The Piccadilly line
is a line of the London Underground
, coloured dark blue
on the Tube map
. It is the third busiest line on the Underground network judged by its passengers per annum. It is mainly a deep-level line running from the north to the west of London via Zone 1
, with significant surface running sections in its outer parts. Out of the 53 stations served, 25 are underground.
The Piccadilly line began as the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (GNP&BR), one of several railways controlled by the Underground Electric Railways Co of London Ltd (UERL), whose chief director was Charles Tyson Yerkes, although he died before any of his schemes came to fruition.
In 1902, there had been 26 Bills before Parliament to construct tube railways in London, many of them proposing competing routes and it required a Parliamentary Committee to decide on the most worthy of them as far as the Piccadilly line was concerned.
The scheme eventually agreed involved the amalgamation of two of the planned tube railways, the Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) and the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR), and the taking over of a District Railway scheme for a deep-level tube line between South Kensington and Earl's Court (approved in 1897 but not built). A connecting section between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn was also added to link the GN&SR and B&PCR.
When the GNP&BR was formally opened on 15 December 1906, the line ran from the Great Northern & City Line terminus 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. This had been planned as the last section of the GN&SR before the amalgamation with the B&PR 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 was never to come about. Although built with twin tunnels, single-line shuttle working became the norm from 1918, with the eastern tunnel closed to traffic.
On 1 July 1910
the GNP&BR and the other UERL owned railways (the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway
, the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway
and the District Railway) were merged by private Act of Parliament to become the "London Electric Railway Company"
On 10 December 1928 a new Piccadilly Circus tube station, which included a sub-surface booking hall and 11 escalators, was opened. This was the start of a considerable development over the whole of the Railway, which included a comprehensive programme of station enlargement on the same basis as at Piccadilly Circus.
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
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 Rd in Harringay
, but this was stopped by Frank Pick
who felt that the bus & 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 12 km (7.7 miles): it cost £4 million to build and was opened in sections as follows:
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. 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:
These extensions are notable for the Art Deco architecture of many of their stations, often designed by Charles Holden.
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.
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.
From 7 January 2005 to 17 September 2006, the loop via Heathrow Terminal 4 was closed to allow the connection of a spur line to the future 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.
2005 terrorist attack
On July 7 2005
, a Piccadilly line train was attacked by suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay
. The blast occurred at 08:50 BST
while the train was travelling 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 relatively small high-explosive device, concealed in a rucksack, was used; the bomber died in the explosion.
The Piccadilly line bomb resulted in the largest number of fatalities, with 26 people reported killed. Evacuation proved to be more difficult as it is a deep level line, difficult for the emergency services to reach. The entire line remained closed for the rest of the day. Parts of the line re-opened on July 8, with no service between Hyde Park Corner and Arnos Grove, and full service was restored on August 4, exactly four weeks after the bomb.
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 was severely damaged by the terrorist attack of 7 July 2005. While the stock was recently refurbished, it is due for replacement by 2014.
The line was previously worked by 1959 stock, 1956 stock, 1938 stock, standard tube stock and 1906 gate stock.
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. Oakwood and Arnos Grove are considered more dominant to the other sidings as trains run to and from them, especially the latter.
The line is controlled from the control centre at Earl's Court, which it shares with the District line
. It is in need of resignalling, and this work is planned to be carried out by 2014.
The current service pattern is:
- 6tph Cockfosters - Heathrow Terminal 5 (via Terminals 1, 2, 3)
- 6tph Cockfosters - Heathrow Terminal 4 (returning around the loop and serving Terminals 1, 2, 3)
- 3tph Cockfosters - Uxbridge
- 3tph Cockfosters - Rayners Lane
- 6tph Arnos Grove - Northfields
(tph = trains per hour, e.g. 3tph is a train every 20 minutes)
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.
Other services operate at times, especially at the start and towards the end of the traffic day.
The TFL line diagram is available online.
(In order from east to west.)
Tunnel section commences
- Finsbury Park , opened December 15, 1906.
- Arsenal, opened December 15, 1906 (as Gillespie Road); renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill) October 31 1932; the suffix was later dropped.
- Holloway Road, opened December 15, 1906.
- Caledonian Road , opened December 15, 1906.
- King's Cross St. Pancras , opened December 15, 1906 (as King's Cross); renamed King's Cross for St. Pancras 1927; renamed 1933.
- Russell Square, opened December 15, 1906.
- Holborn, opened December 15, 1906; renamed Holborn (Kingsway) May 22, 1933; the suffix was later dropped.
- Covent Garden, opened April 11, 1907.
- Leicester Square, opened December 15, 1906.
- Piccadilly Circus, opened December 15, 1906.
- Green Park, opened December 15, 1906 (as Dover Street); renamed September 18, 1933.
- Hyde Park Corner, opened December 15, 1906 (In the event of disruption, trains may terminate here due to a crossover).
- Knightsbridge, opened December 15, 1906.
- South Kensington, opened January 8, 1907.
- Gloucester Road, opened December 15, 1906.
- Earl's Court, opened December 15, 1906.
Tunnel section ends
Extension to Hounslow and Uxbridge
The line splits here into two branches — the Heathrow branch and the Uxbridge branch.
(Continuing from Acton Town.)
Tunnel section recommences
- Hounslow West , opened 21 July 1884 (as Hounslow Barracks) by the District, renamed 1 December 1925; first served by the Piccadilly line 13 March 1933, resited 19 July 1975.
- Hatton Cross, opened 19 July 1975.
- Heathrow Terminal 4 , opened 12 April 1986.
- Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 , opened 16 December 1977 (as Heathrow Central); renamed Heathrow Central Terminals 1,2,3 on 3 September 1983; renamed 12 April 1986.
- Heathrow Terminal 5 , opened 27 March 2008.
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.
(continued from Acton Town)
- Ealing Common, first served July 4, 1932.
- North Ealing, opened June 23, 1903 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line July 4, 1932.
- Park Royal, opened July 6, 1931 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line July 4, 1932; renamed Park Royal (Hanger Hill) March 1, 1936; renamed 1947.
- Alperton, opened June 28, 1903 (as Perivale-Alperton) by the District; renamed October 7, 1910; first served by the Piccadilly line July 4, 1932.
- Sudbury Town , opened June 28, 1903 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line July 4, 1932.
- Sudbury Hill (Sudbury Hill Harrow), opened June 28, 1903 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line July 4, 1932.
- South Harrow, opened June 28, 1903 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line July 4, 1932; closed when re-located July 4, 1935; re-opened July 5, 1935.
- Rayners Lane, opened March 1, 1910 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933 (from here to Uxbridge trains share track with Metropolitan Line, and some trains terminate here).
- Eastcote, opened March 1, 1910 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933.
- Ruislip Manor, opened August 5, 1912 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933.
- Ruislip, opened March 1, 1910 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933 (some trains terminate here in Monday-Friday peak hours).
- Ickenham, opened March 1, 1910 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933.
- Hillingdon , opened December 10, 1923 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933; renamed Hillingdon (Swakeleys) April, 1934; the suffix was later dropped; closed when re-located December 5, 1992; re-opened December 6, 1992.
- Terminus: Uxbridge , opened March 1, 1910 by the District; first served by the Piccadilly line October 23, 1933; closed when re-located December 3, 1938; re-opened December 4, 1938.
- Aldwych opened on the 30 November 1907 as Strand. 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 never proceeded. It was finally closed on 30 September 1994; the level of use was said to be too low to justify the £1 million estimated costs of complete lift replacement. The station is regularly used by film makers.
- Brompton Road opened 15 December 1906; closed 30 July 1934, between Knightsbridge and South Kensington.
- Down Street opened 15 December 1906; closed 21 May 1932, between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.
- Osterley & Spring Grove first served 13 March 1933; closed 24 March 1934 between Boston Manor and Hounslow East. It was replaced by Osterley.
- 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 that this station may be reopened to serve new developments on the nearby King's Cross railway lands, although the number of passengers expected to use the station may not be high enough to justify the cost of refitting it to modern standards. The road the station served, 'York Road', has since been renamed 'York Way'.
- Barker, T. C.; Robbins, Michael A History of London Transport: Volume two - the Twentieth Century to 1970. George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
— architect of the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway's early stations