stations were designated at Southgate, Arnos Grove, Bounds Green, Wood Green, Turnpike Lane, and Manor House. Bounds Green station was almost cancelled in order to improve journey times.[49] A more expensive provision was rejected, which included construction of a third track between Finsbury Park and Wood Green and an additional station at St. Ann's Road.[50][44]

Tunnel rings, cabling and concrete were produced in Northern England, while unemployed industrial workers there helped in the construction of the extension. Construction of the extension started quickly, with the boring of the twin tube tunnels between Arnos Grove and Finsbury Park proceeding at the rate of a mile per month. 22 tunnelling shields were used for the tunnels,[51] and tunnel diameters were slightly larger than the old section, at 12 ft (3.7 m). Sharp curves were also avoided to promote higher average speeds on the extension. 400 ft (120 m) long platforms were originally planned for each station to fit 8-car trains, but were cut short to 385 ft when built. Some stations were also built with wider platform tunnels to cater to expected high patronage. To connect with buses and trams, interchange stations were provided with exits which led passengers directly to the bus terminal or tram stop from the subsurface ticket hall. The exits were purposed to improve connections which avoided chaotic passenger flow such as at Finsbury Park. Wood Green was an exception due to engineering difficulties, with the ticket hall at street level instead. Ventilation shafts were provided at Finsbury Park Tennis Courts, Colina Road and Nightingale Road, supplementing the existing fans within the stations. Provisions for future branch lines to Enfield and Tottenham were made at Wood Green and Manor House respectively, both to have reversing sidings. This had since changed, with only a reversing siding built at Wood Green and no provision for the branch line. Arnos Grove was built to have four platforms facing three tracks for trains to reverse regularly, with seven stabling sidings instead of one reversing siding and two platforms.[52][53][54]

Most of the tunnelling works were completed by October 1931, with the Wood Green and Bounds Green station tunnels done by the end of the year.[44] The first phase of the extension to Arnos Grove opened on 19 September 1932, without ceremony. The line was further extended to Enfield West on 13 March 1933 and finally to Cockfosters on 31 July 1933, again without ceremonies.[42][55] The total length of the extension was 7.6 mi (12.3 km).[3] Free tickets were distributed to residents on the first days of service on each extension. Initial ridership was 25 million at the end of 1933, which sharply increased to 70 million by 1951.[56] Despite there being no official opening ceremonies, then Prince of Wales visited the extension on 14 February 1933.[57][note 8]

Westward extensions[]

The Hounslow West (then Hounslow Barracks) extension of the Piccadilly line, together with the Uxbridge extension, aimed to improve services on the District line which at the time were serving both branches from Acton Town (then Mill Hill Park).[59][note 9] The Uxbridge extension followed along existing routes on the DR and Met. The DR opened a short spur from Ealing Common to South Harrow in June 1903. The Met opened its extension to Uxbridge in July 1904.[61] Through trains of the DR were eventually extended to Uxbridge on 1 March 1910, henceforth sharing tracks with the Met between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge.[62][note 10]

The viaduct from Studland Road (now Studland Street) Junction west of Hammersmith to Turnham Green was quadrupled on 3 November 1911. The London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) used the northern pair of tracks while the District Railway used the southern pair.[65] The LER proposed an extension in November 1912 to Richmond due to available capacity to the west and the fact that passenger interchanges were large at Hammersmith. It would connect with the L&SWR tracks at Turnham Green.[66] It was approved as the London Electric Railway Act, 1913 on 15 August 1913,[67] but the emergence of World War I resulted in no works done on the extension.[68] A Parliamentary report of 1919 recommended through running to Richmond and Ealing.[69] The Richmond extension plan was revived in 1922 by Lord Ashfield, the Underground's chairman. It was decided that the Piccadilly line extension was favourable over the CLR's as it was cheaper and had more capacity available.[70][note 11] By 1925, the District line was running out of capacity west of Hammersmith, where services were headed to South Harrow, Hounslow Barracks, Richmond and Ealing Broadway. Demand was also low on the South Harrow branch because of infrequent services and competition among other rail lines in the vicinity of each station. This prompted the Piccadilly line extension to be an express service between Hammersmith and Acton Town, with the future Heathrow Airport extension safeguarded in 40 years' time.[73] The Piccadilly line would run on the inner pair of tracks, and the District line on the outer.[69] Permission was granted to quadruple tracks to Acton Town in 1926 in conjunction with permit renewal for the extension. The Richmond extension never happened, but provisions allocated would allow this option to be revisited later.[74] Extensions would instead be to Hounslow Barracks and South Harrow, taking over DR services to the latter, with an estimated cost of £2.3 million.[75][note 12] In 1930, unsuccessful negotiations were made between LER and the Met to extend Piccadilly line trains to Rayners Lane for passengers to change trains.[77]

In 1929, quadrupling was to extend to Northfields for express trains to terminate here. This work was completed on 18 December 1932. Overall works for the extension began in 1931, approximately a year after permission was granted and funded under the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act of 1929. The Studland Road Junction area was partially rebuilt, with some of the old viaducts retained to date. The junctions diverging to Richmond were reconfigured at Turnham Green. Reversing facilities were initially designated at the latter, but these were not built.[78] Trial runs of Piccadilly line trains began on 27 June 1932. On 4 July 1932, services were extended to South Harrow, which replaced DR services. Northfields services were introduced on 9 January 1933, and on 13 March, were extended to Hounslow West. On 1 July 1933, the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) was formed, which included the Met, the DR and LER.[24] The board decided that there was sufficient demand to run through trains to Uxbridge due to rapidly developing suburbs along the line. The extension of Piccadilly line trains to Uxbridge began on 23 October 1933, but with many trains still reversing at South Harrow. By then, most Piccadilly line trains continued beyond Hammersmith, and District line trains to Hounslow were reduced to off-peak shuttles to Acton Town. An enhanced off-peak Piccadilly line service was introduced on 29 April 1935, cutting off-peak District line services down to the Acton Town — South Acton shuttle.[79] South Harrow short trips proved to be an inconvenience. The solution was to move reversing facilities to Rayners Lane. A new reversing siding was built there in 1935, which allowed some peak hour trains to terminate beginning in May 1936. Regular reversals were fully implemented in October 1943.[80] Peak-hour District line trains to Hounslow were fully withdrawn on 9 October 1964.[81]

Modernisation, World War II and Victoria line[]

In conjunction with the new extensions, several stations were considered for closure to increase overall line speeds. Down Street closed on 21 May 1932, Brompton Road on 29 July 1934, and York Road on 17 September 1932.[55][82] All three stations were lightly used, with Down Street and Brompton Road replaced by relocated entrances of Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge respectively. Notably, Knightsbridge's new below-ground ticket hall required stairwells from the entrance, one of which took over part of the Barclays Bank branch there. Both of the latter two stations retained their existing platforms, but the access from the surface was reconstructed with their entrances closer to the closed stations. These new entrances were provided with escalators, which replaced the lifts, improving passenger circulation. The Aldwych branch was deemed unprofitable, and in 1929 an extension to Waterloo was approved, costed at £750,000. No progress was made on the extension. Dover Street (now Green Park), Leicester Square and Holborn stations received new sets of escalators, with the lattermost having four in a single shaft. These were completed in the early 1930s.[83][84][85] As part of the 1935–40 New Works Programme, Earl's Court was largely reconstructed at street level. At King's Cross St. Pancras, the Piccadilly and Northern lines were finally connected via new escalators, albeit with construction delayed due to financial difficulties.[86][note 13] As a result, Russell Square station retained its lifts.[88]

To prepare for World War II, several stations had blast walls added. Others, such as Green Park, Knightsbridge and King's Cross St. Pancras, had floodgates installed. The line was also involved in the evacuation of 200,000 children, by transporting them towards both ends of the line, then transferring them to mainline trains to continue their journeys to different country distribution hubs.[89] Some underground stations were fitted with bunk beds, toilets and first aid facilities, and sewerage. The disused Down Street was converted to an underground bunker for government use.[90] Other stations such as Holborn and Earl's Court also had essential wartime uses. The former had the Aldwych branch platforms as the wartime engineering quarters whilst the branch service was temporarily closed.[91] The latter produced Torpedo Data Computers at the transfer concourse between the District and Piccadilly lines.[89] Aldwych station was used as storage for British Museum exhibits.[91] On 13 October 1940, a bomb explosion caused the westbound platform tunnel at Bounds Green station to collapse, killing 19 shelterers. Train services were suspended for two months.[92][93]

Reconfiguration of tunnels and platforms at Finsbury Park

In preparation for the Victoria line, cross-platform interchange was to be provided at a few stations, which included Finsbury Park on the Piccadilly line.[94] This meant that the Piccadilly line had to be realigned there, and the Northern City line platforms, being parallel to the existing Piccadilly line platforms, were to be transferred to the pair of lines. The Northern City line would be redirected to the surface platforms. The westbound Piccadilly line track would be rerouted onto one of these platforms, with the southbound Victoria line using the other. The northbound Victoria line would reuse the old westbound Piccadilly line platform and a part of the old tunnels, with the Piccadilly line diversion tunnels spanning 3,150 ft (960 m).[95]

Construction of the diversion began in October 1964, with the Northern City line having a temporary closure.[96] At the northern junction, step plate junctions were built to divert the existing line when the new tunnels were complete. They were fitted into the original Northern City line tunnels which had a greater tunnel diameter until two running tunnels were able to merge. The old and unused running tunnel was disconnected and blocked off when the junction tunnel was near its completion. Alteration of temporary points junctions and shifting of signals completed the diversion tunnels. In the south, the Piccadilly would be diverted to descend sharply under the northbound Victoria line tunnel, and then ascending to the original level which had a difference of 5 ft approximately 200 ft (61 m) north of Arsenal station. The old westbound tunnel had to be supported on a trestle for works to be done. The trestle and old tracks were entirely removed once the diversion was ready for switchover. New tracks were laid at a rapid rate which were done in about 13 hours on 3 October 1965.[95] Both lines were connected via junctions south of Finsbury Park for stock movement and engineering trains. It was intended for Green Park to have cross-platform interchange, but was deemed impossible due to the lines crossing at right angles. The Victoria line opened on 1 September 1968 from Walthamstow Central to Highbury & Islington via Finsbury Park, and on 7 March 1969 to Warren Street via King's Cross St. Pancras,[97] providing relief to the Piccadilly line.[98]

Extension to Heathrow Airport[]

Inside a Piccadilly line carriage

To cater to the rapid growth of road traffic to Heathrow Airport, several rail lines were considered to serve the airport. An average increment of 1 million passengers a year between 1953 and 1973, and rising issues with airline coach services from major terminals due to location, traffic congestion, larger aircraft capacity and increasing leisure travel further increased the need for public transport connections. Other than the Piccadilly line extension from Hounslow West,[note 14] a Southern Railway spur (section now transferred to part of South Western Railway) from Feltham was also contemplated. These schemes were brought into parliamentary discussion in November 1966, and were approved with the Royal Assent as the London Transport Act 1967 and British Railways Act 1967 respectively on 27 July 1967.[100] Partial government funding was obtained in April 1972 for the 3.5 mi (5.6 km) Piccadilly line extension, and the estimated cost of construction was £12.3 million.[101]

On 27 April 1971, a construction ceremony was launched by Sir Desmond Plummer, leader of the Greater London Council, by bulldozing "the first sod". Platforms at Hounslow West had to be relocated below-ground to the north of the existing for the new track alignment. The 1931 ticket hall was retained, with connections to the new platforms. A cut-and-cover excavation method was used between Hounslow West and Hatton Cross, a new station on the extension. This 2-mile section had a shallow trench dug, with the tunnel walls supported by intersecting concrete piles. The line had to cross River Crane just east of Hatton Cross, therefore it emerges briefly on a bridge, with the two portals having concrete retaining walls. Deep tube tunnels were bored from Hatton Cross to Heathrow Central (now Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3). On 19 July 1975, the line was extended to Hatton Cross.[102][note 15] The Heathrow Central extension was inaugurated by the Queen around noon on 16 December 1977, with revenue services commencing at 3pm.[104]

In the 1970s, planning was already underway for a fourth terminal for the airport, and its location was to be to the southeast of the existing terminals. As the Piccadilly line's route to the existing terminals was out of place, a loop track was adopted as the best method to serve the new terminal. The westbound track between Hatton Cross and Heathrow Central would be retained for emergency services. Permissions for constructing for the loop was approved and received Royal Assent under the London Transport Act 1981 on 30 October 1981.[105] On 19 July 1982, the original location of the station and track alignment were altered to compensate for the British Airport Authority (BAA) to finish the fourth terminal building which was behind schedule. Construction of the 2.5 mi (4.0 km) extension began on 9 February 1983, with an estimated cost of £24.6 million. Tunnelling for the loop was completed in 17 months. It was expected that the extension would open with the new terminal. However, the terminal opening was delayed, with the loop service completed and commissioned on 4 November 1985. The terminal and station were finally opened a few months later on 1 April 1986, by the Prince and then Princess of Wales. Regular traffic began 12 days later with trains serving Terminal 4 via a one-way loop, and then Terminals 1,2,3.[106] The station only has a single platform, and is the only one with this configuration on the Piccadilly line.[54]

The new Terminal 5 required another extension, funded by BAA. However, its alignment caused an alignment issue. It was reported that London Underground was unhappy with the terminal's location on the site of the old Perry Oaks sludge works which was originally intended for Terminal 4.[9] It was now impossible for all three terminals to be served on the same route, and the final solution was to have twin tunnels serving Terminal 5 from Terminals 1,2,3. From 7 January 2005 until 17 September 2006, the loop via Terminal 4 was closed to allow this connection to be built. Terminals 1,2,3 became a temporary terminus; shuttle buses served Terminal 4 from the Hatton Cross bus station.[107] Part of the junction between the through and loop tracks had to be rebuilt. The terminal 5 project team had to shut down two aircraft stands from Terminal 3 so that an access shaft could be constructed. The new junction was then built into a concrete box which connected all underground tunnels.[108] The station and terminal were opened on 27 March 2008, which made Piccadilly line services split into two main services; one via the Terminal 4 loop, another direct to Terminal 5.[109][110]

Notable incidents and events, Aldwych branch closure[]

Plans to extend the Aldwych branch south to Waterloo was revived a number of times during the station's life. The extension was considered in 1919 and 1948, but no progress towards constructing the link was made.[91]

Memorial plaque of the King's Cross fire erected at the station itself.

In the years after the Second World War, a series of preliminary plans for relieving congestion on the London Underground had considered various east–west routes through the Aldwych area, although other priorities meant that these were never proceeded with. In March 1965, a British Rail and London Transport joint planning committee published "A Railway Plan for London", which proposed a new tube railway, the Fleet line (later renamed the Jubilee line), to join the Bakerloo line at Baker Street then run via Aldwych and into the City of London before heading into south-east London. An interchange was proposed at Aldwych and a second recommendation of the report was the revival of the link from Aldwych to Waterloo.[111][112] London Transport had already sought parliamentary approval to construct tunnels from Aldwych to Waterloo in November 1964,[113] and in August 1965, parliamentary powers were granted. Detailed planning took place, although public spending cuts led to postponement of the scheme in 1967 before tenders were invited.[114]

With the Aldwych branch receiving no extensions, it remained a lightly used shuttle service from Holborn. The branch was considered for closure numerous times, but it survived.[115] Saturday services were fully withdrawn on 5 August 1962.[116] Maintenance costs of replacing the aged lifts were high at over £3 million, which failed to meet safety standards at the time. In August 1993, a public inquiry was held for closure of the short branch line. On 30 September 1994, the branch was closed to traffic.[note 16] The disused station is now used for commercial filming and as a training facility.[117]

On 18 November 1987, a massive fire broke out at King's Cross St. Pancras, where the incident was near the Northern / Piccadilly line escalators which killed 31 people.[118][119] As a result, wooden escalators were replaced at all Underground stations.[120][121][note 17] The Piccadilly line platforms remained opened, but with the escalators to the ticket hall closed for repairs. Access was temporarily via the Victoria line or Midland City platforms. New escalators were fully installed on 27 February 1989.[125]

On 7 July 2005, a Piccadilly line train was attacked by suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay.[126] The blast occurred at 08:50 BST while the train was between King's Cross St. Pancras and Russell Square. It was part of a co-ordinated Islamist terrorist attack on London's transport network, and was synchronised with three other attacks: two on the Circle line and one on a bus at Tavistock Square. The Piccadilly line bomb resulted in the largest number of fatalities, with 26 people reported killed. Owing to it being a deep-level line, evacuation of station users and access for the emergency services proved difficult.[127] Shuttle services had to be introduced between Hyde Park Corner and the Heathrow loop, between Acton Town and Rayners Lane, and between Arnos Grove and Cockfosters. Full service was restored on 4 August, four weeks after the bomb.[118][110]

On 15 December 2006, a 100-year celebration of the Piccadilly line was launched. A birthday card was revealed by Tim O'Toole, then London Underground Managing Director at Leicester Square station.[128]


A variety of architecture on Piccadilly line stations
Ox-blood terracotta with semicircular windows on first floor
Russell Square, by Leslie Green
A red brick rectangular box shaped building with a concrete roof and two pairs of glazed screens
Sudbury Town, the exemplar station
A low circular building with a wide awning is surmounted by a glazed column with a metal ball on the top
Southgate's unique roof by Holden
Passimeter in a station ticket hall
Arnos Grove with passimeter

Most of the deep level stations opened in the first phase between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith were built to a design by Leslie Green.[129] This consisted of two-storey steel-framed buildings faced with dark oxblood red glazed terracotta blocks, with wide semi-circular windows on the upper floor. Earl's Court and Barons Court stations was built with a red brick building by Harry Wharton Ford,[130] with semicircular windows on the second level and embedded names of the railways which operated through the station. Both station buildings are Grade II listed,[131][132] and this building design at the former replaced a wooden hut building.[133][134]

Extensions of the Piccadilly line towards the west and north in the 1930s had new stations designed by Charles Holden of Adams, Holden & Pearson architectural practice. These designs were inspired by modern architecture seen in a 1930 trip to a number of European Countries.[135][136]

Several stations on the western extension originally built by the District Railway were reconstructed. The new designs used brick, concrete and glass to construct simple geometrical shapes, such as cylinders and rectangles. The first prototype station was Sudbury Town station, which has a brick cuboid box topped with a concrete slab roof for the main structure, with tall windows above the entrances. This design was replicated across many other stations.[137] Due to the workload, some stations' designs were carried out as collaborations with the Underground's own Architect, Stanley Heaps (Boston Manor, Osterley, Ealing Common and Hounslow West), or architects from other practices (Reginald Uren for Rayner's Lane) or entirely by another practice in Holden's style (Felix Lander for Park Royal).[138][139] The new stations built for the northern extension were also part of the design schemes undertaken by Holden. Southgate was distinctively different, with a round base carrying a cylindrical panel of clerestory windows, topped by an illuminated feature with a bronze ball.[140] The ticket halls had passimeters, which functioned as free-standing ticket booths. Most of them went out of use when automatic ticket gates were introduced, although some have been converted for retail use.[141] Many of these Holden-designed stations are listed buildings, Oakwood, Southgate, and Arnos Grove being among the early receivers in 1971.[31][142][143][144]

Stations in Central London were modernised with a variety of changes. Green Park received a new shelter at the southern entrance; Piccadilly Circus had its ticket hall moved below street level. Both of these changes were designed by Holden,[145] with the latter's station ticket hall having artwork commemorating Frank Pick added in 2016.[146][147] Green Park also was built with a new entrance at a corner of Devonshire House, which has Portland Stone clad steel frames.[148] It features Graeco-Roman details, and is Grade II listed.[149] Some stations kept their original buildings. South Ealing, where a temporary wooden station ticket hall was constructed when the line was quadrupled, was an anomaly; a modern station was not provided until the 1980s.[150][151][note 18]

Green's stations such as Caledonian Road have bands of tiles arching overhead on the curved platform ceilings and above the tracks spaced 11–12 ft (3.4–3.7 m) apart. Along the platform walls, geometrical patterns of tiles were arranged in a horizontal band; varying among stations. Arc lighting was complemented with incandescent lamps to illuminate the platforms. Signage decorations, also designed by Green, present spelt out the station name in letters 15 in (38 cm) high.[152][153][129][note 19] Stations on the northern extension had particular biscuit (square) tiles on platform walls, with different frieze colours at each station. A few stations like Southgate and Bounds Green have art deco uplighters on escalators and the lower landings.[143][154] Floodlighting was used considerably to provide a spacious ambience. Ventilation ducts were by the platforms walls, sealed with bronze art deco style grilles.[155] Oakwood was built with a concrete canopy, with roof lights and cylindrical light fittings designed by Heaps.[144]


Signalling and electricity[]

Lots Road Power Station, disused and planned to be redeveloped

The line from Cockfosters to Heathrow and South Harrow is controlled from a control centre at South Kensington,[156] which replaced the old Earl's Court control centre, which was shared with the District line.[157] Rayners Lane signal cabin is responsible for signalling the Piccadilly line from just northwest of South Harrow to Uxbridge, as well as the Metropolitan line joining at Rayners Lane.[158] The signalling system is expected to be upgraded inline with the Deep Tube upgrade, which will increase line frequencies up to 33 tph.[156] Trains may also be able to make a permanent additional stop at Turnham Green following this upgrade.[159]

When the line was opened from Finsbury Park to Hammersmith, its signalling system was identical to the Bakerloo and District lines. Small cabins at each location of crossover installed controlled the signals there. Single lamps displayed track clearance in the form of green or red, with variations of yellow at difficult to spot locations. These equipment were supplied by Westinghouse, operated using compressed air. The exception was between West Kensington and Hammersmith, where it was controlled by District Railway signal boxes, and had semaphore signals instead.[160][161] The Piccadilly line extensions resulted in resignalling on tracks west of Barons Court. Signal cabins were adjusted and new ones were added at Hammersmith, Acton Town and Northfields. A mixture of semaphore and coloured light signals were used on the four-track section. Signalling were redone on the new Uxbridge branch.[162][note 20]

Speed control was introduced at several stations to enhance the signalling system after World War II. This enabled a train to proceed slowly into an occupied platform without stopping in front of another before it departed, thus improving headways. The last semaphore signal, at Ealing Common, was replaced in November 1953.[163] A control room was built at Earl's Court to centralise supervision of most of the line signalling in the 1960s, while Rayners Lane signal cabin was, and still is, the main control centre of the Rayners Lane to Uxbridge portion;[164] shared with the Metropolitan line.[54] 1930s automatic signalling equipment were updated in the 1970s and 1980s.[165]

The UERL built a large power station that would be capable of providing power for the District line and the underground lines planned. Work began in 1902 at Lots Road, by Chelsea Creek and in February 1905 Lots Road Power Station began generating electricity at 11 kV 33 1⁄3 Hz, conveyed by high voltage cables to substations that converted this to approximately 550V DC.[166] On the Piccadilly line, electricity was transmitted via underground ducts to Earl's Court, which was then distributed to different substations.[160][note 21] Power supply for the Cockfosters extension was initially generated by the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company at Wood Green.[167] It was later supplied by Lots Road station. The National Grid network took over the supply on the Ravenscourt Park to Uxbridge and Northfields section. Lots Road was permanently closed on 31 October 2003, being also replaced by power supply from the National Grid Network. Emergency lighting, powered by batteries, is available at every station, with emergency supply from a support power station in Greenwich.[165]

Depots and sidings[]

Northfields Depot, with an S stock train.

The line has two depots, at Cockfostersmap 54 and 55 The former site is near Trent Park, and was the preferred site over Oakwood, which was smaller,[45] and its only access point was south of the station. Subsequently, Oakwood was built with an island platform, with its intended three-track terminus layout moved to Cockfosters.[168] Light maintenance and cleaning of trains is done here, with the latter site, being the main depot, having train maintenance facilities.[165] Northfields depot is also double-ended, with access from just west of Boston Manor station[169] and Northfields station. For it to be built, the latter station had to be rebuilt nearer to South Ealing station.[150] The depot was opened earlier than the Hounslow extension, on 4 July 1932, and fully electrified two months later.[162][54][note 22]

Single sidings are placed at Rayners Lane, Oakwood, Down Street (Hyde Park Corner), and Wood Green. Arnos Grove, Acton Town, South Harrow, Uxbridge, Hammersmith and Heathrow Terminal 5 have more than one siding for reversing trains or stabling them.[54] Four crossovers were built for the initial line opening in 1906,[160] Hounslow Central on 3 March 1923,[7] and double crossovers at South Harrow were added in the 1930s.[162]

Crossovers with other lines are present on the Piccadilly line. A connecting tunnel from the northbound Piccadilly line at King's Cross St. Pancras to the northbound Northern line Bank branch was constructed in 1927.[170][note 23] At Finsbury Park, a set of crossovers in the south were retained where trains can cross over onto the Victoria line.[98]

Lillie Bridge was the main depot when the Piccadilly line was initially opened. Trains entering service on the line had to reverse and enter the District line tracks first via West Kensington.[171][172] When the Piccadilly and District line tracks were realigned in the 1930s, access points into the depot had to be altered.[173][174] When the line was extended to Northfields and Cockfosters in 1933, all trains except seven[note 24] were stabled at the newer depot.[162] Once the Cockfosters depot was opened, Lillie Bridge was converted to a maintenance depot, where it housed only engineers' and materials trains.[175][172]

Station lifts and escalators[]

Most original deep-level stations were installed with lifts and stairs, with some descending directly down to platform level.[176] Many of these were given an overhaul in the 1930s with escalators replacing lifts for quicker passenger flow.[83][177] Underground stations on the Cockfosters extension were built with access mainly via escalators; each station shaft are able to fit three escalators, but some stations had two escalators with a stairwell by the middle. Escalators at Bounds Green, Wood Green and Manor House travel at 165 feet (50 m) per minute, which were then the quickest on the network.[31] All of the original lifts were either replaced by new equipment or were converted to escalators. Alperton was the only above ground station to have an escalator, which was transferred over from the Festival of Britain, but was decommissioned in 1988.[163] Notable stations, such as Green Park and King's Cross St. Pancras, were recently installed with new lifts to provide step-free access to every platform.[178][179][180][181]


A Metropolitan line train at Uxbridge, with a Piccadilly line train to the left. This section is shared between the two lines.

Journey times on the Piccadilly line are usually around an hour and a half. Train dwell times are slightly longer at some stations, notably at Heathrow Terminals 4 and 5 stations. The former requires 8 minutes, while the latter needs 7 minutes to coordinate with the alternate Heathrow service schedule. The busiest section, as of 2016, is between King's Cross St. Pancras and Russell Square. This is expected to expand, between Holloway Road and Holborn in the 2040s.[182][183] The central section between Earl's Court and King's Cross St. Pancras is in Fare Zone 1, to Manor House and Turnham Green in Zone 2, and to Bounds Green, Park Royal and Northfields in Zone 3; to Southgate, Sudbury Hill and Hounslow Central in Zone 4, to Cockfosters, Hatton Cross and Eastcote in Zone 5, and to Uxbridge and Heathrow Terminals in Zone 6.[1] 79 trains are required to operate a 24 trains per hour (tph) peak-hour service on the line,[8] while typical off-peak services are generally as follows (as of 6 July 2020):[110][184]

  • 6 tph Cockfosters – Heathrow Terminals 4 & 2,3
  • 6 tph Cockfosters – Heathrow Terminals 2,3 & 5
  • 3 tph Cockfosters – Rayners Lane
  • 3 tph Cockfosters – Uxbridge
  • 3 tph Arnos Grove – Northfields

Trains also make an additional stop at Turnham Green in the early mornings and late evenings.[184] Night Tube services operate every 10 minutes between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminals 2,3 & 5 since 16 December 2016. No Night Tube service operates via the Terminal 4 loop nor the Uxbridge branch.[185] During disruptions, Piccadilly line trains may run on District line tracks, stopping all stations between Acton Town and Hammersmith.[110]

Historical services[]

On 11 October 1909, peak-hour services were altered to have trains skipping certain stops to improve journey times. Trains were marked with "Non Stop", which were deemed unpopular and ambiguous among passengers. Illuminated signs were added on platforms in 1932 to address this issue. Pairs of stations were the norm, such as Holloway Road and York Road, and Caledonian Road and Gillespie Road. After World War I, Covent Garden, Russell Square, South Kensington, Brompton Road and Gloucester Road were among the stations skipped. Boston Manor, South Ealing, North Ealing and Barons Court were included into these patterns by 1938. Skip-stop services were discontinued in June 1947.[186]

In 1930, during the planning of the northward and westward extensions, a 30tph peak-hour service was proposed between Wood Green and Turnham Green. This was preferred over an alternate skip-stop service through Bounds Green.[187][note 25] When the Piccadilly line was initially extended to Northfields in 1933, South Ealing was skipped. It was eventually served on 29 April 1935 by off-peak trains, and peak services in May 1942.[188][note 26]

When the Piccadilly line shared its storage of trains with the District line at Lillie Bridge Depot,[171] some trains started and ended their service at West Kensington; a few of these ran empty between West Kensington and Hammersmith. These services ceased on 27 October 1991.[163]

Rolling stock[]

A westbound Piccadilly line train at Northfields, formed of a six-car 1973 stock.
1973 stock at Northfields, July 2015
A westbound Piccadilly line train at Barons Court station, operated by a seven-car 1959 stock.
1959 Stock train at Barons Court

The 352 ft (107.2 m) six-car 1973 tube stocks provide services on the Piccadilly line, which were built between 1974 and 1977 by Metro-Cammell. These trains were built 6 ft (1.8 m) longer than the 1959 stock trains to accommodate more luggage space[189] and speed up journey times with more comfort. As of 2020, their livery is of standard London Underground corporate of blue, white and red. They were previously unpainted, exposing the aluminium alloy material.[190] Traction voltage is at 630 V DC current powered by the third and fourth rail.[191] The first of these trains entered service on 18 August 1975.[192][note 27] They were refurbished by Bombardier from 1995 to 2000 in Wakefield, Yorkshire.[193][194] Changes included the removal of transverse seating, strap hangers replaced with grab bars, new floor material and a full repaint into London Underground's corporate livery.[195] A refurbished carriage on one train was first seen in service on 20 January 1991 to test the new interior concept.[196][note 28]

On 20 November 2018, Siemens was awarded a £1.5 billion contract to build 94 2024 stock sets for the Piccadilly line, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2023 ahead of entry into service in 2024.[199][200] A train factory will be built in Goole, Yorkshire, which is estimated to cost £200 million.[201]

Historical tube stocks[]

The line was previously worked by the 1906 gate stock, which were manufactured in France and Hungary.[176] The 52 ft (16 m) carriages were connected to form three, four or five-car trains, and were designed to have a maximum of six cars per train. Built with steel as its main material, the interiors were covered by fireproof mahogany veneer.[202] Six-car trains were implemented in 1917. Additional cars were ordered and brought into service between 1920 and 1921 to combat shortage of capacity.[203] In late 1920s, plans were developed to replace these outdated stocks. Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Company (Metro-Cammell's predecessor) was to build standard tube stocks, which were delivered within 1928 and 1929. Another batch of these were constructed in Feltham by the Union Construction company. All the gate stocks were decommissioned in June 1929.[204] The new standard tube stocks have some wider doors on trailer cars and extra doors on the motor car. All doors are now air-operated.[205][note 29] In 1929, it was suggested that a new prototype of tube stock should include three double doors on each side. These seven-car trains, also standard tube stocks, had carriages at least one foot longer. They were made to be lighter, and had better interior lighting. These new trains were completed in two periods, 1931 and 1934, which costed £1.20 million in total.[207][208]

Due to ridership increasing by 61 per cent on the Uxbridge branch between 1931 and 1938, Piccadilly line trains were packed with passengers. New experimental trains were brought into service in 1936, which were formed of four or six cars. These trains had their control equipment (of seven different types from four different manufacturers) placed under the car floor, which enabled more space for passengers on both motor cars. While boarding times were decreased, some of the designs of control equipment were said to be less reliable than others. Nevertheless, they were a prototype for the design of the 1938 stock.[209][210] As part of the 1935–40 New Works Programme, the latter tube stock was introduced onto the Piccadilly line,[211] and were regarded as the most advanced tube stock at the time. Its interiors featured art deco lighting, depicted similar to a 1930s stylish restaurant.[212][note 30] As a safety measure for World War II, trains initially had their lights switched off at night. It was later amended to illuminate trains with dim blue lamps, and then, largely enclosed reading lamps.[214] Patronage on the line increased greatly after the war, which meant additional trains were needed. New 1938 stocks, together with the experimental trains were redone to form as a fleet of seven-car 1949 stock, in operation from 1952.[215][216][note 31]

New test trains were manufactured again in the 1950s, and three prototype trains, branded as the 1956 stock, were trialled on the Piccadilly line in 1957 and 1958. These new trains would replace most of the 1938 tube stocks. It was successful, and 76 seven-car trains were placed on order as the 1959 stock.[218] These were to be built by Metro-Cammell, with its first train entering service on 14 December 1959.[219][220][note 32] The standard stocks were withdrawn in 1964,[221] and the 1938 stocks were slowly taken out of service due to age. The 1959 stocks were gradually transferred to the Northern line between November 1975 and October 1979, being replaced by the 1973 stock trains; the last of the latter coming into service on 5 October 1979.[192]

A few 1938 trains were preserved, and in June 2011, one of these trains made a few shuttle trips on the line as part of an event in conjunction with Father's Day.[223]

List of stations[]

Piccadilly line
Arnos Grove
Arnos Grove sidings
Bounds Green
Wood Green
Turnpike Lane
Manor House
Finsbury Park Victoria Line National Rail Thameslink
link with Victoria line
Holloway Road
Caledonian Road
York Road
King's Cross St Pancras
Circle line (London Underground) Hammersmith & City Line Metropolitan Line Northern Line Victoria Line National Rail Thameslink Eurostar
link with Northern line
Russell Square
Holborn Central line (London Underground)
Covent Garden
Leicester Square Northern Line
Piccadilly Circus Bakerloo Line
Green Park Jubilee Line Victoria Line
Down Street
Hyde Park Corner
Brompton Road
South Kensington Circle line (London Underground) District Line
Gloucester Road Circle line (London Underground) District Line
Earl's Court District Line
Barons Court District Line
Hammersmith Circle line (London Underground) District Line Hammersmith & City Line
Non-stop section
Non-stop section
Ravenscourt Park (District Line)
Stamford Brook (District Line)
Turnham Green (District Line)
limited Piccadilly line services
District line
to Richmond
Chiswick Park (District Line)
Acton works
Acton Town District Line enlarge…
Ealing Common District Line enlarge…
Great Western Main Line
Left arrow to London Paddington Right arrow to Bristol
Central line
Left arrow via Bank Right arrow to Ealing Broadway
North Ealing
Park Royal
Central line
UpperLeft arrow via Bank LowerRight arrow to West Ruislip
Park Royal & Twyford Abbey
Grand Union Canal
(Paddington branch)
Sudbury Town
Sudbury Hill
Chiltern Main Line
UpperLeft arrow to Marylebone LowerRight arrow via South Ruislip
South Harrow
Rayners Lane Metropolitan Line
joint with Metropolitan line
joint with Metropolitan line
Eastcote Metropolitan Line
Ruislip Manor Metropolitan Line
Ruislip Metropolitan Line
Chiltern Main Line
LowerLeft arrow via West Ruislip UpperRight arrow to Marylebone
Central line
LowerLeft arrow to West Ruislip UpperRight arrow via Bank
to Ruislip Central line depot
Ickenham Metropolitan Line
Hillingdon Metropolitan Line
Uxbridge depot
(original site)
Uxbridge Metropolitan Line
South Ealing
Northfields depot
Boston Manor
Grand Junction Canal
Brentford Branch Line
Osterley & Spring Grove
Hounslow EastHounslow Town
Hounslow Central
Hounslow West
Hatton Cross
Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 Heathrow Airport Elizabeth Line Template:Heathrow rail services
Heathrow Terminal 4 Heathrow Airport Elizabeth Line
Heathrow Terminal 5 Heathrow Airport Template:Heathrow rail services
Notice found inside all Piccadilly line trains explaining step-free access
Notice found inside all Piccadilly line trains explaining alternative routes to Covent Garden

Open stations[]

Main branch[]

Station Image Opened Additional information
Cockfosters Disabled access Cockfosters Tube Station 2007.jpg 31 July 1933[175] Terminus map 1
Oakwood Disabled access Oakwood tube station better.jpg 13 March 1933[175] Opened as Enfield West, (East Barnet was initially proposed, name was changed before opening) it was renamed Enfield West (Oakwood) on 3 May 1934. It was renamed to its present name on 1 September 1946.[224] map 2
Southgate Southgate station building2.JPG map 3
Arnos Grove Arnos Grove stn building.JPG 19 September 1932[175] map 4
Tunnel section starts
Bounds Green Bounds Green stn building.jpg 19 September 1932[175] map 5
Wood Green Wood Green tube station 070414.JPG map 6
Turnpike Lane Turnpike Lane stn building.JPG map 7
Manor House Manor House stn main entrance.JPG map 8
Finsbury Park National Rail Disabled access Finsbury Park tube stn entrance Station Place.JPG 1 July 1861[225] Piccadilly line platforms opened on 15 December 1906.[17] Cross-platform interchange with Victoria line,[226] interchange with National Rail Services. map 9
Arsenal Arsenal station entrance.JPG 15 December 1906[17] Opened as Gillespie Road; renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill) 31 October 1932;[227] the suffix was later dropped in 1960[55] map 10
Holloway Road Holloway Road stn building.JPG map 11
Caledonian Road Disabled access Caledonian Road stn building.JPG map 12
King's Cross St. Pancras Disabled access National Rail King's Cross St Pancras tube stn Euston Rd NE entrance.JPG 10 January 1863[228] Opened as "King's Cross", it was renamed "King's Cross for St. Pancras" in 1927. The station was renamed again in 1933 to its present name.[228] The Piccadilly line platforms opened on 15 December 1906;[17] interchange with Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern and Victoria lines, National Rail Services map 13
Russell Square Russell Square station.jpg 15 December 1906[17] map 14
Holborn Holborn Tube Station - April 2006.jpg Opened as Holborn (Kingsway), suffix gradually dropped until 1960.[55] Interchange with Central line map 15
Covent Garden Covent Garden stn building.JPG 11 April 1907[55] map 16
Leicester Square Leicester Square stn northwest entrance.JPG 15 December 1906[17] Interchange with Northern line map 17
Piccadilly Circus Piccadilly Circus Tube Station Entrance.jpg 10 March 1906[55] Interchange with Bakerloo line map 18
Green Park Disabled access Green Park stn building.JPG 15 December 1906[17] Opened as Dover Street;[17] renamed 18 September 1933.[148] Interchange with Jubilee and Victoria lines map 19
Hyde Park Corner Hyde Park Corner stn southwest entrance.JPG map 20
Knightsbridge Knightsbridge station east entrance.JPG map 21
South Kensington South Kensington station.jpg 1 October 1868[55] Piccadilly line services began on 8 January 1907;[55] interchange with Circle and District lines map 22
Gloucester Road GlocesterRoadTube.jpg Piccadilly line services began on 15 December 1906;[17] interchange with Circle and District lines map 23
Earl's Court Disabled access EarlsCourtEntrance2.jpg 30 October 1871[229] Piccadilly line services began on 15 December 1906;[17] interchange with District line map 24
Tunnel section ends
Barons Court Barons-court-tube.jpg 9 October 1905[230] Piccadilly line services began on 15 December 1906;[17] cross-platform interchange with District line[231] map 25
Hammersmith Disabled access Hammersmith entrance District and Piccadilly lines.jpg 9 September 1874[232] Piccadilly line services began on 15 December 1906;[17] cross-platform interchange with District line,[231][110] interchange with Circle and Hammersmith & City lines map 26
Turnham Green Turnham Green stn building.JPG 1 January 1869[233] First served by the Piccadilly line on 23 June 1963;[110] interchange with District line. Trains only call here early in the morning and after 22:30 each evening.[184] map 27
Acton Town Disabled access ActonTown1.jpg 1 July 1879[229] Opened as Mill Hill Park, renamed on 1 October 1910.[234] Piccadilly line services began on 4 July 1932; cross-platform interchange with District line[235] map 28

Heathrow branch[]

Continuing from Acton Town
Station Image Opened Piccadilly line service began Additional information
South Ealing South Ealing stn building.JPG 1 May 1883[59] 29 April 1935[77] Off-peak Piccadilly line services began on 29 April 1935, while peak services came in May 1942.[188] map 29
Northfields Northfields station building.JPG 16 April 1908[7] 9 January 1933[77] Opened as Northfield (Ealing), renamed Northfields & Little Ealing on 11 December 1911.[7] The station was relocated to the east on 19 May 1932, enabling a depot to be constructed west of the new location.[236] map 30
Boston Manor Boston Manor stn building.JPG 1 May 1883[59] 13 March 1933[77] Opened as Boston Road, renamed 11 December 1911[59][237] map 31
Osterley Disabled access Osterley station building2.JPG 25 March 1934[55] Replacement of Osterley & Spring Grove station[55] map 32
Hounslow East Disabled access Hounslow East stn building.JPG 2 May 1909[7] 13 March 1933[77] Opened as Hounslow Town, renamed 1 December 1925[173] map 33
Hounslow Central Hounslow Central building.JPG 1 April 1886[59] Opened as Heston–Hounslow, renamed 1 December 1925[173] map 34
Start of tunnel section
Hounslow West Disabled access Hounslow West stn building.JPG 21 July 1884[59] 13 March 1933[77] Opened as Hounslow Barracks, renamed 1 December 1925.[173] Resited 19 July 1975[103] map 35
Hatton Cross Hatton Cross stn northern entrance.JPG 19 July 1975[103] map 36
Heathrow Terminal 4 Disabled access Heathrow Terminal 4 tube entrance.JPG 12 April 1986[164] map 37
Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 Disabled access Heathrow Terms 123 entrance.JPG 16 December 1977[103] Opened as Heathrow Central;[103] renamed Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 on 12 April 1986;[164] renamed Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 in January 2016[238] map 38
Heathrow Terminal 5 Disabled access Heathrow Terminal 5 Underground entrance.JPG 27 March 2008[109] Terminus map 39

Train services alternate between Terminals 2,3 & 5 and Terminals 4 & 2,3 since 2008.[184][239]

Uxbridge branch[]

Continuing from Acton Town
Station Image Opened Piccadilly line service began Additional information
Ealing Common Ealing Common stn building.JPG 1 July 1879[55] 4 July 1932[162] Shared platforms with District line[54] map 40
North Ealing North Ealing stn building.JPG 23 June 1903[240] map 41
Park Royal Park Royal stn building.JPG 6 July 1931[55] Replacement of Park Royal & Twyford Abbey station; renamed Park Royal (Hanger Hill) 1 March 1936; reverted to original in 1947[55] map 42
Alperton Alperton station building.JPG 28 June 1903[229] Opened as Perivale–Alperton by the District line; renamed 7 October 1910[55] map 43
Sudbury Town Disabled access Sudbury Town stn main entrance.JPG map 44
Sudbury Hill (National Rail Sudbury Hill Harrow) Sudbury Hill stn building.JPG map 45
South Harrow South Harrow stn southern entrance.JPG Platforms moved approximately 200 feet (61 m) to the west in 1935[135] map 46
Shared section with Metropolitan line
Rayners Lane Rayners Lane stn building.JPG 26 May 1906[241] 23 October 1933[77] map 47
Eastcote Eastcote tube station 1.jpg map 48
Ruislip Manor Ruislip Manor tube station 1.jpg 5 August 1912[241] map 49
Ruislip Ruislip station building.JPG 4 July 1904[241] map 50
Ickenham Ickenham tube station 1.jpg 25 September 1905[241] map 51
Hillingdon Disabled access Hillingdon stn entrance.JPG 10 December 1923[241] The station was named Hillingdon (Swakeleys) momentarily from the 1930s to the 1950s.[242] It was relocated in 1992 to make way for the A40 expansion.[243] map 52
Uxbridge Disabled access Uxbridge station entrance.JPG 4 July 1904[241] Terminus; relocated 4 December 1938[135] map 53

Closed stations[]

The Aldwych branch
  • Aldwych opened on 30 November 1907 as Strand. It was renamed Aldwych on 9 May 1915.[55] The possibility of extending the branch to Waterloo was discussed, but the scheme never proceeded.[244] Aldwych was closed on 30 September 1994. It is now regularly used by film makers.[245]
  • Brompton Road opened 15 December 1906; closed 30 July 1934, between Knightsbridge and South Kensington.[55]
  • Down Street opened 15 December 1906; closed 21 May 1932, between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.[55]
  • Osterley & Spring Grove first served on 13 March 1933;[79] closed 24 March 1934, between Boston Manor and Hounslow East. It was replaced by Osterley.[55]
  • Park Royal & Twyford Abbey opened 23 June 1903; closed 5 July 1931. Although on the route of the current Piccadilly line, a short distance north of the present Park Royal station, it was never served by Piccadilly line trains. It was opened by the District Railway, and was closed and replaced by Park Royal[55] before the Piccadilly line started running trains to South Harrow in 1932.[79]
  • York Road opened 15 December 1906;[17] closed 19 September 1932, between King's Cross St Pancras and Caledonian Road.[82] It was about 600 m north of King's Cross St Pancras.[246]

Future upgrade and proposals[]

The Piccadilly line is to be upgraded under the New Tube for London scheme, involving new trains as well as new signalling, increasing the line's capacity by some 24 per cent and reducing journey times by one fifth.[247] Bids for new rolling stock were originally submitted in 2008. However, after the acquisition of Tube Lines by Transport for London in June 2010, this order was cancelled and the upgrade postponed.[248]

LUL then invited Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens Mobility to develop a new concept of lightweight, low-energy, semi-articulated train for the deep-level lines, provisionally called "Evo" (for 'evolution'). Siemens publicised an outline design featuring air-conditioning and battery power to enable the train to run on to the next station if third and fourth rail power were lost. It would have a lower floor and 11 per cent higher passenger capacity than the present tube stock.[249] There would be a weight saving of 30 tonnes, and the trains would be 17 per cent more energy-efficient with air-conditioning included, or 30 per cent more energy-efficient without it.[250] Siemens Mobility was awarded a £1.5 billion contract in June 2018 to produce the new trains at a planned factory in Goole, East Yorkshire.[251]

The intention is for the new trains to eventually operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines.[252] Resignalling work on the Piccadilly line was to begin in 2019[253][254] but this has since been shelved because of lack of funds.[255] New trains were due to enter service in 2023,[251] bringing an increase in peak frequencies from 24 to 27 tph.[199] In March 2021, it was reported that the new trains would not enter service before 2025, that the increase in peak frequency from 24 to 27 tph would not take place until about 2027, and that any further increase to 30 tph would be delayed until the signalling system is upgraded, for which funds are not currently available.[256][257]

There have previously been some proposals, predominantly by Slough Borough Council, to extend the line towards Slough railway station from Heathrow Terminal 5 station. A number of routes have been proposed, and the main ones pass very close to but do not call at Windsor.[258] The current thinking, and most viable options are to support a western access link diverging from the Great Western Main Line just east of Langley station.[259]

In 2005 a business case was prepared to re-open the disused York Road station, to serve the King's Cross Central development and help relieve congestion at King's Cross St Pancras.[260]

See also[]

  • Fourth rail

Geographical locations[]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML

Notes and references[]


  1. ^ The original District Railway tube line was to be from Earl's Court to Mansion House. It was intended to be an express route from South Kensington to Mansion House, with an intermediate station at Embankment.[15][16]
  2. ^ The merger was carried out by transferring the assets of the CCE&HR and the BS&WR to the GNP&BR and renaming the GNP&BR as the London Electric Railway.[22]
  3. ^ The old street level station building closed on 21 July 1929.[29][28]
  4. ^ The diagram in the reference shows bus or tram routes in the north which were in close proximity to Finsbury Park.
  5. ^ An interchange at Manor House was provided instead for connecting trams to Edmonton, Tottenham and Enfield East.[41]
  6. ^ LNER continued to oppose the decision, and promised to electrify the line if the extension was rejected.[45][38]
  7. ^ It was intended for the station to be named East Barnet, but was quickly renamed before opening. Alternative suggestions were Merryhills and Oakwood. The station was gradually renamed, to Enfield West (Oakwood) on 3 May 1934, and to its present name on 1 September 1946.[47][48]
  8. ^ He travelled from Piccadilly Circus to Wood Green, and back to Hyde Park Corner for inspection.[58]
  9. ^ The Hounslow & Metropolitan Railway originally opened a shuttle service between Mill Hill Park and Hounslow Town on 1 May 1883, with a single-track branch to Hounslow Barracks which opened on 21 July 1884. The route to Hounslow Town eventually closed on 2 May 1909. The District Railway took over the branches in 1903.[60]
  10. ^ The Ealing & South Harrow Railway (E&SHR) was approved in 1894 and completed in 1899 after approximately a two-year construction period. Insufficient funds from the DR delayed its opening. On the other hand, the Harrow & Uxbridge Railway (H&UR) was proposed in 1896 and authorised a year later.[63] The Met offered to fund the line, with conditions to take over the Rayners Lane to Uxbridge section of the H&UR. Agreement was reached in 1899, with the Met also constructing the connection from South Harrow to Rayners Lane, whilst allowing up to three trains an hour from the DR between South Harrow and Uxbridge.[64] Construction began in 1901, and the Met opened its extension to Uxbridge on 4 July 1904.[61]
  11. ^ The CLR also had its Richmond extension proposal passed on the same day as the LER's. Nothing was done either.[71] The L&SWR section ceased operation in 1916 and its ownership was transferred to the Southern Railway in 1923.[72] The CLR, by the 1920s, had capacity constraints due to increased patronage from Ealing and congestion in the central section.[70]
  12. ^ The District line instead focused on running trains to Richmond, Ealing Broadway and Wimbledon, with the South Harrow to Uxbridge and Acton Town to South Acton shuttles to remain. In October 1930, provision was also made to have rush hour DR services to South Harrow.[76]
  13. ^ The four escalators led passengers down from the ticket hall to the new Central line concourse, and a further three to the Piccadilly line concourse.[87]
  14. ^ The four-tracking extension to Hounslow East from Northfields was considered in the 1940s to allow Heathrow express trains to run fast into central London. Another express rail link planned by LPTB would terminate at Hyde Park or Earl's Court, which would have costed £5–12 million.[99]
  15. ^ Several coach services were redirected to this station from Hounslow West.[103]
  16. ^ The Epping to Ongar section of the Central line also closed on 30 September.[55]
  17. ^ All except the two at Greenford station were replaced. These have since been decommissioned on 20 March 2014,[122][123] being replaced with an inclined lift and an up metal escalator the following year.[124]
  18. ^ Sources differ by year. Horne's mentioned 1989, while Wallingers' mentioned 1983.
  19. ^ This decoration concept was tested and worked on Bakerloo line stations, showing uniform style yet giving each station a unique appearance.[152]
  20. ^ Most of the existing semaphore signals on the District line branch to South Harrow were replaced with coloured light signals between October and December 1932.[162]
  21. ^ Direct traction current was also provided from District line substations at Earl's Court and South Kensington.[160]
  22. ^ When opened, some District line trains were stabled here.[162]
  23. ^ It was built to facilitate rolling stock transfers between lines and to reach Acton works.[170]
  24. ^ This figure excluded trains serving the Aldwych branch which were also parked at the depot.[162]
  25. ^ Several stations were planned to be closed to improve running times, and Bounds Green would not have been included as a station.[187]
  26. ^ During this period, passengers were advised to board District line trains at South Ealing.[77]
  27. ^ One train was used during the Hatton Cross extension opening on 19 July that same year.[192]
  28. ^ The shared section between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge is also served by S8 stock trains on the Metropolitan line.[197] Between Hammersmith and Acton Town, it is parallel to the District line, which is served by S7 stock trains.[198]
  29. ^ The 1906 gate stock was still in use on the Aldwych shuttle.[206]
  30. ^ The 1938 stock was mainly used on the Northern and Bakerloo lines.[213]
  31. ^ Meanwhile, 1906 stock trains were withdrawn on the Aldwych branch in December 1956, being replaced by two experimental trains. One train was transferred to the Epping — Ongar shuttle in 1957.[217]
  32. ^ The Central line had problems with the wearing old standard stock, which were in urgent need of replacement. Combined with electrification of British Rail lines which forecasted new journeys on the line, priority was given to use some of the 1959 stock before the 1962 stock was produced. Once the latter stocks were fully in service in May 1964, the 57 trains were transferred back onto the Piccadilly line.[221] Previously, the line already had 19 1959 stock trains in service. A three-car 1962 stock train was brought into service on the Aldwych shuttle to replace the experimental train.[222]


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External links[]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata
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