Finsbury Park is a busy intermodal interchange station in north London. The interchange consists of a National Rail station, a London Underground station and two bus stations, all interconnected. The main entrances are by the eastern bus station on Station Place. The National Rail ticket office here lies in between one entrance marked by the Underground roundel symbol, while the other is marked by the National Rail symbol, and provides direct access to the main line platforms. There is another exit by the western bus station along Wells Terrace, incorporating the Underground ticket office, plus a narrow side entrance to the south on the A503 Seven Sisters Road. The complex is located in Travelcard Zone 2.
The station is named after the nearby Finsbury Park, one of the oldest of London's Victorian parks. It is also used by many Arsenal supporters on matchdays, as the club's ground is just a short walk away.
When the Victoria line was built in the 1960s, the walls in Finsbury Park station were decorated with mosaics of duelling pistols, which can still be seen. This was based on a mistaken identification of Finsbury Park with Finsbury Fields, which was used by Londoners since medieval times for archery and sports, and also associated with 18th-century duels and one of the first hot air balloon flights. Finsbury Fields was close to the present-day Finsbury Square, 3 miles (5 km) south. At the same time the long entrance subways and the Wells Terrace booking hall (at the bus station end) were rebuilt to a high standard.
Finsbury Park station has a long and complex history involving the participation of many railway companies and there have been various changes to the station infrastructure. British Transport Police maintain a presence at Finsbury Park and have a police station at the Wells Terrace entrance.
Ticket barriers were installed to platforms 1, 2, 5 and 6 in 2011.
Finsbury Park is on the route of the East Coast Main Line from King's Cross to the north of England and Scotland. The southern section of this was built in stages during the 1840s and early 1850s by the Great Northern Railway (GNR). Tracks were first laid through Finsbury Park in 1850 to the GNR's temporary terminus at Maiden Lane just north of the permanent terminus at King's Cross (which opened in 1852). The first station at Finsbury Park opened on 1 July 1861 and was originally named Seven Sisters Road (Holloway).
Soon after the first station opened, the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway (EH&LR) began construction of a line from Finsbury Park to Edgware. The GNR took over the EH&LR shortly before its opening on 22 August 1867. The station was given its current name Finsbury Park on 15 November 1869. The Edgware branch platforms were on each side of the main tracks. The southbound ("up") track of the branch crossed over the main line by a bridge on its way into the station.
The Great Northern & City Railway (GN&CR) was an underground railway planned to provide a tunnel link between Finsbury Park and Moorgate in the City of London as an alternative London terminus for GNR trains. The tunnels were constructed with a large diameter to accommodate this service but a dispute between the two companies prevented the GN&CR connecting its tunnels to the GNR platforms. The GN&CR tunnels, instead, terminated beneath the main line station without a connection to the surface and the line operated as a shuttle between Finsbury Park and Moorgate. The line opened on 14 February 1904.
The Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) (now London Underground's Piccadilly line) opened on 15 December 1906 between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith in west London. The tube railway originated as the Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) in 1897 and was initially supported by the GNR as a means of relieving congestion on its main line into King's Cross by constructing a tube line under the GNR's tracks from Alexandra Palace to King's Cross and then to the Strand. The GN&SR was taken over in 1901 by a consortium led by Charles Yerkes before any work had been carried out and the section north of Finsbury Park was cancelled. The GN&SR was merged with the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway to form the GNP&BR. It was constructed with the smaller-diameter tube tunnels common to other underground railways being constructed in London at that time. Its platforms were constructed by the GNR parallel with the GN&CR's platforms beneath the main line station.
The transport interchange at Finsbury Park had long been recognised as a severe bottle-neck for passengers heading north from central London and calls had been regularly made to improve the situation by extending northwards one of the two underground lines serving the station. Until the mid-1920s this had been resisted by the GNR and its successor the LNER as a threat to its suburban passenger traffic, but mounting pressure finally forced the LNER to relinquish its veto and lift its objections to the Underground making an extension.
With financial support from the government, the Underground began construction of a extension of the Piccadilly line northwards to Cockfosters and the first section, to Arnos Grove, opened on 19 September 1932. The route was opened fully on 31 July 1933.
By 1935 the GNR had become part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the GN&CR had become the Northern City branch of London Underground's Northern line (having previously, in 1913, been bought by the Metropolitan Railway, the forerunner to London Underground's Metropolitan line).
In 1935 London Underground announced its New Works Programme. This included plans to take over the steam-operated LNER branch lines from Finsbury Park to Edgware, High Barnet and Alexandra Palace - collectively known as the "Northern Heights" lines. These routes were to be joined to the Northern City Line by the construction of new tracks from Drayton Park to the surface at Finsbury Park as had originally been intended by the GN&CR. Trains would then have been able to run from any of the three LNER termini to Moorgate. The Northern City Line tunnels from Drayton Park to Finsbury Park would have been taken out of use. A separate connection between Archway Underground station (then named Highgate) and East Finchley station was also planned, including a new Underground station below the then-existing surface station at Highgate.
In early 1939 London Underground announced that the Drayton Park to Alexandra Palace route would begin operation in autumn 1940. The start of the Second World War caused the postponement and eventual cancellation of this and much of the other plans, leaving operations at Finsbury Park unchanged. The surface connection between Drayton Park and Finsbury Park was abandoned and the Northern City Line continued to run between Moorgate and Finsbury Park in tunnel. Traffic on the Highgate and Alexandra Palace branch diminished and it was closed to passengers in 1954 although it was retained for freight to Edgware and stock movements to Highgate Depot.
London Underground had for many years been planning a new route across central London to relieve pressure on the central sections of the Piccadilly and Northern lines. In the early 1960s the plans were consolidated into a single plan for the Victoria line. The route of the new line was designed to provide the maximum number of interchanges with other Underground and British Rail lines as possible, and Finsbury Park was an ideal candidate for this.
The plan for Finsbury Park called for the reconfiguration of the four underground platforms used by the Northern City Line and the Piccadilly line. To allow the construction works necessary for the provision of cross-platform interchanges between the Piccadilly and the Victoria lines the Northern City service to Finsbury Park was ended on 3 October 1964. After this date trains from Moorgate ran only as far as Drayton Park.
The Northern City platforms became the southbound platforms for both the Piccadilly and Victoria lines which were connected to the previously dead-end tunnels to the north of the platforms. The old southbound Piccadilly line platform then became the Victoria line northbound platform, with the northbound Piccadilly line platform unchanged. New connecting tunnels were constructed. There are cross-over connections between each pair of northbound and southbound tunnels to enable stock transfers, given that the Victoria line is otherwise completely self-contained.
The first section of the Victoria line, including Finsbury Park, opened between Walthamstow Central and Highbury & Islington on 1 September 1968.
London Underground continued to use the Edgware branch occasionally for stock movements between its depot at Highgate and Finsbury Park until September 1970. The tracks were removed in 1971 and the platforms at Finsbury Park which served this line were demolished; their location is now the pedestrian access to the eastern station entrance. The bridge over Stroud Green Road which carried the tracks was removed. The abutment walls remain.
In 1976 part of the abandoned Northern Heights plan was completed in reverse. The Northern City Line, which had originally run to the underground part of the station was transferred from London Underground to British Rail. An unfinished surface connection between Drayton Park and Finsbury Park begun as part of the "Northern Heights" project was completed to make it possible to bring trains to the surface at Finsbury Park and run through trains from Moorgate on to the north. The service commenced operation on 8 November 1976.
In June 2008 it was announced that plans by architects Benson & Forsyth had been selected as part of a RIBA competition to redevelop the south-west/Wells Terrace side of the station and surrounding area with an 46,000sqm, £80 million mixed-use proposal.
The proposals, which feature two residential towers, include 480 apartments alongside cafes and restaurants, retail units and a leisure facility still to be decided upon. As part of the proposals, which cover the current pedestrian tunnel from Seven Sisters Road to Wells Terrace and the surrounding ticket hall area, there will be a new concourse and entrance from the underground platforms onto Fonthill Road via Goodwin Street.
A planning application was submitted in December 2009.
On 9 November 1959 a freight train ran away and collided with an empty coaching-stock train. The collision occurred on a bridge over a road, severely damaging the bridge.
The above-ground National Rail station, which has a separate ticket office to the Underground station, is managed and served by Great Northern. Trains from Moorgate and King's Cross form inner suburban services to Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North and outer suburban services start from Kings Cross towards Peterborough and Cambridge. Inner suburban service formerly did not serve the Moorgate branch at night and at weekends, being diverted to London Kings Cross instead. There are currently six platforms but only five tracks, as platforms 6 and 7 share a track (though platform 6 is no longer separately numbered or utilised). The platforms were renumbered on 19 May 2013 to prepare for two new up platforms, with all existing numbers increased by 2. Typically, platform 3 is used by southbound suburban services to Moorgate, platform 4 by southbound regional services to King's Cross, platform 7 (and occasionally also platform 5) by northbound regional services from King's Cross, and platform 8 by northbound suburban services from Moorgate. Platform utilisation differs when the Northern City Line to Moorgate is closed: generally, platform 3 is used by slow southbound services, platform 4 by fast southbound services, platform 5 by fast northbound services and platform 7 by slow northbound services; platform 6 is unused. Platform 5 is the only platform not currently protected by ticket barriers.
Finsbury Park is being linked to the Thameslink network, which will provide services to London Bridge and the south coast by 2018.
In February 2008 Network Rail published its East Coast Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy (ECMLRUS). This identified a number of interventions, many of them involving infrastructure projects to enhance the East Coast Main Line (ECML). Among these interventions, improvements to the tracks able to carry passenger trains between Alexandra Palace Station and Finsbury Park were recommended. In March 2009 Network Rail published its CP4 Delivery Plan 2009, including Enhancements programme: statement of scope, outputs and milestones, confirming many of the recommended interventions. In particular, part of this work just outlined was scheduled to be completed by 2014, and will involve the bringing back into service of a presently-abandoned southbound platform, currently adjacent to a goods-only line on the south-east side of Finsbury Park station. This was again confirmed in the June 2010 update to the plan. It is expected that Moorgate-bound services will utilise this platform. Work on the two new platform faces was completed in the summer of 2013, with regular use commencing at the December 2013 timetable change. Since that date regular use of platform 3 has ceased, with platforms 1 and 2 now used instead. Also, since the December 2015 timetable change, the Northern City line operates through until end of service during the week and at weekends.
The station is served by the Piccadilly and Victoria lines. Although thought of as a 'deep-level' tube station, Finsbury Park has neither lifts nor escalators as its lines are less than 20' (6.1 m) below street level, though there used to be lifts from the high-level platforms to the tube level. These were the last hydraulically-operated lifts on LT. Access to the Piccadilly and Victoria line platforms is by staircase only, reached via two narrow passages that physically prevent the installation of automatic ticket barriers. Manual ticket inspections by ticket inspectors do, however, regularly take place to combat fare evasion and ticketless travel. Stand-alone Oystercard validators are available by the station entrances for "pay as you go" customers to touch in and out. In 2015 ticket barriers were installed and operated on all the entrances to the station.
London Buses routes 4, 19, 29, 106, 153, 210, 236, 253, 254, 259, W3 and W7 and night routes N19, N29, N253 and N279 serve the station and bus station.
The railway station is featured in the music video for Jim Diamond's number one hit "I Should Have Known Better".
In JoWood Productions' transport game Traffic Giant, the opening video shows a station platform (similar to a typical London Underground station) bearing the station name Finsbury Park.
Finsbury Park is also a character created by the comedian Harry Hill and the station's name was used as a term of amazement and exclamation by British comedy double-act Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer during the series Vic Reeves Big Night Out.