Waterloo & City Line

Map Colour:
First Operated: 1898
Type: Deep Level
Length: 1.5 Miles/ 2.5 km
No. of Stations: 2
Night Service: No
Current Stock: 1992 Stock  

The Waterloo & City Line operates between Bank & Waterloo and has no intermediate stops. It is the only London Underground Line to operate completely underground and have its depot completely underground, trains are removed and put into the depot using a crane through a hole near Waterloo Station. The primary purpose of the Waterloo & City line is to take commuters arriving at Waterloo Station into the City of London, as the line primarily caters to commuters it does not operate on Sundays and public holidays. It is the shortest London Underground line being only 2.37km (1.47 miles) long and journeys only take 4 minutes end to end.

In 1848 the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR) has reached Waterloo Station known then as ‘Waterloo Bridge’ however Waterloo is quite some distance from the City of London and travelling to the City from the South West became increasingly frustrating for passengers. The L&SWR has initially planned to extend its services to a site near London Bridge however high building costs in the area prevented this from happening. When the South Eastern Railway built its extension from London Bridge to Charing Cross a connection line was put in place to allow trains from the L&SWR to run through Waterloo to London Bridge by going through the station concourse however issues between the two rail companies caused the link to fall into disuse at the end of 1867, the South Eastern Railway built a station nearby called Waterloo Junction now known as Waterloo East however through ticketing was refused and the connection always remained unsatisfactory.

An early proposal for an underground from railways was an underground pneumatic railway to Great Scotland Yard with a possible branch to Embankment, despite construction work starting on 25th October 1865 it became clear that there was not enough funding and construction work ended. Another proposal in 1881 was for a surface line to Queen Street near Mansion House however high building costs caused this proposal to collapse.

A survey carried out by the Corporation of the City of London during it’s 1891 Census found that approximately 12,000 daily arrived into London via Waterloo and proceeded to travel into the City by some means, this pushed for more rail proposals to link Waterloo to the City. In November 1891 a bill for an underground railway from Waterloo to Mansion House with the capital of £500,00 was deposited. There were many petitions against the railway and the London County Council also tried to insist that the tunnels should be built to a larger diameter to allow all trains coming into Waterloo to continue through the tunnels and have a subterranean terminus station build in the City instead however despite all of this the Waterloo & City Railway Act obtained Royal Assent on 27th July 1893.

Work started on 18th June 1894 which began by building staging in the Thames near Blackfriars Bridge before piles were driven for a cofferdam and two vertical shafts built, tunneling eventually began in November 1894 using the Greathead system and compressed air working. On the north side of the River the line was built to converge with the north bank of Blackfriars Bridge near Blackfriars Station where it then runs underneath Queen Victoria Street and partly underneath the Circle and District Lines to Mansion House where it the continues to follow Queen Victoria Street into the new City Station. The Central London Railway (CLR) had obtained an Act of Parliament in 1891 for their new railway line (now part of the Central Line) which included a station at Bank however the Act of Parliament required them to build a large booking office and public subways to the surrounding streets as well as connections to nearby stations, despite the construction being finish after the Waterloo & City Railway the CLR still had to build the station in time for the W&CR’s completion which they did. The CLR had always named the station ‘Bank’ during their plans and when the City & South London Railway (C&SLR) opened here on 25th February 1900 they used the name ‘Bank’ and when the CLR opened on 30th July 1900 they also used the name ‘Bank’ and built connections to the C&SLR and W&CR.

The Waterloo & City Railway was formally opened on 11th July 1898 however the line wasn’t opened to the public until 8am on 8th August 1898. The line was operated by the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR) from the opening and on the 1st January 1907 the L&SWR the W&CR was absorbed outright by the L&SWR and therefore the W&CR ceased to exist. As part of the Railways Act 1921 all mainline railway companies in Great Britain were grouped together and the L&SWR became part of the Southern Railway, given that the line was now part of the “big four” railway companies it was not taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) in 1933 when all the rest of the underground railways in London were taken over by the LPTB making this line the only underground railway in London not part of the LPTB at the time. Despite the line not being part of the LPTB it was still shown on most versions of the LPTB underground map.

In 1934 the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) proposed that the line should have a new station built at Blackfriars to connect with the District Railway and extended to Liverpool Street and Shoreditch before being joined up to the East London Railway and terminating at New Cross and New Cross Gate however nothing ever came of these proposals. New 5 car Class 487 trains were ordered in 1939 from English Electric and were delivered through 1940, the line closed for the weekend from 25th October 1940 in order for the old trains to be removed and for electric third rail work to be carried out for the line in preparation for the new trains to begin service on 28th October 1940 and upon re-opening City station was renamed Bank to confirm with the name being used by the LPTB. On 1st January 1948 all main line railways in Britain were nationalised to form ‘British Railways’ which included this line. On 4th July 1957 British Rail let a contract for new sloping tunnels to be built for two travolators to be installed in them later however whilst work was underway the Government imposed heavy cuts in expenditure on the railways and therefore it was decided to suspend the work as it had no financial benefit, the engineers were told  to suspend work on 11th December 1957 although enabling work including a sewer diversion continued. It was announced on 10th July 1958 that due to the financial restrictions no longer being in place the work would resume. The two new travolators were unveiled on 27th September 1960 and came into public use immediately, these have since been replaced with newer travolators. In 1982 British Rail was split into three passenger sectors and trains on the line became part of the ‘London & South Eastern’ sector which was known as ‘Network SouthEast’ and trains were later repainted into the Network SouthEast livery.

Towards the end of the 1980s the decision was made to acquire new rolling stock for the line and it was decided that the new vehicles would come as an extension to the rolling stock acquisition programme currently taking place on the Central Line despite being a part of London Transport and not British Rail, the new rolling stock known as ‘Class 482’ trains also required a new fourth rail to be installed on the line. Whilst this was taking place the new Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station was also being planned, this work meant that the Armstrong Lift would be buried underneath the new terminal and would no longer be able to be used however this didn’t matter as the new rolling stock had longer carriages and therefore would not be able to use the Armstrong Lift anyway. During a line closure between 28th May and 19th July 1993 a new aluminium fourth rail was added to the line to allow the new rolling stock to operate.

On 1st April 1994 British Rail was privatised and broken down into a number of franchises, it was decided that the line would transfer to London Underground Ltd. however trains remained in Network SouthEast Livery until the 2006 refurbishment. On 1st April 2006 the line closed for refurbishment, all the trains were removed and refurbished and all track and station were upgraded including the addition of platform humps at both stations to allow wheelchair users to use the line without problems. During this refurbishment the original steel third rail was replaced with an aluminium rail.

Rolling Stock

1992 Tube Stock

The line currently uses ten 2 car 1992 Tube Stock Trains initially known as Class 482 trains when owned by British Rail however these operate as five 4 car sets. The line closed on 28th May 1993 and replaced by a replacement bus service so that all the old rolling stock could be removed and the new 1992 stock (Class 482) trains could be brought in and track & signalling work for the new trains could be undertaken, the line reopened with the all new trains on 19th July 1993. The trains are similar to those used on the Central Line and as a result of this they were tested on the Central Line before being introduced to the Waterloo & City Line, they are identical in appearance however these units do not have ATO installed and instead continue to use tripcocks as well as other differences due to modifications to the Central Line stock and therefore these trains are no longer interchangeable. The trains were delivered with passenger buttons to open the doors despite there being no need for them on the line as there are only two stations. The trains remained in Network SouthEast Livery despite transferring to London Underground in 1994 however they were removed during line refurbishment between 1st April and 11th September 2006 and were repainted into London Underground corporate livery and had new seat covers fitted and all grab rails were repainted.


Waterloo is the only depot for the Waterloo & City Lane, when trains terminate at Waterloo Station they proceed into the depot and trains start from the depot before picking passengers up at the departures platform at Waterloo. Like the rest of the Waterloo & City Line Waterloo Depot is entirely underground although there is an open portal above one of the depot tracks which allows for trains to be removed from the depot one carriage at a time. The depot used to have a water powered train lift to remove trains known as ‘The Armstrong Lift’ after the manufacturer however the lift was not big enough for the longer carriages on the Class 482 trains and has since been removed to make way for the Waterloo Eurostar Terminal.


Current Stations on the Waterloo & City Line:
Station Name Opened Additional Information
Waterloo 8th August 1898
Bank 8th August 1898 Originally opened as ‘City’, renamed on 28th October 1940.