LogoClive's UndergrounD Line Guides

"They're a ravenous horde -- and they all came on board
At Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney
(Who started that morning from Devon)"

- The Nightmare Song, from Iolanthe
W.S. Gilbert

LogoDistrict Line

A Subsurface Line

[Last modified: 2023-10-29]

Rolling stock


The Metropolitan District Railway was formed to construct the southern half of the Circle Line. It was initially intended to merge the company with the Metropolitan Railway (hence the similarity of names), but this never happened until they both came under state control (see the Circle Line for further details).

The first move of the MDR was to build the southwest part of the Circle, from Gloucester Road to Westminster, and to extend it over the next few years to Mansion House. At the same time, the line was extended west to West Brompton, as part of a plan to link to the West London Extension Railway (though this never took place), and to Kensington (Olympia), where a similar link did take place.

After the split with the Metropolitan, the District (as it soon became known) saw its main hope as a line to carry commuters from the rich suburbs of the southwest into the central area; subsequently this would be enhanced by extending into the countryside and encouraging new building.

However, the Hammersmith & City Railway and the LSWR also had their eyes on this area. The former was the first to arrive - in 1864 - at the significant traffic centre of Hammersmith, while the latter arrived there in 1869 via a new link from Kensington (Olympia) (on the West London Railway) to Richmond (already served by the LSWR Windsor line). Trains from Waterloo or the City ran northwards into Kensington (Olympia), then turned through a large curve under the Hammersmith & City into a station parallel to, and just west of, the latter's terminus. From there they curved back to the west to run through Chiswick, and south once again towards Richmond; trains off the Hammersmith & City Line ran over the western part of this route until the end of 1910 (see that page for details).

Unable to reach virgin territory of its own, the District chose to co-operate. A branch line reached Hammersmith in 1874, using a third station close to the other two, and a further extension in 1877 from there allowed District trains to run over the LSWR's tracks to Richmond. This service was an immediate success, and London's first "Garden Suburb" soon appeared at Turnham Green. As a result, in 1879 the District built another branch from the LSWR at Turnham Green to meet the GWR at Ealing Broadway, and for a short time from 1883 services ran all the way from Windsor to Central London (on GWR metals to Ealing Broadway, then District to Turnham Green, LSWR to Studland Road Junction west of Hammersmith, and finally District again from there).

Meantime the West Brompton branch had not been neglected, being extended to the river at Putney in 1880. The District then agreed with the LSWR to continue to Surbiton, but found itself unable to raise the money. Eventually the LSWR agreed to build a shorter extension to Wimbledon, to be operated by the District, in exchange for continued running rights to High Street Kensington - rights it never used. This extension remained owned by the LSWR and its successors until 1994, when it was finally transferred to LU.

Returning to the west, the next traffic centre to aim for was Hounslow. A branch was built from Acton to two points: Hounslow West, on the Bath Road, and Hounslow Town, the latter with the eventual aim of extending to the LSWR line at Twickenham. However, the LSWR objected violently to this plan, especially as the trains stealing its traffic would run along its own track to Hammersmith, so the Hounslow Town branch remained a short stub. Within a few years it was closed, but much later it was reopened for a while; during early 1905 trains would divide at Osterley, three coaches running to Hounslow Town and five to Hounslow West. On electrification a chord line was added to form a triangle and all trains reversed at Hounslow Town. However, to speed up the service the branch was closed and the station moved on to the direct route to Hounslow West.

The final traffic centre targeted was Uxbridge. This was done through the medium of two further companies: the Ealing & South Harrow as far as South Harrow and the Harrow & Uxbridge the rest of the way. The H&U realized that the District could not afford to build its line and so instead made an arrangement with the Metropolitan, who eventually opened the H&U route from Rayners Lane to Uxbridge (plus a connection of their own from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Rayners Lane) in 1905. The Ealing & South Harrow eventually opened in 1903 (in two stages, because of an earthslip on the northern section), serving as the testbed for electrification. The District retained running rights over the H&U, but further disputes between it and the Metropolitan delayed opening the final section from South Harrow to Rayners Lane until 1910. There was a proposal to link the E&SH to the GCR where they cross just west of Sudbury, so that District trains could run towards South and West Ruislip (now, though not then, on the Central Line); some initial construction was done and the embankment necessary to carry the connection is still visible on maps, though wooded over, but the connection itself was never made.

One other minor branch was built in the west, from Acton Town to South Acton on the North London Railway. Initially services ran from the latter station through to Hounslow, South Harrow, and sometimes Uxbridge, and a peak-hour service that divided at Acton Town into Uxbridge and Ealing Broadway portions, but from 1932-02-15 they were reduced to a shuttle between the two stations (known as the "There and back while the kettle boils" because of the short distance and quick turnaround at South Acton) and the branch is now closed. Except between 1905 and 1932-02-13 it was single track.

In 1897 authority was obtained to build express tunnels under the existing line from Mansion House to Earl's Court. These were never built as such, but the powers were used in building the Piccadilly Line.

In the east, the battles with the Metropolitan ended in 1884 with the completion of the Circle and the extensions to Whitechapel and the East London Line (though they were later to flare up again over the topic of electrification). In attempt to recover the costs of construction, the District cast its eye eastwards, with the idea of connecting to the LTSR. The two companies thus constructed 2 miles of new underground line from Whitechapel to Bow, with service starting in 1902. Trains ran through to various points at different times - even as far as Shoeburyness - with Upminster being the current terminus.

By 1898 it was clear that the subsurface companies had to electrify to regain traffic being lost to buses and trams (in later years the tubes would also be a threat). They therefore started experiments, with the first sample trains running in 1900 (using two outside power rails, one polarity on each side). The Metropolitan wanted to adopt the Ganz 3-phase AC system (using two overhead wires), but eventually the present LU system was adopted, the last steam trains on the District running in 1905. In the east, the electrification originally reached East Ham, with services being terminated there, before extension to Barking in 1908.

The longer platforms on the eastern section then resulted in an interesting usage. In the morning peak, long trains would run as far as Whitechapel - the last of the longer stations - after which they would divide; the two portions might both take the same branch west of Earl's Court or they might diverge. There was even a short period when the front section would wait at Hammersmith for another train, starting from Mansion House, which would couple on the back for the rest of the run to Ealing Broadway.

Meanwhile, the District was still close to bankruptcy, and in 1901 it was effectively taken over by the Yerkes group to become the core of the Underground group (eventually to become London Transport).

The line from Hammersmith to Turnham Green was so successful, with the Metropolitan and GWR also running trains along the LSWR, that the latter had to add a second pair of (non-electrified) tracks, opening on 1911-12-03. But, even as this was done, the electrified District so out-competed the other routes that the non-electrified tracks were soon virtually abandoned, with the last passenger service using them on 1916-06-03. In 1926 the LSWR tracks from Studland Road Junction to Gunnersbury were leased to the Underground group in perpetuity; ownership was formally transferred on 1950-01-23.

The next major change came in the 1930s. With Government-assisted finance, the Underground took over all four tracks of the LSWR route to Richmond, effectively abandoned by its owner, and rebuilt it in its present layout, with fast Piccadilly Line trains running between the District Line tracks all the way to Acton Town; the Piccadilly also took over the route to Uxbridge and some services to Hounslow. Because the Uxbridge line was legally two separate railways (see the H&U above) it was taken over in two stages: firstly to South Harrow, with a District shuttle continuing to run between there and Uxbridge, and then - just over a year later - the rest of the route. At the same time, the LTSR route east of Barking was quadrupled, and one pair of tracks electrified to allow the District to take over the local services. This was the last major change to the Underground under private control.

Because of concerns that bomb damage to the Embankment might flood parts of the District, floodgates were installed at each end of Embankment and just east of South Kensington. The Embankment gates are flaps hinged from the tunnel roof; they descend under their own weight and are raised by electric motor. Those at South Kensington, on the other hand, are raised and lowered vertically (also by electric motor) like a sluice gate.

One unusual service run by the District was the Southend excursions (with some services soon after extended to Shoeburyness). District trains, using coaching stock hauled by an electric locomotive, ran from Ealing to Barking, where an LTSR steam locomotive took over (for the first year or so the change was at Little Ilford or East Ham). The service varied over the years, but four return trains daily was typical, with extra trains on Sundays and in the summer. Surviving timetables show wide variation in stopping patterns: for example, a train might miss Ravenscourt Park, Gloucester Road, and South Kensington, call at all stations from Sloane Square to Aldgate East, then run non-stop to Leigh-on-Sea (on the edge of the Southend conurbation). The excursions were withdrawn in 1939. Incidentally, these were the first trains in Britain to be fitted with retention toilets (which were, nevertheless, locked out of use west of Barking).

The District regularly ran express trains, missing out various stations, right up until the 1960s. For example, many eastbound trains missed out Gloucester Road and South Kensington. Another more interesting situation was a service to Wimbledon not stopping at West Brompton: this would overtake the preceding train on the three-track stretch south (nominally west) of Earl's Court. The District also had the Underground's only named train: a morning express from South Harrow was officially "The Harrovarian" Through City Express[1] or more simply "The Harrovarian".

[1] The service ran from 1909-12-19 until the Piccadilly took over the branch on 1932-07-04, The name came into use from 1915-01-01 but it is not known exactly when it stopped being used. It always started from South Harrow at 08:12 and 08:15. The terminus varied over the years:

1909-12-19 1911-12-11 1913-03-31 1914-10-01 1918-12-16 1920-10-04 1921-10-03 1925-05-04 1928-03-05 1931-09-07
East Ham St.Mary's Whitechapel Mansion House Whitechapel Mansion House Bow Road Barking East Ham Barking


[Note that dates are not given for where the only MDR use of a section of track is for Circle Line services - these dates are on the Circle Line page.]

key to symbols

1838-06-04 [0] {Slough} to {Ealing Broadway} opened [GWR]
1838-12-01 + Hanwell, Ealing Broadway
1839-05-01 + Southall
1840-06-01 + Slough
1845- + Langley
1846-07-27 % Richmond [Richmond & West End Railway, later LSWR][Hammersmith & City Line note]
1849-10-08 0 Windsor & Eton Central to Slough opened [GWR]
1854-06-13 % Barking [LTSR][2]
1858-03-31 [2] Bromley-by-Bow to Barking opened [LTSR]
+ East Ham, Plaistow
1862-06-02 % Kensington (Olympia)
1863-01-10 0 [Praed Street Junction] to Edgware Road (1) opened [Metropolitan]
1864-05-01 + Hayes & Harlington
1868-10-01 3 High Street Kensington to [Praed Street Junction] opened [Metropolitan]
1868-12-24 0 Gloucester Road to South Kensington opened [Metropolitan]
3 South Kensington to Westminster opened
1869-01-01 [3] Richmond to [Studland Road Junction] opened [LSWR]
X Stamford Brook, Ravenscourt Park
1869-04-12 [0] West Brompton to Gloucester Road opened
1870-05-30 2 Westminster to Blackfriars opened
1870-08-01 0 Gloucester Road to South Kensington opened [District]
1871-03-01 + West Ealing
1871-07-03 0 {Earl's Court} to High Street Kensington opened
0 Blackfriars to Mansion House opened
1871-07-10 + South Kensington [District station]
1871-10-30 + Earl's Court
1872-02-01 0 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court opened [Outer Circle]
Earl's Court to Mansion House started [Outer Circle]
1872-08-01 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court started [Middle Circle]
Earl's Court to Mansion House started [Middle Circle]
1873-04-01 + Ravenscourt Park
1874-09-09 [1] Hammersmith (2) to Earl's Court opened
+ West Kensington
1877-09-17 + Upton Park
1877-06-01 Richmond to [Studland Road Junction] started [District]
0 [Studland Road Junction] to Hammersmith (2) opened
1878-02-01 = Earl's Court
1878-05-01 Turnham Green to Earl's Court started [Super Outer Circle]
1879-07-01 3 Ealing Broadway to Turnham Green opened
1880-01-01 % South Acton [N&SWJR] [3]
1880-03-01 2 Putney Bridge to West Brompton opened
1880-09-30 Turnham Green to Earl's Court withdrawn [Super Outer Circle]
1882-01-20 - Hammersmith (2) (fire)
1882-08-23 + Hammersmith (2)
1882-09-25 0 Tower Hill (1) to [Minories Junction] opened [Metropolitan]
1883-03-01 Windsor & Eton Central to Ealing Broadway started [District]
1883-05-01 [3] Hounslow Town to Acton Town opened
X Northfields
1884-03-03 0 St. Mary's to [St. Mary's Junction] opened [ELR]
1884-07-21 [0] Hounslow West to [Lampton Junction] opened
1884-08-09 = West Drayton
1884-09-08 = Slough
1884-10-06 [2] Mansion House to Tower Hill (1) opened[4]
[1] [Minories Junction] to St. Mary's opened[4]
0 [St. Mary's Junction] to Whitechapel opened
+ Cannon Street, Monument, Tower Hill (2), Aldgate East
1884-10-12 - Tower Hill (1)
1885-05-01 [2] Barking to Upminster opened [LTSR]
+ Dagenham East, Hornchurch
1885-09-30 Windsor & Eton Central to Ealing Broadway withdrawn
1886-03-31 Hounslow Town to [Lampton Junction] closed
1886-04-01 + Hounslow Central
1889-06-03 3 Wimbledon to Putney Bridge opened
1889-07-01 Wimbledon to East Putney started [LSWR]
1900-05-21 * Earl's Court to High Street Kensington [experimental train]
1900-11-06 Earl's Court to High Street Kensington withdrawn [electric train]
1900-06-30 Earl's Court to Mansion House withdrawn [Middle Circle]
1901-02-01 + West Ham
1902-02-01 St. Mary's to Whitechapel closed
1902-06-02 0 St. Mary's to Whitechapel reopened
[1] Whitechapel to Bromley-by-Bow opened
Bromley-by-Bow to Upminster started
1902-06-11 + Bow Road
1902-06-23 + Stepney Green
1903-03-01 0 Hounslow Town to [Lampton Junction] reopened
1903-06-23 1 Park Royal & Twyford Abbey to Ealing Common opened *
* Ealing Common to Acton Town
1903-06-28 3 South Harrow to Park Royal & Twyford Abbey opened *
1904-07-04 [1] Uxbridge to {Rayners Lane} opened [Metropolitan]
+ Ruislip
1905-01-01 * Uxbridge to {Rayners Lane}
1905-01-31 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court withdrawn [Middle Circle]
1905-06-12 [Kingsley Road Junction] to [Lampton Junction] closed
1905-06-13 0 [Kingsley Road Junction] to Hounslow Town opened *
* Hounslow West to Acton Town
0 Acton Town to South Acton opened *
1905-07-01 * Ealing Broadway to Ealing Common
* Acton Town to Whitechapel
1905-07-23 * Putney Bridge to High Street Kensington
1905-08-01 * Richmond to Turnham Green
1905-08-20 * Whitechapel to East Ham
1905-08-27 * Wimbledon to Putney Bridge
1905-09-25 + Ickenham
1905-09-30 East Ham to Upminster withdrawn
1905-10-09 + Barons Court
1906-05-26 + Eastcote, Rayners Lane
1908-04-01 East Ham to Barking restored *
1908-04-16 + Northfields & Little Ealing
1908-12-31 Earl's Court to Mansion House withdrawn [Outer Circle]
1909-05-01 [Kingsley Road Junction] to Hounslow Town closed
Hounslow Town to [Lampton Junction] closed
1909-05-02 1 Hounslow Central to Osterley reopened *
1910-03-01 Uxbridge to Rayners Lane started [District]
0 Rayners Lane to South Harrow opened *
1910-06-01 Barking to Southend started [District excursion service]
1910-10-01 Southend to Shoeburyness started [District excursion service]
1912-01-01 LTSR absorbed by Midland Railway, later LMSR
1912-02-01 + Stamford Brook
1912-08-05 + Ruislip Manor
1914-05-01 * Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court
1917-02-11 - Ruislip Manor
1919-04-01 + Ruislip Manor
1923-12-10 + Hillingdon
1926-11-01 High Street Kensington to Edgware Road (1) started [District *]
1931-07-05 - Park Royal & Twyford Abbey
1931-07-06 + Park Royal
1932-05-19 = Northfields
1932-07-03 South Harrow to Ealing Common withdrawn
1932-07-18 + Becontree
1932-09-12 Barking to Upminster restored *
+ Upney, Dagenham Heathway
1933-10-22 Uxbridge to South Harrow withdrawn
1934-03-25 = Osterley
1934-12-17 + Upminster Bridge
1935-05-13 + Elm Park
1938-04-30 - St. Mary's
1938-10-31 = Aldgate East
1939-04-30 Southend to Shoeburyness withdrawn [District excursion service]
1939-09-30 Upminster to Southend withdrawn [District excursion service][5]
1940-10-02 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court closed
1940-11-12 South Kensington to St. James's Park closed (bomb hit on Sloane Square)
1940-11-24 [1] South Kensington to St. James's Park reopened
1940-12-02 + Sloane Square
1941-05-04 Wimbledon to East Putney withdrawn [SR]
1946-12-20 0 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court reopened [ad hoc District service] [6]
1959-02-28 Acton Town to South Acton closed
1964-10-09 Hounslow West to Northfields withdrawn
1964-10-10 Northfields to Acton Town withdrawn
1967-02-04 - Tower Hill (2)
1967-02-05 + Tower Hill (1)
1986-04-07 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court started [full District service]
1989-10-29 - Mansion House (renovation and entrance works)
1991-02-11 + Mansion House
1994-04-01 Wimbledon to Putney Bridge transferred to LU ownership
1996-01-22 - Bayswater (refurbishment and congestion relief)
1996-03-18 + Bayswater
1999-03-13 - West Ham, eastbound only
1999-11-06 - West Ham, westbound only
1999-11-07 + West Ham, eastbound only
2000-06-30 + West Ham, westbound only
2000-08-27 - East Ham, westbound only
2000-09-23 + East Ham, westbound only
2001-02-02 Earl's Court to High Street Kensington closed (tunnel repairs)
Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court closed (in consequence)
High Street Kensington to Edgware Road (1) withdrawn (in consequence)
2001-05-13 0 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court reopened
0 Earl's Court to High Street Kensington reopened
High Street Kensington to Edgware Road (1) restored
2001-05-19 - Upton Park, westbound only
2001-06-11 + Upton Park, westbound only
2001-06-17 - Upton Park, eastbound only
2001-07-09 + Upton Park, eastbound only
2002-10-31 - East Ham, eastbound only
2002-12-01 + East Ham, eastbound only
2005-01-29 - Bayswater, eastbound only (refurbishment)
2005-02-12 - Bayswater, westbound only (refurbishment)
2005-02-13 + Bayswater, eastbound only
2005-02-28 + Bayswater, westbound only
2005-04-27 - Ealing Common, eastbound only
2005-05-07 ?+ Ealing Common, eastbound only
2005-05-08 - Ealing Common, westbound only
2005-05-21 ?+ Ealing Common, westbound only
2005-07-07 High Street Kensington to Edgware Road (1) closed (bomb on train at Edgware Road)
2005-07-29 3 High Street Kensington to Edgware Road (1) reopened
2006-03-31 Richmond to Turnham Green closed (track replacement at Gunnersbury)
2006-04-10 2 Richmond to Turnham Green reopened
2006-01-13 - Stamford Brook
2006-01-23 + Stamford Brook
2006-10-14 - Chiswick Park (westbound only)
2006-11-14 - Chiswick Park (eastbound only)
2006-11-15 + Chiswick Park (westbound only)
2006-12-13 + Chiswick Park (eastbound only)
2009-02-27 - Blackfriars (Thameslink 2000 work) [7]
2010-12-24 - Cannon Street
2011-01-10 + Cannon Street
2011-04-21 - Cannon Street (NR engineering)
2011-05-03 + Cannon Street
2011-07-22 High Street Kensington to Edgware Road closed (engineering work)
2011-08-24 3 High Street Kensington to Edgware Road reopened
2011-12-23 - Cannon Street (NR engineering)
2012-01-09 + Cannon Street
2012-02-20 + Blackfriars
2012-04-05 - Cannon Street (NR engineering)
2012-04-15 + Cannon Street
2013-06-14 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court closed (track replacement)
2013-06-23 0 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court reopened
2015-10-23 Ealing Broadway to Turnham Green closed (work at Ealing Broadway)[8]
2015-11-02 3 Ealing Broadway to Turnham Green reopened
2016-12-24 Acton Town to Gloucester Road closed/withdrawn (engineering work)
Wimbledon to Earl's Court closed (engineering work)
Richmond to Turnham Green closed/withdrawn (in consequence)
Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court closed (in consequence)
2016-12-31 8 Acton Town to Gloucester Road reopened/restored
7 Wimbledon to Earl's Court reopened
2 Richmond to Gunnersbury reopened/restored
0 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court reopened
2017-12-23 Ealing Broadway to South Kensington closed/withdrawn (engineering work)[9]
Wimbledon to Edgware Road closed (in consequence)
Richmond to Turnham Green closed/withdrawn (in consequence)
Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court closed (in consequence)
2017-12-31 11 Ealing Broadway to South Kensington reopened/restored
11 Wimbledon to Edgware Road reopened
2 Richmond to Turnham Green reopened/restored
2018-01-01 0 Kensington (Olympia) to Earl's Court reopened[10]
2020-03-18 - Bow Road (Covid-19)
2020-03-19 - Bayswater, Mansion House (Covid-19)
2020-03-20 - Gloucester Road, St. James's Park, Temple, Stepney Green (Covid-19)
2020-05-18 + Bayswater, Mansion House, Bow Road
2020-07-06 + Gloucester Road
2020-08-16 + St. James's Park
2020-08-24 + Temple
2020-09-01 + Stepney Green
2020-12-23 Ealing Broadway to Turnham Green closed (work at Acton Town)[11]
2021-01-04 3 Ealing Broadway to Turnham Green reopened
2021-08-03 Earl's Court to Aldgate East closed (bridge replacement at Embankment)
2021-08-13 13 Earl's Court to Aldgate East reopened

[2] Barking initially served the LTSR route via Forest Gate and Tilbury which opened on 1854-04-13. About 500 metres of this route parallels the LU line.

[3] South Acton was opened by the North & South Western Junction Railway, which was a joint venture of the LNWR, the Midland, and the North London Railway.

[4] A through service between Hammersmith (2) and New Cross (2) started on this date. From 1884-10-01 to 1884-10-05 trains ran on this service but did not carry passengers between Mansion House and St. Mary's. See the East London Line page for more details about this route.

[5] This is the date given in most sources for withdrawal. Stations beyond Upminster appear on maps until 1941, but there is no other evidence that the excursion trains lasted that long, and the intent may have been simply to show LTSR connections. Recent sources state that the services do not appear in the emergency timetables introduced on 1939-09-11 and so might have ended a few days before that.

[6] On the previous day, trains were used to carry children attending circus rehearsals at Olympia.

[7] Officially the closure commenced on Monday March 2nd, but the line was also suspended in this area over the weekend for engineering works.

[8] On the 26th to 30th, some trains ran from Ealing Common or Acton Town before the peaks and to one or the other after the peaks. None of these trains stopped at Chiswick Park.

[9] During this closure (except the 25th, when no trains ran) some Piccadilly Line trains stopped at all District Line stations between Hammersmith and Acton Town.

[10] On the 31st a few early morning trains entered service at Kensington (Olympia). No trains ran to the station.

[11] The service did run on 2020-12-31 and 2021-01-01 but there was no New Year's Eve overnight service.


From Bromley-by-Bow and Edgware Road, to west of Earl's Court on all three branches, is in cut-and-cover tunnel, though many stations and short sections are in open cuttings. Outside this part, the line is basically open-air. The 1:45 climb from gradient to viaduct at Bromley-by-Bow is allegedly the steepest sustained gradient on the Underground.

From Upminster to Bromley-by-Bow the line runs along the north side of the LTSR line; at Upminster it separates the latter from the Romford-Upminster branch. At Barking the eastbound and westbound tracks are each on the same island as the corresponding main-line track to allow cross-platform interchange; to do this, the westbound dives under both main-line tracks east of the station, and flies back over to the west.

At South Kensington there is a 433 metre long subway that leads to the Science Museum. It was originally intended as a tramway tunnel as well as a pedestrian one, though tramlines were never laid. From 1885-05-04 until 1886-11-10, when the last of the original South Kensington exhibitions closed, it was treated as a separate service and people using it required tickets allowing access; from then until 1908 it was only used in special circumstances. Since 1908 it has been free to all pedestrians, not just those using the station. In 1890 there was a proposal to use the subway as the southernmost part of a new underground line, the "Kensington & Paddington Subway", that would extend to meet the GWR just west of Paddington station. The project was renamed the "South Kensington & Paddington Subway" the following year and then withdrawn. (Though "subway" is generally thought of as an American term when applied to railways as opposed to foot tunnels, it has been used in the UK and is still part of the name of the Glasgow Subway.)

At High Street Kensington there are four platforms. Two are for through trains on both the Circle and District Lines, while the other two are bays for District trains terminating from the west (these cannot be reached directly from Gloucester Road).

Earl's Court has four platforms, forming eastbound and westbound islands. To eliminate conflicts, a diveunder takes westbound trains from High Street Kensington under both tracks to Gloucester Road, and another takes westbound trains to West Kensington and to Kensington (Olympia) under the eastbound track from Wimbledon. On the Wimbledon branch there are two westbound tracks until the tunnel mouth just before West Brompton, while there are two eastbound tracks from West Kensington East Junction (where the Kensington (Olympia) branch diverges) to shortly before the station.

The Kensington (Olympia) branch is single for the last part into the station. Both this branch and the main route to West Kensington have connections into the maintenance centre at Lillie Bridge, and these form the only routes for engineering trains on to the system.

From Barons Court to Acton Town the Piccadilly Line tracks run between the District Line ones; a diveunder junction is used for the Richmond branch. From Acton Lane Junction the latter runs on National Rail tracks.


The basic pattern of service, operated off-peak, is made up of four routes:

West terminus East terminus
Richmond Upminster
Ealing Broadway Upminster (Barking on Sundays)
Wimbledon Tower Hill
Wimbledon Edgware Road

each operating 6tph. Alternate Tower Hill trains are extended to Barking between the peaks on weekdays, 07:30 to 21:00 on Saturdays, and 11:00 to 19:00 on Sundays. In addition, a 3tph service runs between Kensington (Olympia) and High Street Kensington at weekends.

In the peaks there is an extra train on the Richmond route and three extra trains per hour between Wimbledon and Tower Hill; 2 of the latter are extended to Upminster and 4 to Barking.

There is one early morning service on Sundays from Acton Town to Edgware Road, and a late evening service Monday to Saturday from Edgware Road to Ealing Broadway.

Now that the Circle, District, and Hammersmith & City Lines use the same rolling stock, inter-line services have become more common. See the other two lines for the current examples.

The weekday service between Kensington (Olympia) and High Street Kensington was withdrawn in December 2011. Instead, 6 early morning trains start at Kensington (Olympia) and run to High Street Kensington, while in the mid-evening there are two trains (20 minutes apart) from High Street Kensington to Kensington (Olympia) and back again. When certain exhibitions are on, there is a 2tph service between about 10:00 and 23:00; this also means one morning and one evening service from Ealing Broadway to High Street Kensington. From 2023-03-19 to 2023-04-23 the weekend service was withdrawn because of faulty points.

The minimum running times from Earl's Court are:

Ealing Broadway 21 minutes
Edgware Road 12 minutes
Kensington (Olympia) 3 minutes
Richmond 20 minutes
Upminster 68 minutes
Wimbledon 19 minutes

Though services were normally limited to 8 cars in the early days, some experiments were done with 9, 10, and 11-car trains from 1908-02-10 to 1925-05-03. Between one and three long trains ran in the morning peak. Two shorter trains (e.g. 4 cars and 6 cars or 3 cars and 8 cars) were coupled at Barking or East Ham and ran as a long train to Whitechapel, missing some stations on the way. It was then uncoupled again and the two portions continued, usually to separate destinations. The front portion would not stop at St.&Mary's so as to get ahead of the rear portion.

In 1938, when Aldgate East station was being relocated (over a weekend) trains from the Tower Hill direction were terminated at Aldgate.

For many years some of the trains on the Edgware Road service were extended over the Circle Line to Moorgate, Liverpool Street, or Aldgate (usually the latter):

Covid-19: there have been three different service patterns.

2020-03-21 to 2020-04-07:

On 2020-04-05 the Upminster service terminated at Turnham Green with a separate 2½tph service between there and each of Richmond and Ealing Broadway. The Wimbledon service was 3tph.

2020-04-08 to 2020-05-05:

2020-05-06 to 2020-05-17:

Normal weekday services were restored on 2020-05-18. Weekend services switched to engineering work timetables on 2020-06-13 and then normal services on 2020-07-11.


      <= West                            1---P--D--2             East =>
                  4            3            H
               B\  \          /            / \
    N----------B-*--J-\   /--S      K     /   5            6 7
                       \ /  /        \   /     \          /   \
            \ /           /  /         /                           \
             *           3  /         /                             9
             t          /  /         J--0
                  R----G--/         /

= = quadruple track
~ = double track with Piccadilly tracks between
A = Aldgate East
B = Ealing Broadway
C = Acton Town
D = Edgware Road (1)
E = Earl's Court
G = Gunnersbury
H = High Street Kensington
J = East Putney Junction
K = Kensington (Olympia)
L = Gloucester Road
M = Minories Junction
N = Windsor & Eton Central
O = Barons Court
P = Praed Street Junction
R = Richmond
S = South Acton
T = Turnham Green Junction
U = Upminster
W = Wimbledon
X = St.Mary's Junction
c = Hounslow Central
e = Hounslow East
o = Osterley
t = Hounslow Town
w = Hounslow West
1 = Hammersmith & City Line to Hammersmith (1)
2 = Hammersmith & City Line and Circle Line via King's Cross St.Pancras
3 = North London Line (NR) to Stratford
4 = Piccadilly Line to Uxbridge
5 = Circle Line
6 = Circle Line via Aldgate
7 = Hammersmith & City Line via King's Cross St.Pancras
8 = Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport
9 = Link to East London Line
0 = Link to National Rail


key to notation

Locations are listed down the page in the eastbound direction.

SU967769 80=52 [=t] {Windsor & Eton Central}
SU978802 76=03 [v=be=wb=t] {Slough}
75=8 (Slough)
TQ013798 72=45 [=we=we=] {Langley}
037799 70=07 [=we=we= e] {Iver} [not open when this service ran]
061801 67=60 [=we=we= e] [Z6] {West Drayton}
097794 63=86 [=we=we=t] [Z5] {Hayes & Harlington}
126797 60=94 [=we=we=] [Z4] {Southall}
154805 58=17 [we =2we3=] [Z4] {Hanwell}
166807 56=92 [we =3we4=] [Z3] {West Ealing}
180810 55.51 [=we=we= t=tT=TT=] [Z3] Ealing Broadway
188810 54.56 [Hanger Lane Junction]
189803 53.94 [OP] [Z3] Ealing Common
194795 52.91 [W=we=E] [Z3] Acton Town
203787 51.72 [=WweE=] [Z3] Chiswick Park
207788 51.25 [Turnham Green Junction (eastbound)]
212788 50.83 [Turnham Green Junction (westbound)]
213788 50.71 [W=we=E] [Z2/3] Turnham Green
218788 50.18 [W=weE=] [Z2] Stamford Brook
225787 49.44 [W=we=E] [Z2] Ravenscourt Park
228787 48.22 [Studland Road Junction]
231787 48.81 [tunnel west portal]
234785 48.57 [tunnel east portal]
234785 48.51 [W=we=E] ![Z2] Hammersmith (2)
241783 47.84 [W=we=E] [Z2] Barons Court
247783 47.18 [OP] [Z2] West Kensington
46.80 [West Kensington East Junction and tunnel portal]
255785 46.27 [W=WE=E X] ![Z1/2] Earl's Court
262788 45.35 [=Wo=E=] [Z1] Gloucester Road
269788 44.63 [CP] [Z1] South Kensington
280786 43.39 [OP] %[Z1] Sloane Square
288791 42.35 [OP] [Z1] Victoria
296794 41.63 [OP] [Z1] St. James's Park
302796 40.87 [OP] [Z1] Westminster
303803 40.18 [OP] [Z1] Embankment
310808 39.48 [OP] [Z1] Temple
316808 38.72 [OP] %![Z1] Blackfriars
323809 38.12 [W1= E3=] [Z1] Mansion House
325809 37.81 [OP] ![Z1] Cannon Street
328808 37.47 [OP] [Z1] Monument
333807 36.97 [OP] (Tower Hill (2))
335807 36.80 [W=BE=] [Z1] Tower Hill (1)
36.43 [Minories Junction]
36.22 [former Aldgate East Junction]
36.16 [OP] ((Aldgate East))
36.08 [Aldgate East Junction]
338813 36.00 [OP] [Z1] Aldgate East
342816 35.49 [OP] (St. Mary's)
344817 35.45 [St. Mary's Junction]
347818 35.17 [IPX] [Z2] Whitechapel
355821 34.17 [OP] [Z2] Stepney Green
365825 33!07 [w=WE=e] [Z2] Mile End
371827 32.59 [OP] [Z2] Bow Road
370827 32.50 [tunnel mouth]
379826 31.58 [=0we0=1WE2=] [Z2/3] Bromley-by-Bow
392829 30.19 [w7=8eW1=2E] ![Z2/3] West Ham
399832 29.39 [=0we0=1WE2=3V] [Z3] Plaistow
411837 28.15 [=0we0=1WE2=] [Z3] Upton Park
424842 26.74 [OP] ![Z3/4] East Ham
432848 [Barking Station Junction]
443843 24.55 [ww=eW=we=VE=V X] [Z4] Barking
457842 23.08 [CP] [Z4] Upney
475845 21.21 [=0we0=1WE2=] [Z5] Becontree
489847 19.84 [CP] [Z5] Dagenham Heathway
502850 18.43 [=0we0=1WE2=3V] [Z5] Dagenham East
524857 16.17 [CP] [Z6] Elm Park
538862 14.66 [=0we0=1WE2=] [Z6] Hornchurch
549867 13.41 [CP] [Z6] Upminster Bridge
561868 12.19  [^1=1we2=3WE4=5Ev6=]  [Z6] Upminster
572871 11.08 [east end of Upminster Depot]

243792 47.81 [T=bns=] [Z2] Kensington (Olympia)
46.80 [West Kensington East Junction]
255785 46.27 [W=WE=E X] ![Z1/2] Earl's Court

194795 52.91 [W=we=E] [Z3] Acton Town
201792 51=90 [OP] [Z3] {South Acton}

181751 56.16 [=we=TT=TT=T] [Z4] Richmond
192767 54.05 [OPX] [Z3/4] Kew Gardens
198783 52.33 [CP] [Z3] Gunnersbury
203786 51.70 [Acton Lane Junction (LU/NR boundary)]
207788 51.25 [Turnham Green Junction (eastbound)]
212788 50.83 [Turnham Green Junction (westbound)]

248706 55.15 [b=bw=we=eT=TT=T X] [Z3] Wimbledon
253721 53.59 [CPX] [Z3] Wimbledon Park
247733 52.13 [CPX] [Z3] Southfields
246740 51.32 [East Putney Tunnel portal]
243743 51.04 [East Putney Tunnel portal]
50.72 [East Putney Junction]
244748 50.58 [=0we0=2WE1=] [Z2/3] East Putney
245759 49.43 [3=WE1=] [Z2] Putney Bridge
250766 48.49 [OP] [Z2] Parsons Green
254772 47.70 [OP] ![Z2] Fulham Broadway
254780 46.86 [=WE=sn=] [Z2] West Brompton
255785 46.27 [W=WE=E X] ![Z1/2] Earl's Court
45.34 [District/Circle junction]
255795 45=03 [=WE=V|=V] [Z1] High Street Kensington
252804 44=09 [OP] [Z1/2] Notting Hill Gate
258808 43=30 [OP] [Z1] Bayswater
266811 42=32 [OP] [Z1] Paddington
269814 41=82 [Praed Street Junction]
272817 41=50 [i=WE=o X] [Z1] Edgware Road (1)

122761 62.08 [CP] [Z5] {Hounslow West}
136759 60.64 [CP] [Z4] {Hounslow Central}
141761 [Kingsley Road Junction]
142762 59.90 [OP] [Z4] {Hounslow East}
144763 59.59 [Lampton Junction]
145771 58.93 [OP] [Z4] {Osterley}
58.63 [OP] ((Osterley & Spring Grove))
163787 56.50 [OP] [Z4] {Boston Manor}
55.74 ((Northfields & Little Ealing))
171792 55.59 [W=WE=e] [Z3] {Northfields}
175793 55.11 [W=WE=e] [Z3] {South Ealing}
194795 52.91 [W=WE=E] [Z3] Acton Town

141761 [Kingsley Road Junction]
143760 [junction of two closed branches]
144759 [=VV=] (Hounslow Town)

144759 60.09 [=TT=] (Hounslow Town)
143760 [junction of two closed branches]
144763 59.59 [Lampton Junction]

055841 73.03 [T=T=T] [Z6] {Uxbridge}
075850 70.93 [OP] ![Z6] {Hillingdon}
70.86 [OP] ((Hillingdon Swakeleys))
081858 69.85 [OP] [Z6] {Ickenham}
086864 69.11 [Ruislip siding entrance]
095869 68.00 [OP] [Z6] {Ruislip}
101872 67.28 [OP] [Z6] {Ruislip Manor}
112876 66.14 [OP] [Z5] {Eastcote}
129875 64.41 [OP] [Z5] {Rayners Lane}
131874 64.33 [Rayners Lane Junction]
143863 62.57 [OP] [Z5] {South Harrow}
144862 62.40 [OP] ((South Harrow))
148857 [-] [Proposed junction with GCR]
154855 61.15 [OP] [Z4] {Sudbury Hill}
168848 59.50 [OP0] [Z4] {Sudbury Town}
180837 57.93 [OP] [Z4] {Alperton}
187828 [OP] ((Park Royal & Twyford Abbey))
191822 55.95 [OP] [Z3] {Park Royal}
189812 54.88 [OP] [Z3] {North Ealing}
188810 54.56 [Hanger Lane Junction]


The line is served by two main depots. Upminster Depot is east of Upminster station, while Ealing Common Depot is north of the line between Acton Town and Ealing Common stations; trains may enter from the west end, and may leave in either direction. Some minor works are done at Lillie Bridge depot.

When C stock trains were used on the line, they were treated as part of the Hammersmith & City stock and maintained at Hammersmith Depot.


There is an unsignalled connection to the London Overground "route 3" ("GOBLIN") branch at the west end of Barking station.

Hammersmith & City Line trains run on the line from Aldgate East, where there is a flat junction, to Barking. There used to be a connection at St. Mary's Junction to the East London Line; see the latter for more details.

Circle Line trains run on the line eastbound from Gloucester Road Junction to Minories Junction and westbound from the latter to South Kensington. The section from Edgware Road to High Street Kensington is also shared with the Circle Line.

There is a connection to National Rail at East Putney, allowing trains from Clapham Junction to run southwards on the line. At Wimbledon, there are connections to Wimbledon Park Depot (NR, not LU); trains can enter from either end. In addition, at Wimbledon, eastbound trains can run from the up slow NR line on to the eastbound District, and from the westbound District on to the down fast NR line.

Both lines share tracks from Hanger Lane Junction to Acton Town. At Acton Town, trains can also leave Acton Works (south of the line east of the station) into the westbound platform, and westbound trains (either Piccadilly, District, or trains having used the turnback sidings east of the station) can enter a shunting neck and then reverse into the works.

There is a connection to National Rail at Gunnersbury, and trains may run from the southernmost platform at Richmond on to the eastbound NR line to Clapham Junction.

There used to be a connection to the eastbound Central Line at Ealing Broadway, and connections both ways to the Piccadilly Line between Earls Court and Barons Court, but these have all been lifted.

There are connections into Lillie Bridge depot at Kensington (Olympia), requiring trains to reverse in the station, and at the east end of West Kensington.

Rolling Stock

The line is operated by S7 stock. Previously the line used D stock on most routes with some strengthened by C stock, while the Edgware Road branch was exclusively C stock. The last C stock service ran on 2014-06-03 and the last D stock on 2017-04-21.

The Richmond and Wimbledon branches are restricted to S stock (and formerly C and D stock) only, though empty Tube stock may also run between Earl's Court and Putney Bridge. S stock and 6-car D stock did not fit into the former bay platform at Putney Bridge. Tube stock is forbidden on the remainder of these branches because they are shared with NR trains. A stock was forbidden because it was too large to fit.

The rest of the District Line is open to all stock except for historical restrictions on A stock, which could only operate when empty and only on certain sections:
- Upminster to Aldgate East (and thence Liverpool Street)
- Mansion House to Embankment (single 4-car units only)
- Embankment to Hanger Lane Junction
- Gloucester Road to Earl's Court via High Street Kensington (reversing)
- High Street Kensington to Edgware Road (single 4-car units only)

D stock consisted of two 3-car units. Single units had only one cab and could only operate in depots. Because the stock had stiff suspension it could only run on tracks maintained appropriately (the District Line and parts of the Piccadilly Line). 6-car trains did not fit in the stations from Notting Hill Gate to Edgware Road and thus were forbidden from carrying passengers north of High Street Kensington.

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