The Piccadilly line (//) is a London Underground line that runs between Cockfosters in suburban north London and Acton Town in the west where it divides into two branches, one to Heathrow Airport and the other to Uxbridge in north-west London, with some services terminating at Rayners Lane.
Coloured dark blue (officially "Corporate Blue", Pantone 072) on the Tube map, it is the fourth-busiest line on the Underground network with over 210 million passenger journeys in 2011/12. It is mainly a deep-level line, with a number of surface sections, mostly in its western-most parts. It is named after Piccadilly, the street above it between Hyde Park Corner and Piccadilly Circus. Some of its stations are shared with the District line (between South Kensington and Ealing Common) and some are shared with the Metropolitan line (from Rayners Lane to Uxbridge). It is the second-longest line on the system after the Central line, and with 53 stations only the District line has more stops.
The Piccadilly line serves many of London's key tourist attractions including the British Museum (Russell Square), the numerous museums around South Kensington, Harrods (Knightsbridge), Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace (within walking distance of Green Park station), Leicester Square (with its own station) and Covent Garden (also with its own station).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
These eastward and westward extensions feature Modernist architecture at their 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.
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.
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 at the end of 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.
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.
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.
Piccadilly line services are generally as follows:
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.
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.
|Cockfosters||31 July 1933||One of the two depots is located heremap 1|
|Oakwood||13 March 1933||Opened as Enfield West; renamed Enfield West Oakwood 3 May 1934; renamed 1 September 1946map 2|
|Southgate||13 March 1933||in deep-level tunnelmap 3|
|Arnos Grove||19 September 1932||Trains may terminate here: there are several sidings for stabling trainsmap 4|
|Tunnel section commences|
|Bounds Green||19 September 1932||map 5|
|Wood Green||19 September 1932||map 6|
|Turnpike Lane||19 September 1932||map 7|
|Manor House||19 September 1932||map 8|
|Finsbury Park||15 December 1906||map 9|
|Arsenal||15 December 1906||Opened as Gillespie Road; renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill) 31 October 1932; the suffix was later dropped in 1960map 10|
|Holloway Road||15 December 1906||map 11|
|Caledonian Road||15 December 1906||map 12|
|King's Cross St. Pancras||15 December 1906||Opened as King's Cross; renamed King's Cross for St. Pancras 1927; renamed 1933map 13|
|Russell Square||15 December 1906||map 14|
|Holborn||15 December 1906||Renamed Holborn (Kingsway) 22 May 1933; the suffix was later dropped.map 15|
|Covent Garden||11 April 1907||map 16|
|Leicester Square||15 December 1906||map 17|
|Piccadilly Circus||15 December 1906||map 18|
|Green Park||15 December 1906||Opened as Dover Street; renamed 18 September 1933map 19|
|Hyde Park Corner||15 December 1906||In the event of disruption, trains may terminate here via a crossovermap 20|
|Knightsbridge||15 December 1906||map 21|
|South Kensington||8 January 1907||map 22|
|Gloucester Road||15 December 1906||map 23|
|Earl's Court||15 December 1906||map 24|
|Tunnel section ends|
|Barons Court||15 December 1906||map 25|
|Hammersmith||15 December 1906||map 26|
|Extension to Hounslow and Uxbridge|
|Turnham Green||1 January 1869||Originally the London and South Western Railway; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 June 1963map 27|
|Acton Town||1 July 1879||Originally the District Railway, later District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932map 28|
|The line splits here into two branches – the Heathrow branch and the Uxbridge branch.|
|Continuing from Acton Town|
|South Ealing||1 May 1883||Originally the District Railway, later District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 29 April 1935map 29|
|Northfields||16 April 1908||Originally the District line (one of the two depots is here and some trains terminate here); first served by the Piccadilly line 9 January 1933map 30|
|Boston Manor||1 May 1883||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 13 March 1933map 31|
|Osterley||23 March 1934||map 32|
|Hounslow East||2 May 1909||Opened as Hounslow Town by the District line renamed 1 December 1925; first served by the Piccadilly line 13 March 1933map 33|
|Hounslow Central||1 April 1886||Opened as Heston-Hounslow by the District line, renamed 1 December 1925; first served by the Piccadilly line 13 March 1933map 34|
|Tunnel section recommences|
|Hounslow West||21 July 1884||Opened as Hounslow Barracks) by the District line, renamed 1 December 1925; first served by the Piccadilly line 13 March 1933, resited 19 July 1975map 35|
|Hatton Cross||19 July 1975||map 36|
|Heathrow Terminal 4||12 April 1986||map 37|
|Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3||16 December 1977||Opened as Heathrow Central; renamed Heathrow Central Terminals 1, 2, 3 on 3 September 1983; renamed Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, & 3 on 12 April 1986; renamed Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 in January 2016map 38|
|Heathrow Terminal 5||27 March 2008||map 39|
Just beyond Heathrow Terminals 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.
|Continuing from Acton Town|
|Ealing Common||1 July 1879||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932map 40|
|North Ealing||23 June 1903||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932map 41|
|Park Royal||6 July 1931||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932; renamed Park Royal (Hanger Hill) 1 March 1936; renamed 1947map 42|
|Alperton||28 June 1903||Opened as Perivale-Alperton by the District line; renamed 7 October 1910; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932map 43|
|Sudbury Town||28 June 1903||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932map 44|
|Sudbury Hill ( Sudbury Hill Harrow)||28 June 1903||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932map 45|
|South Harrow||28 June 1903||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 4 July 1932; closed when re-located 4 July 1935; re-opened 5 July 1935map 46|
|Rayners Lane||1 March 1910||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933 (from here to Uxbridge trains share track with Metropolitan line, and some trains terminate here)map 47|
|Eastcote||1 March 1910||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933map 48|
|Ruislip Manor||5 August 1912||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933map 49|
|Ruislip||1 March 1910||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933 (some trains terminate here in Monday-Friday peak hours)map 50|
|Ickenham||1 March 1910||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933map 51|
|Hillingdon||10 December 1923||Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933; renamed Hillingdon (Swakeleys) April 1934; the suffix was later dropped; closed when re-located 5 December 1992; re-opened 6 December 1992map 52|
|Uxbridge||1 March 1910||Terminus. Originally the District line; first served by the Piccadilly line 23 October 1933; closed when re-located 3 December 1938; re-opened 4 December 1938map 53|
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.
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Route map: Google