The Metropolitan line is a London Underground line that runs from Aldgate, in the City of London, to Amersham and Chesham in Buckinghamshire, with branches to Watford in Hertfordshire, and Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Coloured magenta (Pantone 235) on the tube map, the line is 41.4 miles (66.7 km) in length and serves 34 stations. The section between Aldgate and Baker Street is shared with the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines; that between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge with the Piccadilly line; and that between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham with Chiltern Railways. Just under 67 million passenger journeys were made on the line in 2011/12. The line is one of only two London Underground lines to cross the Greater London boundary, the other being the Central line.
In 1863 the Metropolitan Railway began the world's first underground railway between Paddington and Farringdon Street with wooden carriages and steam locomotives, but its most important route became the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line extended as far as Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 km) from Baker Street. From the end of the 19th century, the railway shared tracks with the Great Central Railway route out of Marylebone. The central London lines were electrified by 1907, but electric locomotives were exchanged for steam locomotives on trains heading north of Harrow. After the railway was absorbed by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 the line was cut back to Aylesbury. Steam trains ran until 1961, when the line was electrified to and services curtailed at Amersham. The Hammersmith & City line was shown on the tube map as part of the Metropolitan line until 1990, when it appeared as a separate line. The current S Stock trains entered service between 2010 and 2012.
The track is underground between Aldgate and Finchley Road; unlike the tube railways, the tunnels are just below the surface (cut and cover) and of similar size to those for mainline trains. Baker Street is the central London terminus for some trains, others continuing to Aldgate in the City. Most of the route is two tracks, except for the single-track Chesham branch and a four-track section between Wembley Park and Moor Park that allows fast services to overtake slower trains. There are also four tracks between Wembley Park and Finchley Road, but the inner pair of tracks was transferred to the Bakerloo line in 1939, then to the Jubilee line in 1979, the trains on these lines calling at all stations. The Metropolitan line runs on the outer fast lines. The disused Metropolitan line platforms at Willesden Green and Neasden are still in place despite Metropolitan line services having been withdrawn in 1940.
The Watford branch is due to be diverted to Watford Junction, resulting in the closure of Watford station and the opening of two new stations.The extension will link up with the London Overground Watford DC Line. The Metropolitan line will provide interchange with the Overground at Watford High Street before terminating at Watford Junction providing interchange with the West Coast Main Line. Construction is due to begin in 2016 and be completed by 2020.
The Metropolitan Railway (also known as the Met) was a passenger and goods railway that served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the mainline railway termini at Paddington, Euston and King's Cross to the City, built beneath the New Road using the cut-and-cover method between Paddington and King's Cross, and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King's Cross to near Smithfield. It opened on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, the world's first underground railway. In 1871, when plans were presented for an underground railway in Paris, it was called the Métropolitain in imitation. The modern word metro is a short form of the French word.
The railway was soon extended from both ends and northwards via a branch from Baker Street. It reached Hammersmith in 1864 and Richmond in 1877, and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, but the most important route became the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line extended as far as Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) from Baker Street. From the end of the 19th century, the railway shared tracks with the Great Central Railway route out of Marylebone.
Electric traction was introduced in 1905 with electric multiple units operating between Uxbridge, Harrow-on-the-Hill and Baker Street. To remove steam and smoke from the tunnels in central London, the railway purchased electric locomotives, exchanged for steam locomotives at Harrow from 1908. In 1910, a seventeen-minute silent film recording was made showing large portions of the journey from Baker Street to Aylesbury and Uxbridge, seen from the cab of a train. The film survives and is publicly available.
Unlike other railways in the London area, the Met developed land for housing, thus benefitting from the increase in the value of its land caused by the building of the railway. After World War I it promoted its housing estates near the railway with the "Metro-land" brand.
To improve services, more powerful electric and steam locomotives were purchased in the 1920s. A short branch opened from Rickmansworth to Watford in 1925. After World War I, the 4-mile (6.4 km) Stanmore branch was built from Wembley Park.
On 1 July 1933 the Metropolitan was amalgamated with other Underground railways, tramway companies and bus operators to form the London Passenger Transport Board, and a period of rationalisation followed. While the Metropolitan was run as an outer suburban route with steam-hauled trains and goods services, the LPTB wished to focus on electrified trains and suburban traffic. Goods services were passed to the London and North Eastern Railway, which also took over the role of providing steam locomotives for trains beyond the end of electrification at Rickmansworth. All services north-west of Aylesbury were withdrawn by 1936 though services returned to Quainton Road between 1943 and 1948.
The 1930s was a period of rapid growth for the north-western suburbs of London, and LPTB developed ambitious plans to simplify the Metropolitan line and expand capacity. Several stations on the Uxbridge branch were rebuilt, replacing temporary wooden buildings with modernist designs and giving Uxbridge station a new site in the town centre. A major bottleneck in the line, the double-track tunnel from Baker Street to Finchley Road, was bypassed by boring two tube tunnels underneath the Metropolitan tunnels, transferring slow services and the Stanmore branch to the Bakerloo line. (This route was transferred to the Jubilee line in 1979.) In 1936 the line was extended east from Whitechapel to Barking along the tracks of the District line. London Transport inherited a number of incompatible electric multiple units from the railway, including the 1927–33 multiple-unit compartment stock used on routes to Watford and Rickmansworth, and these were refurbished to form a uniform fleet and designated London Underground T Stock. In the 1950s, F Stock trains, with sliding doors under the control of the guard, were transferred from the District line; these mainly worked the semi-fast Harrow and Uxbridge services.
A major rebuilding of the main line from Wembley Park to Amersham was planned in the 1930s but delayed by the war. The line from Wembley to Harrow was rebuilt immediately after the war and the project was completed from 1956-1962, on a more modest scale than originally planned. Until 1961, passenger trains continued to be attached to a steam locomotive at Rickmansworth to run to Aylesbury. The rebuilding electrified the line from Rickmansworth to Amersham, transferring all Aylesbury services to British Railways. A pair of fast lines was added from Harrow to north of Moor Park by 1962, allowing outer-suburban trains to run fast to Moor Park. Aluminium A stock, originally unpainted, replaced the T stock and locomotive-hauled trains. More A Stock trains were built in 1962–63 to replace the trains on the Uxbridge service, giving the main line a single train type for all services. A Stock was 4-car units that could operate as four- or eight-car trains; normally operated as eight cars, a 4-car unit operated the Chesham shuttle. One person operation of the trains was proposed in 1972, but due to conflict with the trades unions was not introduced on the line until 1986.
Although the East London line had been an isolated shuttle since 1939, it was shown on London Underground maps as part of the Metropolitan line until 1968. In 1970 it was shown with a thin white line in the middle and labelled the "East London section". By the 1985 map it had become the "East London Line", remaining the same colour as the Metropolitan line with a white line in the middle, changed to orange by the 1990 map. In 1990 the Hammersmith & City line became a separate line from Hammersmith to Whitechapel (Barking during the peak), the Metropolitan line being from Aldgate to Baker Street and northwards to Amersham with branches to Uxbridge and Watford.
In 2003, the infrastructure was partly privatised in a public–private partnership managed by the Metronet consortium. Metronet went into administration in 2007 and Transport for London took over responsibilities.
On 12 December 2010 the service to Amersham was reduced from four trains per hour to two, and a direct service between Chesham and central London was introduced, replacing the 4-car Chesham to Chalfont & Latimer shuttle. The final passenger services operated by the A Stock ran on 26 September 2012, followed by a ticketed public railtour on 29 September.
The Metropolitan line is 42 miles (67 km) long and serves 34 stations. It is electrified with a four-rail DC system: a central conductor rail is energised at –210 V and a rail outside the running rail at +420 V, giving a potential difference of 630 V. The first 6 miles (9.7 km) from Aldgate are below ground, shared with the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines to Baker Street, where the line diverges, remaining in tunnel until Finchley Road. Between Finchley Road and Wembley Park the line runs parallel to the Jubilee line, the tracks being paired by direction, with cross-platform interchange at the two stations. At Wembley Park the Jubilee line diverges to the Stanmore branch at a grade-separated junction. From just after Finchley Road these four tracks run parallel with the Network Rail Chiltern Main Line from Marylebone.
Between Wembley Park and Harrow-on-the-Hill the Metropolitan is four-track, with fast and slow lines paired by direction, paralleling the two-track un-electrified Chiltern Main Line. The slow lines are between the fast lines, and the two intermediate stations have island platforms. Harrow-on-the-Hill has platforms on all six lines. The central slow lines diverge here at a grade-separated junction to become the 7.5 miles (12.1 km) Uxbridge branch. After West Harrow, at Rayners Lane the line is joined by the Piccadilly line, which shares the tracks to Uxbridge; a turnback siding allows some Piccadilly line services to terminate at Rayners Lane.
On the main line between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Moor Park tube station, the line is four-track, paired by use. The western fast tracks are shared with Chiltern line services from Marylebone; the eastern slow tracks have platforms at the intermediate stations. There is access at Watford triangle to the Watford branch. This double-track branch has stations at Croxley and Watford, but in 2018 the Croxley Rail Link is scheduled to open, involving the closure of Watford station and diversion of the line to Watford Junction via Watford High Street. From the Watford triangle to Amersham the line has two tracks. At Chalfont & Latimer the 3.89 miles (6.26 km) single-track Chesham branch diverges, running parallel to the main line for a distance. The Metropolitan line ends at Amersham, where there are turnback sidings just beyond the platforms. The route continues to Aylesbury with Chiltern Railways trains only.
The fast lines north of Harrow and all lines north of Rickmansworth are signalled with LUL signalling, but using four-aspect Network Rail signal heads. The upper two lights are a two-aspect stop signal displaying either a green or red aspect, the lower two lights a repeater signal for the next stop signal ahead showing a green or yellow aspect, or no aspect when the stop signal shows a red aspect. Thus they are effectively four-light three-aspect signals with green/red/green/yellow lights from the top, danger being a single red light, caution the top green light over a yellow light, and clear two green lights.
The Metropolitan Line is the only line to operate express service, though currently this is only southbound in the morning peaks and northbound in the evening peaks(Monday to Friday).Southbound Fast trains run non-stop from Moor Park to Harrow-On-The-Hill and Harrow-On-The-Hill to Finchley Road
Southbound Semi-Fast trains run non-stop between Harrow-On-The-Hill and Finchley Road
Northbound Fast and Semi-Fast trains additionally call at Wembley Park
The off-peak service in trains per hour (tph) presently consists of:2tph Amersham to/from Aldgate (all stations)
2tph Chesham to/from Aldgate (all stations)
4tph Watford to/from Baker Street (all stations)
7tph Uxbridge to/from Aldgate (all stations)
1tph Uxbridge to/from Baker Street (all stations)
The morning peak service in trains per hour (tph) presently consists of:2tph Amersham to/from Aldgate (fast)
2tph Amersham to/from Aldgate (semi-fast)
2tph Chesham to/from Aldgate (fast)
1tph Watford to/from Aldgate (semi-fast)
1tph Watford to/from Aldgate (all stations)
3tph Watford to/from Baker Street (semi-fast)
3tph Watford to/from Baker Street (all stations)
2tph Uxbridge to/from Aldgate (semi-fast)
4tph Uxbridge to/from Aldgate (all stations)
4tph Uxbridge to/from Baker Street (all stations)
Note that southbound fast and semi-fast trains return as northbound all stations services in the morning peak with the same frequency.
The evening peak service in trains per hour (tph) presently consists of:2tph Amersham to/from Aldgate (fast)
2tph Amersham to/from Baker Street (semi-fast)
2tph Chesham to/from Aldgate (fast)
4tph Watford to/from Aldgate (semi-fast)
2tph Watford to/from Baker Street (semi-fast)
2tph Watford to/from Baker Street
7tph Uxbridge to/from Aldgate (all stations)
3tph Uxbridge to/from Baker Street (all stations)
Note that norththbound fast and semi-fast trains return as southbound all stations services in the evening peak with the same frequency.
Since 26 September 2012 all services have been provided by eight-car S Stock trains introduced in July 2010 to replace the A Stock. Part of Bombardier's Movia family, they have air-conditioning, feasible because the sub-surface tunnels, unlike tube tunnels, are able to disperse the exhausted hot air. They have regenerative brakes, returning around 20% of their energy to the network and thus reducing energy consumption.
With a top speed of 62 miles per hour (100 km/h), they have fewer seats — 306 compared with 448 in the A Stock — but accommodate 697 standing passengers compared with 597 in A Stock and have dedicated space for wheelchairs. It is planned to increase the traction voltage from the present nominal 630 V to 750 V to give better performance and allow the trains to return more energy to the network through their regenerative brakes.
The line is served by a depot at Neasden. The Metropolitan Railway opened a carriage works at Neasden in 1882 and the following year the locomotive works were moved from Edgware Road. In 1904–05 the depot was refitted to take the new electric multiple units and accommodation enlarged in 1932–3. After the amalgamation into the LTPB, the depot was rebuilt from 1936 to 1939. The depot was upgraded in 2010–11 to make it suitable for maintenance of S Stock trains. Trains are also stabled overnight at Uxbridge, Watford, Rickmansworth and Wembley Park.
In 1989, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan to Chesham, the first Steam on the Met event took place with London Underground running two weekends of steam specials between Chesham and Watford. The event was a success and so in 1990 London Underground ran steam between Harrow and Amersham. In 1992, to celebrate 100 years of the Met at Amersham, the event was extended to five days at the end of May. From 1994, diesel locomotive 20227, owned by the Class 20 Locomotive Society, and electric locomotive Sarah Siddons provided air braking for the coaches. In 1995 trains ran between Amersham and Watford.
Engines used included BR standard class 5 and BR standard class 4 and GWR Pannier tanks. There was other rolling stock on static display at Rickmansworth sidings. The steam trains ran between normal Metropolitan and main line services. Due to the imminent partial privatisation of LUL and the stock condition, the last steam excursion took place in 2000. In 2008, special trains ran on using Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive "Sarah Siddons" and diesel Class 20 locomotives.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan, special services ran in January 2013 using a restored 1892 "Jubilee" carriage, 1898–1900 Ashbury and Cravens bogie carriages, Metropolitan Railway milk van No.3, Metropolitan Railway E Class steam locomotive No. 1 and electric locomotive "Sarah Siddons". Further events are planned in 2013 for Locomotive No. 1, "Sarah Siddons" and the Jubilee carriage, including a Steam back on the Met scheduled for May.
With the introduction of S Stock, the track, electrical supply and signalling systems are being upgraded in a programme planned to increase peak-hour capacity on the line by 27 per cent by the end of 2018. A single control room for the sub-surface railway is to be established in Hammersmith, and an automatic train control (ATC) system will replace signalling equipment installed from the 1940s. Trackside signals with Automatic Train Protection (ATP) will remain on the line north of Harrow-on-the-Hill, shared with Chiltern Railways DMUs. It was planned that the new signalling system would be used first on the line north of Baker Street from the end of 2016, but the signalling contractor Bombardier was released by agreement in December 2013 and London Underground are looking for a replacement. The project has been very unpopular, as seats were reduced by a third after the S-stock were introduced without a compensating increase in train services or line speeds.
The Watford Branch is planned to be rerouted from the current terminus over the disused Croxley Green branch line to Watford Junction. Funding was agreed in December 2011, and the necessary permission was granted by the Government in July 2013. Construction work is expected to span from June 2016 to January 2020.
In order from east to west.
The Brill Tramway with stations Waddesdon Road, Westcott, Wotton, Church Siding, Wood Siding and Brill closed in 1935. In the following year the line was cut back to Aylesbury, with Waddesdon station and Granborough Road, Winslow Road stations on the line to Verney Junction closing. Initially Verney Junction and Quainton Road remained open, with main line services provided by the LNER.
In 1939 the Stanmore branch and the stopping service between Finchley Road and Wembley Park were transferred to the Bakerloo line. On the St John's Wood section, Lord's and Marlborough Road stations were replaced by St. John's Wood, and Swiss Cottage replaced the Metropolitan line station. The Bakerloo line service to Stanmore was transferred to the Jubilee line when that line opened in 1979.
In 1961, when steam locomotives were replaced and the line was electrified to Amersham, the Underground service to Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury was withdrawn.
Between Moor Park and Croxley, a short branch ran south-east off the Watford branch near its junction with the main line to Croxley Tip, a rubbish dump beside the Grand Union Canal. This site began as a gravel loading point before becoming used by the railway to dump waste such as old ballast and waste from Neasden power station. This route, never used for passenger traffic, continued to be used by London Transport's small fleet of steam engines until 1971, when diesels replaced them. The branch closed some time after this, although a section of the spur line remained visible from a passing train.
A second short branch line, known as the Halton Railway, served RAF Halton near Wendover, across the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. The line was built during the First World War and closed in 1963. The trackbed is now a footpath.
Although not operated by Metropolitan passenger services, the line from South Harrow to Rayners Lane was built by the Metropolitan railway as the District Railway was in financial difficulties at the time. This included a short branch on viaduct to a gas works, part of which is still visible. Other minor freight connections along the line once included connections to the Midland main line at Finchley Road.
A single-track spur from a small yard between Ickenham and Ruislip stations connects to Ruislip Depot of the Central line. This line is used for engineering and empty stock transfers, although occasional plans suggest extending the Central line into Uxbridge by upgrading the connection. It was built in 1973.