Central line (London Underground)

Last updated

Central line
Central line flag box.svg
London Underground 1992 Stock at Theydon Bois by tompagenet.jpg
A 1992 stock Central line train leaving Theydon Bois
Colour on map Red
Website tfl.gov.uk
Type Rapid transit
System London Underground
Rolling stock 1992 Stock
Ridership260.916 million (2011/12) [2] passenger journeys
Opened30 July 1900;122 years ago (1900-07-30)
Last extension1949
Line length74 km (46 mi)
CharacterDeep Tube
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
London Underground
Hammersmith & City
Waterloo & City
Other TfL Modes
Elizabeth line
London Overground

The Central line is a London Underground line that runs through central London, from Epping, Essex, in the north-east to Ealing Broadway and West Ruislip in west London. Printed in red on the Tube map, the line serves 49 stations over 46 miles (74 km). [3] It is one of only two lines on the Underground network to cross the Greater London boundary, the other being the Metropolitan line. One of London's deep-level railways, Central line trains are smaller than those on British main lines.


The line was opened as the Central London Railway in 1900, crossing central London on an east–west axis along the central shopping street of Oxford Street to the financial centre of the City of London. It was later extended to the western suburb of Ealing. In the 1930s, plans were created to expand the route into the new suburbs, taking over steam-hauled outer-suburban routes to the borders of London and beyond to the east. These projects were mostly realised after Second World War, when construction stopped and the unused tunnels were used as air-raid shelters and factories. However, suburban growth was limited by the Metropolitan Green Belt: of the planned expansions one (to Denham, Buckinghamshire) was cut short and the eastern terminus of Ongar ultimately closed in 1994 due to low patronage; part of this section between Epping and Ongar later became the Epping Ongar Railway. The Central line has mostly been operated by automatic train operation since a major refurbishment in the 1990s, although all trains still carry drivers. Many of its stations are of historic interest, from turn-of-the-century Central London Railway buildings in west London to post-war modernist designs on the West Ruislip and Hainault branches, as well as Victorian-era Eastern Counties Railway and Great Eastern Railway buildings east of Stratford, from when the line to Epping was a rural branch line.

In terms of total passengers, the Central line is the second busiest on the Underground. In 2016/17 over 280 million passenger journeys were recorded on the line. [4] As of 2013, it operated the second-most frequent service on the network, with 34 trains per hour (tph) operating for half-an-hour in the westbound direction during the morning peak, and between 27 and 30 tph during the rest of the peak. [5] The Elizabeth Line, which began most of its core operation from 24 May 2022, [6] provides interchanges with the Central line at Stratford, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road, Ealing Broadway, [7] and Bond Street, relieving overcrowding.


Central London Railway

Harry Bell Measures designed the surface buildings for the CLR, such as this one at Oxford Circus. Oxford Circus tube station - Central Line Entrance.jpg
Harry Bell Measures designed the surface buildings for the CLR, such as this one at Oxford Circus.

The Central London Railway (CLR) was given permission in 1891 for a tube line between Shepherd's Bush and a station at Cornhill, and the following year an extension to Liverpool Street was authorised, with a station at Bank instead of at Cornhill. [8] The line was built following the streets above rather than running underneath buildings, because purchase of wayleave under private properties would have been expensive, [lower-alpha 1] and as a result one line runs above another in places, with platforms at different levels at St Paul's, Chancery Lane and Notting Hill Gate stations. [9] The tunnels were bored with the nominal diameter of 11 feet 8+14 inches (3.562 m), increased on curves, reduced to 11 feet 6 inches (3.51 m) near to stations. [10] The tunnels generally rise approaching a station, to aid braking, and fall when leaving, to aid acceleration. [9]

The Central London Railway was the first underground railway to have the station platforms illuminated electrically. [11] All the platforms were lit by Crompton automatic electric arc lamps, and other station areas by incandescent lamps. Both the City and South London Railway and the Waterloo and City Railway were lit by gas lamps, primarily because the power stations for these lines were designed with no spare capacity to power electric lighting. With the white glazed tiling, all underground Central London Railway platforms were very brightly lit. The use of electric lighting was further made possible because the Central London was also the first tube railway to use AC electrical distribution [lower-alpha 2] and the substation transformers were easily able to provide convenient voltages to run the lighting. Earlier tube lines generated DC power at the voltage required to run the trains (500 volts).

The line between Shepherd's Bush and Bank was formally opened on 30 June 1900, public services beginning on 30 July. [12] With a uniform fare of 2d the railway became known as the "Twopenny Tube". [12] It was initially operated by electric locomotives hauling carriages, but the locomotive's considerable unsprung weight [lower-alpha 3] caused much vibration in the buildings above the line, and the railway rebuilt the locomotives to incorporate geared drives. This allowed higher-speed and lighter motors to be used, which reduced the overall weight of the locomotive as well as the unsprung weight. The railway also tried an alternative approach: it converted four coaches to accommodate motors and control gear. Two of these experimental motor coaches were used in a 6-coach train, the control gear being operated by the system used on the Waterloo and City Railway. [lower-alpha 4] The modified locomotives were a considerable improvement, but the motor coaches of an even lower weight were much better still. The CLR ordered 64 new motor cars [lower-alpha 5] designed to use Sprague's recently developed traction control system. The CLR was exclusively using the resulting electric multiple units by 1903. [13]

In July 1907, the fare was increased to 3d for journeys of more than seven or eight stations. The line was extended westwards with a loop serving a single platform at Wood Lane for the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition. A reduced fare of 1d, for a journey of three or fewer stations, was introduced in 1909, and season tickets became available from 1911. The extension to Liverpool Street opened the following year, providing access to the Great Eastern station and the adjacent Broad Street station by escalators. The Central London Railway was absorbed into the Underground Group on 1 January 1913. [14]

In 1911, the Great Western Railway won permission for a line from Ealing Broadway to a station near to the CLR's Shepherd's Bush station, with a connection to the West London Railway, and agreement to connect the line to the Central London Railway and for the CLR to run trains to Ealing Broadway. Construction of the extension from the CLR to Ealing Broadway started in 1912 [15] but opening was delayed by World War I. The CLR purchased new rolling stock for the extension, which arrived in 1915 and was stored before being lent to the Bakerloo line. The rolling stock returned when the extension opened in 1920. [16]

In 1912, plans were published for a railway from Shepherd's Bush to Turnham Green and Gunnersbury, [17] allowing the Central London Railway to run trains on London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) tracks to Richmond. The route was authorised in 1913 [18] but work had not begun by the outbreak of war the following year. [19] In 1919, an alternative route was published, with a tunnelled link to the disused L&SWR tracks south of their Shepherd's Bush station then via Hammersmith (Grove Road) railway station. [20] Authorisation was granted in 1920, [21] [19] but the connection was never built, and the L&SWR tracks were used by the Piccadilly line when it was extended west of Hammersmith in 1932. [22]

London Transport and the Second World War

On 1 July 1933, the Central London Railway and other transport companies in the London area were amalgamated to form the London Passenger Transport Board, generally known as London Transport. [23] The railway was known as the "Central London Line", becoming the "Central line" in 1937. [24] The 1935–40 New Works Programme included a major expansion of the line. To the west new tracks were to be built parallel with the Great Western Railway's New North Main Line as far as Denham. To the east, new tunnels would run to just beyond Stratford station, where the line would be extended over the London & North Eastern Railway suburban branch to Epping and Ongar in Essex, as well as a new underground line between Leytonstone and Newbury Park mostly under Eastern Avenue so as to serve the new suburbs of north Ilford and the Hainault Loop. [25] Platforms at central London stations were to be lengthened to allow for 8-car trains. [25]

Construction started, the tunnels through central London being expanded and realigned and the stations lengthened, but it proved impossible to modify Wood Lane station to take 8-car trains and a new station at White City was authorised in 1938. [26] The line was converted to the London Underground four-rail electrification system in 1940. [27] The positive outer rail is 40 mm (1.6 in) higher than on other lines, because even after reconstruction work the tunnels are slightly smaller.[ citation needed ] Most of the tunnels for the extensions to the east of London had been built by 1940, but work slowed due to the outbreak of the Second World War until eventually suspended in June. [27] The unused tunnels between Leytonstone and Newbury Park were equipped by the Plessey Company as an aircraft components factory, opening in March 1942 and employing 2,000 people. [28] Elsewhere, people used underground stations as night shelters during air raids. The unopened Bethnal Green station had space for 10,000 people. In March 1943, 173 people died there when a woman entering the shelter fell at the bottom of the steps and those following fell on top of her. [28]

Post war

Loughton station was rebuilt in the 1930s, with a central track accessed by two platforms for the Central line extension. Opening in 1940, it was not served by Central line trains until 1948. Today, the station is a listed building. Loughton station centre platform north.JPG
Loughton station was rebuilt in the 1930s, with a central track accessed by two platforms for the Central line extension. Opening in 1940, it was not served by Central line trains until 1948. Today, the station is a listed building.

Construction restarted after the war, and the western extension opened as far as Greenford in 1947 [31] and West Ruislip in 1948. [32] The powers to extend the line to Denham were never used due to post-war establishment of the Green Belt around London, which restricted development of land in the area. [32] The eastern extension opened as far as Stratford in December 1946, with trains continuing without passengers to reverse in the cutting south of Leyton. [33] In 1947, the line opened to Leytonstone, and then Woodford and Newbury Park. [34] Stations from Newbury Park to Woodford via Hainault and from Woodford to Loughton were served by tube trains from 1948. [32] South of Newbury Park, the west-facing junction with the main line closed in the same year to allow expansion of Ilford carriage depot. [35] The extension transferred to London Underground management in 1949, when Epping began to be served by Central line trains. The single line to Ongar was served by a steam autotrain operated by British Rail (BR) until 1957, when the line was electrified. [36] BR trains accessed the line via a link from Temple Mills East to Leyton. [37]

The Central line stations east of Stratford kept their goods service for a time, being worked from Temple Mills, with the Hainault loop stations served via Woodford. [37] The BR line south of Newbury Park closed in 1956 [35] and Hainault loop stations lost their goods service in 1965, the rest of the stations on the line following in 1966. Early morning passenger trains from Stratford (Liverpool Street on Sundays) ran to Epping or Loughton until 1970. [38] The single-track section from Epping to Ongar was electrified in 1957 [39] and then operated as a shuttle service using short tube trains. However, carrying only 100 passengers a day and losing money, the section closed in 1994, and is now used by the heritage Epping Ongar Railway. [40]

The entire Central line was shut between January and March 2003, after 32 passengers were injured when a train derailed at Chancery Lane due to a traction motor falling on to the track. The line was not fully reopened until June. [41] [42] In 2003, the infrastructure of the Central line 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 its responsibilities. [43]



Central line & London map.svg
The route of the Central line through the London Boroughs and the county of Essex

Railway line

The Central line is 46 miles (74 km) long and serves 49 stations. [3] [44] The line is predominantly double-track, widened to three tracks for short sections south of Leytonstone and west of White City; no track is shared with any other line, though some sections do run parallel to other routes. Total track length is 91.4 miles (147.1 km), of which 32.8 miles (52.8 km) is in tunnel; [3] [45] this track 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. [46]

The single-track line north of Epping, which closed in 1994, is now the Epping Ongar heritage railway. As of May 2013 shuttle services operate at weekends between North Weald and Ongar and North Weald and Coopersale. [47] These do not call at Blake Hall, as the station platform was removed by London Transport after the station closed, and the remaining building is now a private residence.

The section between Leyton and just south of Loughton is the oldest railway alignment in use on the current London Underground system, having been opened on 22 August 1856 by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR). Loughton to Epping was opened on 24 April 1865 by the ECR's successor, the Great Eastern Railway (GER), along with the section to Ongar. The Hainault Loop was originally the greater part of the Fairlop Loop opened by the GER on 1 May 1903. [48]

The line has three junctions:

The line has the shortest escalator on the London Underground system, at Stratford (previously at Chancery Lane), with a rise of 4.1 metres (13 ft) [49] and, at Stratford and Greenford, the only stations where escalators take passengers up to the trains. That at Greenford was the last escalator with wooden treads on the system until it was replaced in March 2014. They were exempt from fire regulations because they were outside the tunnel system. [50] [51]

The line has the shallowest underground Tube platforms on the system, at Redbridge, just 7.9 metres (26 ft) below street level, and the sharpest curve, the Caxton Curve, between Shepherds Bush and White City. [3]

List of stations

Open stations

StationImageDistance between stations (km) [52] Opened/ [53] services startedBranchNotes
West Ruislip National Rail logo.svg West Ruislip stn building.JPG n/a21 November 1948Ruislip branchConnects with National Rail services. Opened as Ruislip & Ickenham in 1906 by Great Western and Great Central Joint Committee (GW&GCJC), renamed West Ruislip (for Ickenham) in 1947; the suffix was later dropped. [54]
Ruislip Gardens Ruislip Gardens stn entrance.JPG 2.0421 November 1948Ruislip branchOpened in 1934 by GW&GCJC, main line services withdrawn 1958. [55]
South Ruislip National Rail logo.svg South Ruislip stn building.JPG 0.8621 November 1948Ruislip branchConnects with National Rail services. Opened as Northolt Junction by GW&GCJC in 1908, renamed South Ruislip & Northolt Junction in 1932, and renamed in 1947. [56]
Northolt Northolt station building.JPG 2.2821 November 1948Ruislip branchReplaced a nearby GWR station that had opened in 1907. [56]
Greenford National Rail logo.svg Wheelchair symbol.svg Greenford station entrance.JPG 1.7830 June 1947Ruislip branchConnects with National Rail services to West Ealing (in bay platform). GWR station opened in 1904. [57] The station was the last one to retain a wooden escalator, replaced in 2014 by the first incline lift on the Underground. [58]
Perivale Perivale station building.JPG 1.6930 June 1947Ruislip branchOpened by GWR as "Perivale Halt" in 1904, closed 1915–20; Halt suffix lost in 1922. [59]
Hanger Lane Hanger Lane stn building.JPG 2.1030 June 1947Ruislip branch
Ealing Broadway Elizabeth line roundel (no text).svg National Rail logo.svg Ealing Broadway stn 8th May 2022 02.jpg n/a3 August 1920Ealing branchConnects with District line, Elizabeth line and National Rail services. Opened by District Railway in 1879, link to main-line station opened in 1965/6. [60]
West Acton West Acton stn building.JPG 1.535 November 1923Ealing branch
North Acton North Acton stn entrance.JPG from Hanger Lane 2.49

from West Acton 1.77

5 November 1923Main routeGWR station opened in 1904, moved to its current position in 1913 and closed in 1947. [61]
East Acton East Acton Tube Station.jpg 1.113 August 1920Main routeRight-hand running ends some distance southeast of the station from White City.
White City White City stn entrance2.JPG 2.0623 November 1947Main routeConnects with Circle and Hammersmith & City lines from Wood Lane. Trains run right-handed through this station
Shepherd's Bush Overground roundel (no text).svg National Rail logo.svg Shepherd's Bush tube stn eastern entrance.JPG 1.1630 July 1900Main routeConnects with London Overground and National Rail services from Shepherd's Bush National Rail station. Refurbished in 2008. To the west of the station, right-hand running starts en route to White City.
Holland Park Holland Park stn building.JPG 0.8730 July 1900Main route
Notting Hill Gate Notting Hill Gate tube entrance 2020 south.jpg 0.6130 July 1900Main routeConnects with Circle and District lines.
Queensway Queensway tube station.jpg 0.6930 July 1900Main routeOpened as Queens Road; renamed 1 September 1946
Lancaster Gate Lancaster Gate stn entrance.JPG 0.9030 July 1900Main route
Marble Arch Marble Arch Underground Station.jpg 1.2030 July 1900Main route
Bond Street Wheelchair symbol.svg Elizabeth line roundel (no text).svg Bond Street station - entrance on Marylebone Lane.jpg 0.5524 September 1900Main routeConnects with Jubilee line and Elizabeth line, the latter since 24 October 2022.
Oxford Circus Oxford Circus tube station - Central Line Entrance.jpg 0.6630 July 1900Main routeConnects with Bakerloo and Victoria lines.
Tottenham Court Road Wheelchair symbol.svg Elizabeth line roundel (no text).svg Tottenham court underground station.jpg 0.5830 July 1900Main routeConnects with Northern line and Elizabeth line, the latter since 24 May 2022. Opened as Oxford Street; renamed 9 March 1908.
Holborn Holborn Tube Station - April 2006.jpg 0.8825 September 1933Main routeOriginally opened as a Piccadilly line station on 15 December 1906, Central line platforms opened later and station renamed Holborn (Kingsway); the suffix was later dropped.
Chancery Lane Chancery Lane stn northeast entrance.JPG 0.4030 July 1900Main routeRenamed Chancery Lane (Gray's Inn) 25 June 1934; the suffix was later dropped
St Paul's St Paul's stn entrance2.JPG 1.0330 July 1900Main routeOpened as Post Office; renamed 1 February 1937. Interchangeable from City Thameslink from walking distance.
Bank DLR no-text roundel.svg Bankwbankofengland.jpg 0.7430 July 1900Main routeConnects with Circle, District, Northern and Waterloo & City lines and DLR.
Liverpool Street National Rail logo.svg Elizabeth line roundel (no text).svg Overground roundel (no text).svg Liverpool Street Underground concourse entr.JPG 0.7428 July 1912Main routeConnects with Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, London Overground, Elizabeth line and National Rail services.
Bethnal Green Bethnal Green stn southwest entrance.JPG 2.274 December 1946Main route
Mile End Mile End stn entrance.JPG 1.644 December 1946Main route Cross-platform interchange with District and Hammersmith & City lines. Opened in 1902 for District Railway services. [62]
Stratford National Rail logo.svg DLR no-text roundel.svg Elizabeth line roundel (no text).svg Overground roundel (no text).svg Wheelchair symbol.svg Stratford station (7028902411).jpg 2.834 December 1946Main routeConnects with Jubilee line, London Overground, DLR, Elizabeth line with cross-platform interchange and National Rail services. Opened by Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) in 1839. [63]
Leyton Leyton stn building.JPG 2.095 May 1947Main routeOpened as Low Leyton by ECR in 1856, renamed in 1868. [64]
Leytonstone Leytonstone Station.jpg 1.625 May 1947Main routeOpened by ECR in 1856. [65]
Wanstead Wanstead Underground station, entrance.jpg from Leytonstone 1.7214 December 1947Hainault loopUsed during the war as an air-raid shelter and the tunnels as a munitions factory for Plessey electronics.
Redbridge Redbridge station entrance east.JPG 1.2214 December 1947Hainault loopDuring the war, the completed tunnels at Redbridge were used by the Plessey company as an aircraft parts factory.
Gants Hill Gants Hill stn southwest entrance.JPG 1.2714 December 1947Hainault loopDuring the war, it was used as an air-raid shelter and the tunnels as a munitions factory for Plessey electronics.
Newbury Park Wheelchair symbol.svg Newbury Park Tube station.jpg 2.3614 December 1947Hainault loopOpened 1903 on the GER Ilford to Woodford Fairlop Loop line. [66]
Barkingside Barkingside station building.JPG 1.1131 May 1948Hainault loopOpened 1903 on the GER Fairlop Loop, closed 1916–19. [67]
Fairlop Fairlop station building.JPG 1.2231 May 1948Hainault loopOpened 1903 on the GER Fairlop Loop. [68]
Hainault Wheelchair symbol.svg Hainault stn building.JPG 0.7531 May 1948Hainault loopOpened 1903 on the GER Fairlop Loop, closed 1908–30. [69]
Grange Hill Grange Hill stn entr.JPG 1.1221 November 1948Hainault loopOpened 1903 on the GER Fairlop Loop. [70]
Chigwell Chigwell stn building.JPG 1.3221 November 1948Hainault loopOpened 1903 on the GER Fairlop Loop. [68]
Roding Valley Wheelchair symbol.svg Roding Valley stn building.JPG 2.2821 November 1948Hainault loopTrains continue to Woodford. Opened 1936 by the LNER on the Fairlop Loop. [71]
Snaresbrook Snaresbrook station building.JPG from Leytonstone 1.5714 December 1947Epping branchOpened as Snaresbrook & Wanstead by ECR in 1856, renamed Snaresbrook for Wanstead in 1929, renamed for the transfer to the Central line. [64]
South Woodford Wheelchair symbol.svg South Woodford entrance west.JPG 1.2914 December 1947Epping branchOpened by ECR in 1856 as George Lane, and renamed South Woodford (George Lane) in 1937, current name from 1950. "(George Lane)" still appears on some of the platform roundels. [72]
Woodford Wheelchair symbol.svg Woodford Station.jpg from South Woodford 1.80

from Roding Valley 1.33

14 December 1947Epping branch/Hainault loopOpened by ECR in 1856. [65]
Buckhurst Hill Wheelchair symbol.svg Buckhurst Hill stn building.JPG from Woodford 2.3121 November 1948Epping branchOpened as a single line by ECR in 1856, moved slightly when line doubled in 1881/2. [73]
Loughton Loughton station building.JPG 1.8321 November 1948Epping branchOpened by ECR in 1856, moved when line was extended to Ongar in 1865, and again in 1940. [65]
Debden Wheelchair symbol.svg Debden Tube Station.jpg 2.0225 September 1949Epping branchOpened by GER in 1865 as Chigwell Road, renamed Chigwell Lane later the same year. Closed 1916–19, named changed when transferred to Central line. [74]
Theydon Bois Theydon Bois stn building.JPG 3.3425 September 1949Epping branchOpened by GER in 1865 as Theydon, renamed later the same year. [75]
Epping Wheelchair symbol.svg Epping station building2.JPG 2.5425 September 1949Epping branchOpened by GER in 1865. [76]

Former stations

Rolling stock

Former rolling stock

Illustration of Bank station in 1903 showing the original electric multiple units Central London Railway 1903 stock motor car.png
Illustration of Bank station in 1903 showing the original electric multiple units

When the railway opened in 1900, it was operated by electric locomotives hauling carriages with passengers boarding via lattice gates at each end. The locomotives had a large unsprung mass, which caused vibrations that could be felt in the buildings above the route. After an investigation by the Board of Trade, by 1903 the carriages had been adapted to run as trailers and formed with new motor cars into electric multiple units. [77] The Central London Railway trains normally ran with six cars, four trailers and two motor-cars, although some trailers were later equipped with control equipment to allow trains to be formed with 3 cars. [78] Work started in 1912 on an extension to Ealing Broadway, and new more powerful motor-cars were ordered. These arrived in 1915, but completion of the extension was delayed because of World War I, and the cars stored. In 1917, they were lent to the Bakerloo line, where they ran on the newly opened extension to Watford Junction. Returning in 1920/21, and formed with trailers converted from the original carriages, they became the Ealing Stock. [16] In 1925–28, the trains were rebuilt, replacing the gated ends with air-operated doors, allowing the number of guards to be reduced to two. [79] After reconstruction of the Central London Railway tunnels, the trains were replaced by Standard Stock transferred from other lines and the last of the original trains ran in service in 1939. [80]

Standard Stock behind a steam autotrain service at Epping in 1957 Epping Station auto-train geograph-2988854-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
Standard Stock behind a steam autotrain service at Epping in 1957

The Standard Stock ran as 6-car trains until 1947, when 8-car trains became possible after Wood Lane was replaced by a new station at White City. More cars were transferred from other lines as they were replaced by 1938 Stock. [81] In the early 1960s, there was a plan to re-equip the Piccadilly line with new trains and transfer its newer Standard Stock to the Central line to replace the older cars there, some of which had been stored in the open during the Second World War and were becoming increasingly unreliable. [82] However, after the first deliveries of 1959 Stock were running on the Piccadilly it was decided to divert this stock to the Central line, together with extra non-driving motor cars to lengthen the trains from 7-car to 8-car. 1962 Stock was ordered to release the 1959 Stock for the Piccadilly line. The last Standard Stock train ran on the Central line in 1963, [83] and by May 1964 all 1959 Stock had been released to the Piccadilly line. [84]

The single track section from Epping to Ongar was not electrified until 1957, prior to which the service was operated by an autotrain, carriages attached to a steam locomotive capable of being driven from either end, hired from British Railways, and an experimental AEC three-car lightweight diesel multiple unit operated part of the shuttle service Monday-Friday in June 1952. [39] Upon electrification, 1935 Stock was used, [85] until replaced by four-car sets of 1962 Stock specially modified to cope with the limited current.[ citation needed ] The section closed in 1994, and is now the heritage Epping Ongar Railway.

A shuttle operated on the section from Hainault to Woodford after a train of 1960 Stock was modified to test the automatic train operation system to be used on the Victoria line. As each 1967 Stock train was delivered, it ran in test for three weeks on the shuttle service. [86]

Current rolling stock

When the signalling on the Central line needed replacement by the late 1980s, it was decided to bring forward the replacement of the 1962 Stock, due at about the time as the replacement of the 1959 Stock. The signalling was to be replaced with an updated version of the Automatic Train Operation (ATO) system used on the Victoria line, the line traction supply boosted and new trains built. [87] Prototype trains were built with two double and two single doors hung on the outside of each carriage of the train, and with electronic traction equipment that gave regenerative and rheostatic braking. [88]

In accordance with this plan, the first 8-car trains of 1992 Stock entered service in 1993, [89] [90] and while the necessary signalling works for ATO were in progress, One Person Operation (OPO) was phased in between 1993 and 1995. [40] Automatic train protection was commissioned from 1995 to 1997 and ATO from 1999 to 2001, with a centralised control centre in West London. [3]

The trains are currently undergoing a refurbishment programme known as CLIP (Central Line Improvement Programme). The trains will have passenger information displays, wheelchair areas and CCTV installed. The programme, which includes updating motors, lighting, doors and seats, is being carried out at a new Train Modification Unit (TMU) in Acton and is expected to complete in late 2023. [91]


There are three depots: Ruislip, Hainault and White City. [1] White City depot first opened in 1900 when the initial line went into operation; Ruislip and Hainault depots were completed in 1939. During the Second World War, anti-aircraft guns were made at Ruislip Depot and the U.S. Army Transportation Corps assembled rolling stock at Hainault between 1943 and 1945. [92] As part of the construction of the Westfield London shopping centre, the depot at White City was replaced underground, opening in 2007. [93]


During the off-peak, services on the Central line are grouped by branch lines: trains on the West Ruislip branch run to/from Epping, while trains to/from Ealing Broadway run on the Hainault Loop. Services at peak times are less structured, and trains can run between any two terminus stations at irregular intervals (e.g. from Ealing Broadway to Epping). [94]

As of January 2020, the typical off-peak service, in trains per hour (tph), is: [94]

The above services combine to give a total of 24 trains per hour each way (one every 2 minutes and 30 seconds) in the core section between White City and Leytonstone. At peak times, the frequency increases further, with up to 35 trains per hour each way in the core section.

A 24-hour Night Tube service began on the Central line on 19 August 2016, running on Friday and Saturday nights. [95] Night tube services are:

Peak-time frequency

In September 2013, the frequency in the morning peak period was increased to 35 trains per hour, giving the line the most intensive train service in the UK at the time. [96] Before that date, the Victoria line held the record with 33 trains per hour; it regained it in May 2017 with an increased frequency of 36 trains per hour (one every 100 seconds) during peak periods. [97]

Future and cancelled plans

The Central crosses over the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines' shared Uxbridge branch near West Ruislip depot, and a single track linking the two routes was laid in 1973. The London Borough of Hillingdon has lobbied TfL to divert some or all Central trains along this to Uxbridge, as West Ruislip station is located in a quiet suburb and Uxbridge is a much more densely populated regional centre. TfL has stated that the link will be impossible until the Metropolitan line's signalling is upgraded in 2017. [98]

The Central line was the first Underground line to receive a complete refurbishment in the early 1990s, including the introduction of new rolling stock. [99] A new generation of deep-level tube trains, as well as signalling upgrades, is planned for the mid-2020s, starting with the Piccadilly line, followed by the Bakerloo line and the Central line. [100]

The proposed Crossrail 2 line, running from south-west to north-east London and due to open by 2030, was planned for a number of years to take over the Epping branch of the Central line between Leytonstone and Epping. [101] As of 2013 the preferred route options for the line no longer include this proposal. [102]

The Central line runs directly below Shoreditch High Street station and an interchange has been desired locally since it opened in 2010. The station would lie between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green, one of the longest gaps between stations in inner London. Although there would be benefits to this interchange, it was ruled out on grounds of cost, the disruption it would cause to the Central line while being built and because the platforms would be too close to sidings at Liverpool Street and would not be developed until after Crossrail is fully operational. [103]

The developers of the First Central business park at Park Royal, west London, were planning a new station between North Acton and Hanger Lane. This would have served the business park and provided a walking distance interchange with Park Royal station on the Piccadilly line. [104] This is not being actively pursued; London Underground said that the transport benefits of a Park Royal station on the Central line are not sufficiently high to justify the costs of construction. [105]

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The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving Greater London and some parts of the adjacent counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire in England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piccadilly line</span> London Underground line

The Piccadilly line is a deep-level London Underground line running from the north to the west of London. It has two branches, which split at Acton Town, and serves 53 stations. The line serves Heathrow Airport, and some of its stations are near tourist attractions such as Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace. The District and Metropolitan lines share some sections of track with the Piccadilly line. Printed in dark blue on the Tube map, it is the fourth busiest line on the Underground network, with over 210 million passenger journeys in 2011/12.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roding Valley tube station</span> London Underground station

Roding Valley is a London Underground station situated in Buckhurst Hill in the Epping Forest district of Essex, straddling the boundary between that council and Greater London. The station is on the Hainault loop of the Central line between Chigwell and Woodford stations. However, geographically it is midway between Woodford and Buckhurst Hill stations. It is located between Station Way and Cherry Tree Rise. Since 2 January 2007, the station has been in Travelcard Zone 4.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blake Hall tube station</span> Disused railway station in Greensted, Essex, England

Blake Hall is a disused former station on the London Underground in the civil parish of Stanford Rivers, and south from the village of Bobbingworth in Essex. It was latterly on the Central line, between North Weald and Ongar, but was originally served by the Epping to Ongar shuttle service branch line.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bond Street station</span> London Underground and Elizabeth line station

Bond Street is a London Underground and Elizabeth line station in Mayfair, in the West End of London. Entrances are on Oxford Street, near its junction with New Bond Street, and on Hanover Square.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leyton tube station</span> London Underground station

Leyton is a London Underground station in Leyton, in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, East London. Located on Leyton High Road, adjacent to the A12, the station is on the Central line between two stations assigned to two fare zones – Stratford and Leytonstone. It is in zone 3.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">London Underground rolling stock</span> Passenger trains that run on the London Underground

London Underground rolling stock includes the electric multiple-unit trains used on the London Underground. These come in two sizes, smaller deep-level tube trains and larger sub-surface trains of a similar size to those on British main lines, both running on standard gauge tracks. New trains are designed for the maximum number of standing passengers and for speed of access to the cars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenford station</span> London Underground & National Rail station

Greenford is a London Underground and National Rail station in Greenford, Greater London, and is owned and managed by London Underground. It is the terminus of the National Rail Greenford branch line, 2 miles 40 chains down the line from West Ealing and 9 miles 6 chains measured from London Paddington. On the Central line, it is between Perivale and Northolt stations while on National Rail, the next station to the south on the branch is South Greenford.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gants Hill tube station</span> London Underground station

Gants Hill is a London Underground station in the largely residential Gants Hill district of Ilford in East London. It is served by the Central line and is between Redbridge and Newbury Park stations on the Hainault loop. It is in Travelcard Zone 4. It is the easternmost station to be below ground on the London Underground network and the busiest on the Hainault loop.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East Acton tube station</span> London Underground station

East Acton is a London Underground station in East Acton in London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The station is on the Central line, between White City and North Acton stations, and in Travelcard Zone 2. Wormwood Scrubs, Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, Wormwood Scrubs prison and Imperial College Hammersmith branch are accessible from the station.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the London Underground</span> Aspect of history

The history of the London Underground began in the 19th century with the construction of the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway. The Metropolitan Railway, which opened in 1863 using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, worked with the District Railway to complete London's Circle line in 1884. Both railways expanded, the Metropolitan eventually extending as far as Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 km) from Baker Street and the centre of London. The first deep-level tube line, the City and South London Railway, opened in 1890 with electric trains. This was followed by the Waterloo & City Railway in 1898, the Central London Railway in 1900, and the Great Northern and City Railway in 1904. The Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) was established in 1902 to fund the electrification of the District Railway and to complete and operate three tube lines, the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway and the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, which opened in 1906–07. By 1907 the District and Metropolitan Railways had electrified the underground sections of their lines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Newbury Park tube station</span> London Underground station

Newbury Park is a London Underground station in Newbury Park, Ilford, East London. It is between Barkingside and Gants Hill stations on the Hainault loop of the Central line, in Travelcard Zone 4. The station was initially opened by the Great Eastern Railway on 1 May 1903 and subsequently transferred its services to the London & North Eastern Railway due to the amalgamation. Underground trains only started serving the station on 14 December 1947, operating via the Gants Hill tunnel. The line was extended to Hainault on 31 May 1948. The Grade II listed bus shelter designed by Oliver Hill opened on 6 July 1949. Lifts were fully installed at Newbury Park in November 2018 to provide step-free access to the station, approximately 10 years after TfL abandoned the project.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hainault tube station</span> London Underground station

Hainault is a London Underground station in Hainault, east London, England. The station is on the Central line between Fairlop and Grange Hill stations. Since 2 January 2007, the station has been in Travelcard Zone 4. It is also home to one of the three Central line depots.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chigwell tube station</span> London Underground station

Chigwell is a London Underground station in the town of Chigwell in the Epping Forest district of Essex. It is located on the Hainault Loop of the Central line, between Grange Hill and Roding Valley stations. Since 2 January 2007, the station is the only station outside Greater London in Travelcard Zone 4.

The London Transport Executive was the organisation responsible for public transport in Greater London, England between 1948 and 1962. In common with all London transport authorities from 1933 to 2000, the public name and operational brand of the organisation was London Transport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">London Underground 1900 and 1903 Stock</span>

The Central London Railway Stock were electric multiple units composed of trailers that had been converted from carriages designed to be hauled by electric locomotives with new motor cars. The Central London Railway opened in 1900 with electric locomotives hauling wooden carriages, but the heavy locomotives caused vibrations that could be felt in the buildings above the route. It was found that conversion to electric multiple units solved the problem, so new motor cars were bought and replaced all the locomotives by June 1903. Trains normally ran with six-cars, four trailers and two motor-cars. Some trailers were equipped with control equipment to allow trains to be formed with three cars.

The railway infrastructure of the London Underground includes 11 lines, with 272 stations. There are two types of line on the London Underground: services that run on the sub-surface network just below the surface using larger trains, and the deep-level tube lines, that are mostly self-contained and use smaller trains. Most of the lines emerge on the surface outside the Central London area.

The Hainault Loop was originally opened as the Fairlop Loop, a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) branch line of the Great Eastern Railway (GER). It once connected Woodford on the Ongar branch to Ilford on the Main Line, with an eastward connection for goods, excursions and stock transfers to Seven Kings. The loop opened to freight on 20 April 1903 and to passengers on 1 May 1903. In 1923, the GER was "grouped" into the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), who provided passenger services until December 1947. After this date, the route was electrified for London Underground services from both the Woodford and Leytonstone directions, the link to Ilford closed, and today it forms the greater part of the Hainault Loop on the Central line, having been served by Tube trains since 1948.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruislip Depot</span>

Ruislip depot is a London Underground traction maintenance depot on the Central line, and is situated between the stations of Ruislip Gardens and West Ruislip in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The depot is accessible from both ends, and was built for the Central Line extensions under the 1935-1940 New Works Programme. It was nearly completed by 1939, when the outbreak of the Second World War prevented further work. It was used as a factory for anti-aircraft guns during the war, and was finally opened in 1948. The main car shed has 16 tracks, and there is also a three-track car cleaning shed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hainault Depot</span> London Underground railway depot on the Central line

Hainault depot is a traction maintenance depot on the London Underground Central line, between Hainault and Grange Hill stations, now in the London Borough of Redbridge, England. Until boundary changes in 1998, part of the depot was in Epping Forest District. Construction began in 1939, but was delayed by the onset of the Second World War, and was not completed until 1948. It has stabled three generations of trains, Standard stock, 1962 stock and 1992 stock. It has also housed trains of the experimental 1960 stock, both when it was conventionally controlled and during trials of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in preparation for the construction of the Victoria line. Some of the 1967 stock destined for the Victoria line was also stabled at the depot while its ATO equipment was tested and commissioned on the Woodford to Hainault Branch.


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  1. To encourage the building of tube railways, the wayleave for building under streets was free.
  2. Power was generated at 5000 volts at 33+13 Hertz from six 850 kW generators at Wood Lane.
  3. The CLR locomotives had been designed such that the motor armatures were built directly on the axles. This was intended to reduce noise from gearboxes which would otherwise be necessary.
  4. Although the Board of Trade forbade this system being used on any future passenger railway, it was used in this case because the trains were experimental and were forbidden to carry fare-paying passengers.
  5. The CLR adopted the American term of 'car' rather than 'coach' with the introduction of the Electrical Multiple Unit.


Route map:

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