Central Line

Map Colour:
First Operated: 1900
Type: Deep Level
Length: 46 Miles/ 74 km
No. of Stations: 49
Night Service: Partial
Current Stock: 1992 Tube Stock     

The Central Line runs east – west right through the centre of London and serves the City of London and the West End, at 76 km (47 miles) it is the longest London Underground Line and also the busiest with around 260 million passengers per year. The line runs from Epping in Essex and Hainault & Woodford in East London to Ealing Broadway in West London & West Ruislip in North West London and the name comes from the fact that it goes through Central London. It has the highest point to point speeds on London Underground reaching up to 70 mph.

Despite being originally incorporated in 1891 and a further extension authorised in 1892 the opening date of the then Central London Railway (CLR) was postponed to 1894 and 1899 then eventually opening on 27th June 1900. The CLR ran between Shepherds Bush and the Bank of England completely underground and after a proposal to extend it into a loop line via Charing Cross, Hyde Park and Hammersmith was rejected a western extension to Wood Lane was opened in 1908 where the line looped back into the City. In 1912 the CLR was also extended in the east to Liverpool Street and to the west again over Great Western Railway (GWR) Lines to Ealing in 1920.

After the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board the CLR was renamed the ‘Central London Line’ on 1st July 1933 and then simplified to Central Line on 23rd August 1937. Tunnels were originally built at a diameter of 11′ 8.25″ but were expanded and realigned in the 1930s and stations were lengthened. The line was converted to 4th rail electrification in 1940 but due to the way the tunnel had been enlarged the tunnels were no longer round and for clearance purposes the positive rail had to be an unusual shape which meant the top contact surface is 40mm (1.6″) higher than normal which is still the case today. Because of this at most of the Central Lines Deep Level Stations the insulating pots can be seen standing on cement mounds and all 92 stock trains have special positive shoe detectors that are able to lift higher than normal, due to this and the fact that 92 stock trains have no tripcocks due to ato operation and clearance problems with their gearboxes they cannot run on any other lines. The high positive rail is only seen on the CLR section of the railway between White City and Liverpool Street.

The sections of the railway under the City of London follow the surface streets above to take advantage of the government allowing railways to do so free of charge rather than going underneath buildings which means just as the roads above there are very sharp curves and bends between Liverpool Street and St Pauls, the Central Line platforms at Bank station itself are very curved so you can’t see one end of the platform from the other and due to this leave very large gaps between the trains and the platforms, more so from 2 of the 4 doors per carriage. The doors which are furthest away from the platform depends on the platform and the ‘Mind The Gap’ Announcement is particularly stressed at Bank. The line was unofficially known as the ‘Twopenny Tube’ by many people due to the fact that for many years the line has a fare of 2d (two old pence).

In 1912 plans were published for an extension from Shepherds Bush to Gunnersbury with stations at Hammersmith Grove, Peddenswick Road, Rylett Road, Stamford Gardens, Turnham Green and Heathfield Terrace and would have allowed trains to run on to Richmond, this route was authorised in 1913 but work never started before WW1. In 1919 an alternative route was published which instead used the disused London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) tracks south of Shepherds Bush to Hammersmith and Turnham Green, this route was authorised in 1920 but work never started and in 1932 the Piccadilly Line took over the L&SWR Lines west of Hammersmith.

As part of the ‘New Works Programme’, in June 1935 London Transport announced proposals to extend the Central Line from North Acton to West Ruislip by adding two additional GWR tracks for Central Line use as well as a further extension to Denham although the latter was abandoned due to the establishment of the Metropolitan Green Belt around London which restricted development in the area. They also proposed an extension eastwards from Liverpool Street to somewhere where it will connect with the Loughton and Grange Hill Lines so that trains could possibly run from those areas direct to the West End and beyond with passing over the busy London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), it was proposed to perhaps run the line to somewhere near Leyton and Newbury Park to achieve this. In December 1946 the eastern extension opened as far as Stratford with trains reversing in a temporary reversing facility at Drapers Field in Leyton and the line to Woodford and Newbury Park opened in 1947. The LNER line from Newbury Park to Ilford closed in 1947 and the Central Line took over the line from Newbury Park to Woodford in 1948 as well as the Woodford to Buckhurst Hill section.

In 1947 an extension from North Acton to Greenford opened where trains were terminating in the bay platform, the line was extended further to West Ruislip opened in 1948. The line never went to Denham due to the Metropolitan Green Belt and the bay platform at Greenford is now used by National Rail Trains from Paddington.

In 1949 the line was extended even further east to Epping taking over the line from British Rail, the line went even further in 1957 taking over British Rail lines to Ongar. Short platforms at Blake Hall & North Weald Stations and limited power supply east of Epping meant that trains from London couldn’t run through to Ongar and so they terminated at Epping with a shuttle to Ongar initially operating from Loughton although later from Epping. The expected levels of use never materialised and the line started losing money and so was closed on 30th September 1994 and sold to the Pilot Group. The connection at Epping was removed shortly after closure but the rest of the line remained intact and is now used by a heritage passenger rail service known as the Epping Ongar Railway owned by Epping Ongar Railway Ltd. The EOR started in October 2004 and runs from Ongar to Coopersale where it turns back, the line stops at North Weald although not at Blake Hall which was removed in 1981 after the closure of the station.

On 25th January 2003 a train derailed at Chancery Line after a traction motor fell onto the track injuring 32 passengers, the line was closed to determine the cause and to make the appropriate train modifications. In March of the same year a limited service was running on either side of the affected area which eventually covered all stations at a reduced frequency on 12th April 2003 with a full service running again by the end of the month. The Waterloo & City Line briefly closed at the same time but quickly reopened after modifications to their small fleet of trains were carried out.

Another train derailed at points east of the westbound platform at White City on 11th May 2004 but this was a rather minor incident with no reported injuries, the line was closed between Marble Arch and North Acton whilst the cause was being investigated. Three carriages derailed on the westbound line between Mile End and Bethnal Green at about 9am on 5th July 2007 due to a roll of tarpaulin from a storage yard close to the line, the line was closed between Liverpool Street and Leytonstone and re-opened 2 days later.

A Central Line train struck a track-side object near Holland Park on 31st October 2012, the line was closed between Marble Arch and White City and caused severe delays on the rest of the line. There were no reported injuries but 200 people had to be rescued from stuck trains.

Rolling Stock
From opening in 1900 the line used electric locomotive hauling cars with large unsprung weight, these proved unsatisfactory and caused a huge amount of vibration. The trains were replaced in 1903 with motor cars with the existing cars being adapted for use a trailers in the newly formed Electric Multiple Units. The rolling stock was in need of replacing by the 1920s but the new Standard Stock were too large for use in the Central Line tunnels so instead it was decided to modernise the existing fleet, the end gates were removed and replaced by more passenger areas and two single leaf sliding doors were added to each side of the cars. Additional trains were also purchased for the opening of the Ealing Broadway extension which were also briefly used on the Bakerloo Line Watford extension.

In 1939 the tunnels were enlarged and the electrical supply modified to allow for Standard Stock trains displaced from the Northern Line to run on the line and all 1900/03 and 1920 Stock Trains were replaced. However by the 1950s the trains were becoming increasingly unreliable and they planned to replace them with production versions of the prototype 1960 Stock trains although they instead decided to go with new 1962 Stock trains which were identical to the 1959 Stock, these operated until replacement in the 90s by 1992 Stock Trains which still run today.

The Epping – Ongar Branch was not electrified until 1957 prior to which they were run by steam-hauled coaches by BR, once electrified the line ran two car 1935 Stock trains and later replaced with four car 1962 Stock trains modified for the limited current which ran until closure in 1994.  The 1967 stock previously used on the Victoria Line were used on the Hainault – Woodard section until 1984 which was converted to Automatic Train Operation (ATO) to trial the system for the Victoria Line.

The line currently uses 8 car 1992 Stock trains which were gradually introduced from April 1993 to February 1995 and was completed on 17th February 1995 and was the first London Underground line to have automated announcements. The line was fitted with automatic train operation (ATO) in 1996 and was brought into service in sections.

In August 2011 a refresh of the trains started which included new seat covers featuring the new London Underground Moquette, modified window frames, new lighting and changes to the front ends of the driving cars which are now majority instead of majority black.




White City  


Current Stations on the Central Line:
Station Name Opened Additional Information
West Ruislip 21st November 1948 Terminus. Opened as West Ruislip (for Ickenham), suffix later dropped.
Ruislip Gardens 21st November 1948
South Ruislip 21st November 1948
Northolt 21st November 1948
Greenford 30th June 1947
Perivale 30th June 1947
Hanger Lane 30th June 1947
Ealing Broadway 3rd August 1920 Terminus
West Acton 5th November 1923
North Acton 5th November 1923
East Acton 3rd August 1920
White City 23rd November 1947 Trains run right handed through this station.
Shepherds Bush 30th July 1900 Underwent major refurbishment in 2008.
Holland Park 30th July 1900
Notting Hill Gate 30th July 1900
Queensway 30th July 1900 Station originally opened as ‘Queens Road’, renamed on 1st September 1946.
Lancaster Gate 30th July 1900
Marble Arch 30th July 1900
Bond Street 24th September 1900
Oxford Circus 30th July 1900
Tottenham Court Road 30th July 1900 Station originally opened as ‘Oxford Street’, renamed on 9th March 1908.
Holborn 25th September 1933 Station originally opened as ‘Piccadilly’ on 15th December 1906, renamed with opening of Central Line platforms on 25th September 1933 to ‘Holborn (Kingsway), the suffix was later dropped.
Chancery Lane 30th July 1900 Renamed ‘Chancery Lane (Grays Inn) on 25th June 1934, the suffix was later dropped.
St. Paul’s 30th July 1900 Originally opened as ‘Post Office’, renamed on 1st February 1937.
Bank 30th July 1900 Underground connection to Monument Station.
Liverpool Street 28th July 1912
Bethnal Green 4th December 1946
Mile End 4th December 1946 Cross platform interchange with the District and Hammersmith & City Line.
Stratford 4th December 1946 Cross platform interchange with National Rail services to Liverpool Street, Ilford, Romford, Brentwood and Shenfield.
Leyton 5th May 1947
Leytonstone 5th May 1947
Snaresbrook 14th December 1947
South Woodford 14th December 1947 Originally opened as ‘South Woodford (George Lane)’, suffix dropped late 1947.
Woodford 14th December 1947 Terminus of the Hainault Loop
Wanstead 14th December 1947
Redbridge 14th December 1947
Gants Hill 14th December 1947
Newbury Park 14th December 1947
Barkingside 31st May 1948
Fairlop 31st May 1948
Hainault 31st May 1948 Terminus of the majority of trains on the Hainault Loop.
Grange Hill 21st November 1948
Chigwell 21st November 1948
Roding Valley 21st November 1948
Buckhurst Hill 21st November 1948
Loughton 21st November 1948
Debden 25th September 1949
Theydon Bois 25th September 1949
Epping 25th September 1949 Terminus

Former Central Line Stations:
Station Name Opened Service Withdrawn Additional Information
Wood Lane 14th May 1908 22nd November 1947 Through platforms opened on 3rd August 1920
British Museum 30th July 1900 24th September 1933
North Weald 25th September 1949 30th September 1994
Blake Hall 25th September 1949 31st October 1981
Ongar 25th September 1949 30th September 1994