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The Piccadilly line is a line of the London Underground, coloured dark blue on the Tube map. It is the fifth busiest line on the Underground network judged by the number of passengers transported per year. It is mainly a deep-level line, running from the north to the west of London via Zone 1, with a number of surface sections mostly in its westernmost parts. Out of the 53 stations served, 25 are underground. It is the second longest line on the system, after the Central Line.


The beginnings[]

See Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway for detailed histories of the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (GNP&BR), the Great Northern & Strand Railway (GN&SR), and the Brompton & Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR).

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, although he died before any of his schemes came to fruition.

The GNP&BR was formed from the merger of two earlier, but unbuilt, 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). 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 Metropolitan District Railway's scheme for a deep-level tube line between South Kensington and Earl's Court was also added in order to complete the route.

When the GNP&BR was formally opened on 15 December 1906, the line ran from the Great Northern Railway's station at Finsbury Park to the District Railway's station at Hammersmith.

On 30 November 1907, the short branch from Holborn to the Strand (later renamed Aldwych) opened, which had been planned as the last section of the GN&SR before the amalgamation with the B&PCR was made. In 1905 (and again in 1965), plans were made to extend it the short distance south under the River Thames to Waterloo, but this never happened. Although built with twin tunnels, single-line shuttling became the norm on the branch from 1918 on, with the eastern tunnel closed to traffic.

Later changes[]

On 1 July 1910, the GNP&BR and the other UERL-owned tube railways (the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway) were merged, by private Act of Parliament,[1] to become the London Electric Railway Company.

On 10 December 1928, a rebuilt Piccadilly Circus station was opened. This included a sub-surface booking hall and eleven escalators, replacing the original lifts, and was the start of a considerable renovation of the whole railway, which included a comprehensive programme of station enlargement, on the same basis as the improvements at Piccadilly Circus.

Cockfosters extension[]

Main article: Piccadilly line extension to Cockfosters

From the 1920s onwards there had been severe congestion at the line's northern terminus, Finsbury Park, where travellers had to change on to trams and buses for destinations in North and North East London. There had been deputations made to Parliament, asking for an early extension of the line either towards Tottenham and Edmonton or towards Wood Green and Palmers Green. The early 1930s was a time of recession, and in order to relieve unemployment Government capital was made available. The chief features of the scheme were an extension northwards from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters. It was also planned to build a station between Manor House and Turnpike Lane at the junction of Green Lanes and St Ann's Road in Harringay, but this was stopped by Frank Pick who felt that the bus and tram service at this point was adequate. However, a 'Ventilation Station', in similar architectural style to tube stations of the time was provided at the site, and is visible today. There was also some opposition from the London and North Eastern Railway to the line. The extension is in tube from Finsbury Park to a point a little south of Arnos Grove. The total length of the extension is 12km: it cost £4 million to build and was opened in sections as follows:

  • 19 September 1932: to Arnos Grove
  • 13 March 1933: to Enfield West (now Oakwood), in conjunction with the westward extension to Hounslow West
  • 19 July 1933: completion to Cockfosters

Westward extensions[]

Powers to link with existing tracks west of Hammersmith were originally obtained in 1913. A Parliamentary report of 1919 recommended through running to Richmond and Ealing. By the end of the 1920s the priority had shifted to serving the areas around Hounslow and north and west of Ealing. The outcome involved taking over the inner pair of tracks between Hammersmith and Acton Town as a non-stop service, while the Metropolitan District Railway would continue to provide the stopping service on the outer pair of tracks.[2] Construction of the linking sections started in 1930, and the services opened as follows.

  • to Uxbridge: the District Railway had operated services to Uxbridge since 1910. The District services were taken over by the Piccadilly line:
  • to Hounslow: the line from Acton Town was quadrupled to Northfields on 18 December 1932 and the Piccadilly line was extended:
    • 9 January 1933: to Northfields
    • 13 March 1933: to Hounslow West, in conjunction with the eastern extension to Enfield West.

These extensions are notable for the Art Deco architecture of many of their stations, often designed by Charles Holden.

Victoria line[]

During the planning stages of the Victoria line, a proposal was put forward to transfer Manor House station to the Victoria line, and also to build new "direct" tunnels from Finsbury Park to Turnpike Lane station, thereby cutting the journey time in and out of Central London. This idea was eventually shelved due to the inconvenience to passengers that would have been caused during re-building, as well as the costs of the new tunnels. Even so, the Piccadilly line was still affected at Finsbury Park by the construction of the Victoria line. The westbound service was re-directed through new tunnels, to give cross-platform interchange with the Victoria line on the platforms previously used by the Northern City Line. This work was completed in 1965, and the diversion came into use on 3 October 1965, three years before the opening of the first stage of the Victoria line.

Heathrow extension[]

In 1975, a new tunnel section was opened to Hatton Cross from Hounslow West. Hounslow West became a tunnel section station. In 1977, the branch was extended to Heathrow Central. This station was renamed Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 in 1984, with the opening of a one-way loop serving Heathrow Terminal 4, to the south of the central terminal area.

During 7 January 2005 until 17 September 2006, the loop via Heathrow Terminal 4 was closed to allow the connection of a spur line to the now operational Heathrow Terminal 5 station. All underground services reverted to two-way working into Terminals 1, 2 and 3, which again became the temporary terminus; shuttle buses served Terminal 4 from the Hatton Cross bus station. For a brief period in the summer of 2006, the line terminated at Hatton Cross and shuttle buses also ran to Terminals 1, 2, 3 while the track configuration and tunnels were altered for the Terminal 5 link from that station. The station at Terminal 5 opened on 27 March 2008 on the same day Terminal 5 opened.

2005 terrorist attack[]

On 7 July 2005, a Piccadilly line train was attacked by suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay. 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 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. A small high-explosive device, concealed in a rucksack, was used.

The Piccadilly line bomb resulted in the largest number of fatalities, with 26 people reported killed. Evacuation proved difficult as it is a deep-level line, difficult for the emergency services to reach. Parts of the line re-opened on 8 July, and full service was restored on 4 August, four weeks after the bomb.


Rolling stock[]

Like virtually all Underground lines, the Piccadilly line is operated by a single type of rolling stock, in this case the 1973 tube stock, in the standard London Underground livery of blue, white and red. Seventy-six trains out of a fleet of 88 are needed to run the line's peak service, and one unit (166-566-366) was severely damaged by the terrorist attack of 7 July 2005. The stock was recently refurbished, and was due for replacement by 2014,[3] but the order for new trains was cancelled in July 2010.

The line was previously worked by 1959 stock, 1956 stock, 1938 stock, standard tube stock and 1906 gate stock.

The Piccadilly line's 1973 tube stock is expired for life and needs changing. Webpage of new stock below

File:Piccadilly new stock.webp

The line has two depots, at Northfields and Cockfosters. There are sidings at Oakwood, South Harrow, Arnos Grove, Rayners Lane, Down Street, Wood Green, Acton Town, Ruislip and Uxbridge.


The line is controlled from the control centre at Earl's Court, which it used to share with the District line. It is in need of resignalling, and this work is planned to be carried out by 2014.

Service pattern[]

The current service pattern is:

  • 6 trains per hour Cockfosters – Heathrow Terminal 5 (via Terminals 1, 2, 3)
  • 6 trains per hour Cockfosters – Heathrow Terminal 4 (returning around the loop and serving Terminals 1, 2, 3)
  • 3 trains per hour Cockfosters – Uxbridge
  • 3 trains per hour Cockfosters – Rayners Lane
  • 6 trains per hour Arnos Grove – Northfields

Half of the Uxbridge trains turn back at Rayners Lane: a 10-minute service runs between Acton and Rayners Lane, with a 20-minute service to Uxbridge (this section is supplemented by the Metropolitan line).

Often late evening services terminate at Oakwood instead of Cockfosters.

Trains will also make an additional stop at Turnham Green during early mornings and late evenings but will not stop at the station during the main part of the day.

Other services operate at times, especially at the start and towards the end of the traffic day.


Geographically accurate map of the Piccadilly line


(In order from east to west.)

Cockfosters branch
Station Zone Local Authority Opened Interchange
Cockfosters 5 Enfield/Barnet 31 July 1933
Oakwood 5 Enfield 13 March 1933
Southgate 4 Enfield 13 March 1933
Arnos Grove 4 Enfield 19 September 1932
Tunnel section commences
Bounds Green 3/4 Haringey 19 September 1932
Wood Green 3 Haringey 19 September 1932
Turnpike Lane 3 Haringey 19 September 1932 Crossrail 2
Manor House 2/3 Hackney/Haringey 19 September 1932
Original Section
Finsbury Park 2 Islington 15 December 1906 Victoria Line, National Rail
Arsenal 2 Islington 15 December 1906
Holloway Road 2 Islington 15 December 1906
Caledonian Road 2 Islington 15 December 1906
King's Cross St. Pancras 1 Camden 15 December 1906 Circle Line, Hammersmith & City Line, Metropolitan Line, Northern Line, Victoria Line, National Rail
Russell Square 1 Camden 15 December 1906
Holborn 1 Camden 15 December 1906 Central Line
Covent Garden 1 Westminster 11 April 1907
Leicester Square 1 Westminster 15 December 1906 Northern Line
Piccadilly Circus 1 Westminster 15 December 1906 Bakerloo Line
Green Park 1 Westminster 15 December 1906 Jubilee Line, Victoria Line
Hyde Park Corner 1 Westminster 15 December 1906
Knightsbridge 1 Kensington & Chelsea 15 December 1906
South Kensington 1 Kensington & Chelsea 8 January 1907 Circle Line, District Line
Gloucester Road 1 Kensington & Chelsea 15 December 1906 Circle Line, District Line
Earl's Court 1 Kensington & Chelsea 15 December 1906 District Line
Tunnel section ends
Barons Court 2 Hammersmith & Fulham 15 December 1906 District Line
Hammersmith 2 Hammersmith & Fulham 15 December 1906 District Line
Turnham Green 2/3 Hounslow 1 January 1869 District Line
Acton Town 3 Ealing 1 July 1879 District Line
The line splits here into two branches — the Heathrow branch and the Uxbridge branch.
Continuing from Acton Town
Station Zone Local Authority Opened Interchange
South Ealing 3 Ealing 1 May 1883
Northfields 3 Ealing 16 April 1908
Boston Manor 4 Hounslow 1 May 1883
Osterley 4 Hounslow 23 March 1934
Hounslow East 4 Hounslow 2 May 1909
Hounslow Central 4 Hounslow 1 April 1886
Tunnel section recommences
Hounslow West 5 Hounslow 21 July 1884
Hatton Cross 5/6 Hillingdon 19 July 1975
Heathrow Terminal 4 6 Hillingdon 12 April 1986 Elizabeth Line
Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 6 Hillingdon 16 December 1977 Elizabeth Line, Heathrow Express
Heathrow Terminal 5 6 Hillingdon 27 March 2008 Elizabeth Line, Heathrow Express
Just beyond Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 tube station, the line goes into a new section to serve Heathrow Terminal 5 tube station, which opened in March 2008. Half of all Heathrow trains use the loop and serve Terminal 4 and the other half omit Terminal 4 and serve Terminal 5.[4] Terminal 5 is in fare zone 6, except the Heathrow Express services which run special fares.
Uxbridge Branch
Station Zone Local Authority Opened Interchange
Ealing Common 3 Ealing 1 July 1879 District Line
North Ealing 3 Ealing 23 June 1903
Park Royal 3 Ealing 6 July 1931
Alperton 4 Brent 28 June 1903
Sudbury Town 4 Brent 28 June 1903
Sudbury Hill 4 Harrow 28 June 1903
South Harrow 5 Harrow 28 June 1903
Rayners Lane 5 Harrow 1 March 1910 Metropolitan Line
Eastcote 5 Hillingdon 1 March 1910 Metropolitan Line
Ruislip Manor 6 Hillingdon 5 August 1912 Metropolitan Line
Ruislip 6 Hillingdon 1 March 1910 Metropolitan Line
Ickenham 6 Hillingdon 1 March 1910 Metropolitan Line
Hillingdon 6 Hillingdon 10 December 1923 Metropolitan Line
Uxbridge 6 Hillingdon 1 March 1910 Metropolitan Line

Closed stations[]

  • Aldwych opened on 30 November 1907 as the Strand tube station. It was at the end of a branch line from the main line at Holborn. An evening through-northbound 'Theatre' train ran until 1910. From 1917 onwards, it was served only by a shuttle from Holborn. In the same year it was renamed Aldwych when Charing Cross on the Northern line was renamed Strand. It was temporarily closed in 1940 during World War II to be used as an air-raid shelter. It re-opened in 1946. The possibility of extending the branch to Waterloo was discussed, but the scheme never proceeded. Aldwych was finally closed on 30 September 1994; the level of use was said to be too low to justify the £1 million in estimated costs of a complete replacement of the lifts. The station is regularly used by film makers.
  • 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 line, the original operator of the line between Ealing Common and South Harrow, and was closed and replaced by the present Park Royal station before the Piccadilly line started running trains to South Harrow in 1932.
  • York Road opened 15 December 1906; closed 19 September 1932, between King's Cross St Pancras and Caledonian Road. It has been suggested[5] that this station may be reopened to serve new developments on the nearby Kings Cross railway lands, but this idea is not being progressed at present. The road the station served, 'York Road', has since been renamed 'York Way'.


The Piccadilly line was to be upgraded in 2014-15 and would have had new trains named 2014 tube stock as well as new signalling. This would have increased the line's capacity by some 24%.[6] Bids for the rolling-stock order were submitted in 2008. However, after the acquisition of Tube Lines by Transport for London in June 2010, this order was cancelled. The line will be upgraded with the New Tube for London from 2025, with the current 1973 Tube Stock being replaced between 2025 and 2027.


  1. 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.
  2. Barker & Robbins, p.252
  3. Tube Lines invites expressions of interest from manufacturers for new Piccadilly line trains. Tubelines (15 January 2007). Retrieved on 17 August 2007.
  4. Piccadilly line's new timetable. Transport for London (8 January 2008). Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved on 2008-01-16.
  5. York Way Station. (11 January 2006). Retrieved on 2008-07-11.
  6. "Transforming the Piccadilly Line", Transport for London.

See also[]

External links[]