Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Piccadilly line

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Covid-19
Type  Deep Tube, sub-surface
Stations  53
Website  tfl.gov.uk
System  London Underground
Colour on map  Dark Blue
Piccadilly line
Ridership  210.169 million (2011/12) passenger journeys

The Piccadilly line /ˌpɪkəˈdɪli/ is a line of the London Underground, coloured dark blue on the Tube map. It is the fourth busiest line on the Underground network on the basis of the number of passengers transported per year with 210,000,000. 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. It is named after the road above it between Hyde Park Corner and Piccadilly Circus. Some of its stations are shared with the District line and some are shared with the Metropolitan line. It is the second longest line on the system, after the Central line, and has the second most stations, after the District line. It serves many of London's top tourist attractions including Harrods (Knightsbridge), Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace (within walking distance from Green Park), Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden, as well as London Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in Europe. The line shares tracks with the Metropolitan line between Uxbridge and Rayners Lane, and with the District line between Hanger Lane Junction and Acton Town, then runs parallel with the District line between Acton Town and Barons Court.

Contents

The beginnings

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 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; it had been planned as the last section of the GN&SR before the amalgamation with the B&PCR. 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 track shuttle operation 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 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 renovation of the whole railway, including a comprehensive programme of station enlargement.

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, buses and LNER main line trains for destinations in North London 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 began from Finsbury Park to a point a little south of Arnos Grove. The total length of the extension is 12 km (7.5 mi): 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 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:
  • 4 July 1932: extended from Hammersmith to South Harrow
  • 23 October 1933 (after formation of the London Passenger Transport Board): to Uxbridge
  • 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 eastward and westward extensions are notable for the Modernist architecture of their new stations, many of them designed by Charles Holden, who was inspired by examples of Modernist architecture in mainland Europe. This influence can be seen in the bold vertical and horizontal forms, which were combined with the use of traditional materials like brick. Many of these Holden-designed station are listed buildings.

    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 rejected due to the inconvenience to passengers that would have been caused during rebuilding, as well as the costs of the new tunnels. Even so, the Piccadilly line was affected at Finsbury Park by the construction of the Victoria line. The westbound service was redirected 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.

    Extension to Heathrow

    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, south of the central terminal area. To reflect the demolition of Terminal 1 in June 2015, it was renamed again as Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3.

    From 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 2 & 3, which again became the temporary terminus; shuttle buses served Terminal 4 from the Hatton Cross bus station. For a brief period in summer 2006, the line terminated at Hatton Cross and shuttle buses also ran to Terminals 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. Access for the emergency services and evacuation of the public proved difficult as it is a deep-level line. 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 most 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-nine trains out of a fleet of 86 are needed to run the line's peak service. One unit (166-566-366) was severely damaged by the terrorist attack of 7 July 2005.

    The stock was refurbished by Bombardier Transportation between 1995 and 2000. 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.

    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 Northfieldsmap 55 and Cockfosters.map 54 There are sidings at Oakwood, South Harrow, Arnos Grove, Rayners Lane, Down Street, Wood Green, Acton Town, Ruislip and Uxbridge.

    Signalling

    The line from Cockfosters to Heathrow and South Harrow is controlled from a control centre at Earl's Court, which too is shared with the District line controlling the line from Ealing Broadway, Kensington (Olympia) and Parsons Green to High Street Kensington and Tower Hill. Rayners Lane signal cabin is responsible for signalling the Piccadilly line from South Harrow to Uxbridge as well as the Metropolitan line joining at Rayners Lane.

    Service pattern

    The current off-peak service pattern is:

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

    This forms a service frequency of approximately every 3 minutes through central London, with 21 trains per hour.

    Often late evening services terminate at Oakwood instead of Cockfosters.

    Trains also make an additional stop at Turnham Green in the early morning and late evening but do not call there during the main part of the day due to capacity constraints with signalling.

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

    Since 16 December 2016, there is a 24-hour Night Tube service on Friday and Saturday nights from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Cockfosters, but not from Uxbridge to Acton Town or the Heathrow Terminal 4 loop.

    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 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 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.
  • 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 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'.
  • Future upgrades

    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% and reducing journey times by one fifth. 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.

    Meanwhile, LUL has invited Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens to develop a new concept of lightweight, low-energy, semi-articulated train for the deep-level lines, provisionally called "Evo" (for 'evolution'). So far only Siemens has publicised an outline design, which would feature air-conditioning and would also have battery power enabling 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% higher passenger capacity than the present tube stock. There would be a weight saving of 30 tonnes, and the trains would be 17% more energy-efficient with air-conditioning included, or 30% more energy-efficient without it.

    The intention is for the new trains to eventually operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. On current plans, resignalling work on the Piccadilly line will begin in 2019 and new trains should be in service by 2022.

    There are also 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.

    References

    Piccadilly line Wikipedia


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