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"Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone"

- The Windmills of Your Mind
Michel Legrand / Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman

LogoLifts and Escalators

[last modified 2014-07-10]

Introduction

This page gives detailed information on the lifts and escalators to be found on the Underground. It does not cover DLR or Tramlink equipment because I do not have the relevant information. Lifts and escalators generally connect lines to each other or to the surface. Therefore they cannot, in general, be allocated to individual lines. Thus the list just shows individual stations, and does not attempt to go into any further detail.

At each station, the lifts and escalators are numbered (in two separate series of numbers). The numbers are usually displayed at the ends of the escalators.

Lifts and escalators normally go down towards the platforms. In a few cases the platforms are above street level and the service goes the other way; these are shown by ^ after the station name. Where they run in both directions, it is shown by # after the name.

Further information about lifts and escalators is included on a separate page.

History

The early Underground lines were all on or just below the surface, and stairs were sufficient for passengers. However, the first tubes were far too deep to expect passengers to walk up and down, and so lifts were installed, many stations surviving in their original form to the present day (though none of the equipment is original). The commonest arrangement was to place two lifts in a 7m (23') shaft and have either one or two lift shafts, though in some places a 9.1m (30') shaft was used that could accomodate three lifts, and Bank had individual shafts for each lift. The earliest lifts moved at about 0.6m/s (120' per minute), but these were gradually replaced by ones with higher speeds, 2.5m/s (500' per minute) being common and 4.1m/s (800' per minute) not being unknown.

Lifts had two disadvantages: they bunched the free flow of passengers into separate carloads and, until automation became practical, each one required an attendant (though he could sell or check tickets at quieter stations). Both of these problems were addressed by the invention of the escalator in 1892. The technology was not mature enough for use during the early days of tube line construction but, once it was, the underground railways took to it with joy. Unlike lifts, escalators allowed a free flow of passengers, could be left unattended, and acted as their own emergency staircases rather than requiring separate ones to be provided.

The first escalator-like device on the Underground was the experimental "Reno double spiral continuous moving track" briefly installed in one lift shaft at Holloway Road. Information about this is difficult to find - although once reported as almost ready for use, it was either never actually used or else only used on the opening day (1906-12-15) - but some of the parts have come to light and can be seen at the London Transport Museum "Depot" at Acton. It had a rise of 10.7m (35') and ran at about 0.5m/s (100' per minute). The two spirals both ran clockwise and were nested, the upwards one inside the downwards one. Unlike modern escalators where the treads return to their starting point along the bottom of the machine, a single set of treads were used for both directions; at top and bottom the connecting track ran under the flooring, meaning that passengers could not stay on for a round trip. The journey would take 43 seconds upwards, 47 downwards. Incidentally, a similar spiral, 30m (100') tall, had been installed at the Earl's Court Exposition from 1902 to 1906, and another contemporary design (never used on the Underground) placed the two spirals side by side with tangent horizontal sections linking them.

The first pair of true escalators (Otis type A) were installed at Earl's Court on 1911-10-04. They were of the "shunt" type where a diagonal barrier forced users off to the side at the end of their ride (the top of "down" escalators also had such a barrier so that they could be reversed if necessary). A total of 22 type A machines were installed, with one at Liverpool Street surviving until 1953 (Liverpool Street was also the first station to rely on escalators rather than lifts to provide the main access to the platforms). However, no doubt to the relief of users, the shunt style gave way to the modern "comb" arrangement. The first comb was installed at Clapham Common on 1924-12-01 as part of a batch of 65 Otis type LHD (nearly all of these have been modernized and are still in service) and all subsequent machines have had combs, though existing shunts remained in place for many years, possibly as late as 1953.

There was initial public fear of, and thus resistance to, escalators. To counter this, the clerk of works for the installation - a one-legged man known as "Bumper" Harris - rode up and down all day to show how easy they were to use (Harris was subsequently to make considerable wealth and retire to Gloucester to make cider and violins). Nevertheless some people remained skeptical, thinking they knew how he had lost his other leg. On the other hand, the newspapers reported that some passengers were breaking their journey at Earl's Court just to ride the escalator.

Because of their convenience, from 1912 until 1987 almost all new stations used escalators rather than lifts, and for the same reason many stations have been converted - Angel is the most recent example. Because escalators are angled while lifts are vertical, such conversion requires significant tunnelling, both for the shaft and for new connecting passages because one or both endpoints have moved. In the case of Angel, advantage was taken of this to replace the surface station with a new one about 100m nearer the commercial centre of the area. Similarly, the conversions of Green Park and Hyde Park Corner moved the entrances enough that Down Street (sited between them) could reasonably be closed. While there were some stations where the layout meant an escalator shaft had to be driven through an erstwhile lift shaft, equally there are many where the latter remained untouched after conversion. The most common use of such shafts was to hold emergency staircases. One much less common use is found at St.Paul's, where the former lift shaft first held the wartime headquarters of the Central Electricity Board and more recently became the logistics hub and storage depot for track renewals on the Central Line.

Traffic on "down" escalators tends to form a fairly steady stream, but that on "up" escalators tends to come in batches as each train arrives and so, in an attempt to save energy and reduce wear, some were run at half speed until a photocell detected passengers and triggered an increase to full speed. This technique (later used on a few short "down" escalators as well) was first used in 1934 and finally abandoned in 1974 as being uneconomic.

During World War II "down" escalators were stopped in quiet periods. Additionally, two escalators were removed (one from St. Paul's and the other from Holborn; the former was never replaced) for use at an underground factory at Corsham. An escalator intended for the upper flight at Highgate was used to replace one at Bank destroyed in bombing on 1941-01-11.

Photograph
Photo [562kb] and info

When the DLR was opened in 1987, most stations were close enough to ground level not to need escalators. However, lifts were included at every station to make the system wheelchair-accessible. Since then all new stations have been fitted with both lifts for step-free access and escalators for mass use.

The most successful escalator design was the Otis type M. The oldest of these date back to 1932 (those at Manor House and Wood Green are still in service). The MY variety was for rises up to 15m (50') and the MH variety for up to 27m (90'). Upgrades of these (indicated by suffixes) are still used in new installations, though some MY types have been replaced by the HD family. One escalator (Embankment number 7) is fitted with glass sides so that the workings can be viewed by the public (from the eastbound District Line platform).

King's Cross

On 1987-11-18 a fire started, probably from a dropped cigarette, underneath number 4 escalator at King's Cross St. Pancras. No effective measures were taken while there was time to do so; the fire spread to the wooden side panels of the escalator, and then a flashover incinerated the entire escalator shaft and the ticket hall above. A total of 31 people were killed. Although the escalator was fitted with water-fog apparatus that could have doused the fire or, if used regularly, washed away the fluff and grease that ignited, lack of effective management meant that it was not used.

As a result, smoking was completely banned on the system and at underground stations on other railways, and a large amount of money and effort has since been put into fire safety.

The LHD-M crisis

On 1999-08-12 there was an incident on escalator 4 at Oxford Circus where it allegedly stopped and then slipped backwards. Following this a programme of inspections of LHD-M escalators was set up, and on 1999-09-24 cracked drive shafts were found on two machines. All LHD-Ms were therefore taken out of service from about 15:00 that day. This caused various station closures during that month:

Fri 24th Sat 25th Sun 26th Tue 28th Wed 29th Thu 30th
Balham pm eve all most
Clapham Common pm eve all most
Clapham North pm all am pm all most
Clapham South pm am
Colliers Wood pm am pm all am
Old Street eve all am
Oval pm pm all most
Piccadilly Circus eve early
Shepherd's Bush (3) eve all early
South Wimbledon pm am pm all am
Stockwell eve
Tooting Bec pm am pm all am
Tooting Broadway pm am eve early
Tottenham Court Road eve early
am  =  opened between the two peak periods
pm = closed between the two peak periods
= open all day
early = open by morning rush hour
eve = closed after evening rush hour
most = opened after evening rush hour

Since then most work on the LHD-Ms was done without closing stations, though South Wimbledon did have to be closed for several weeks. A second set of problems, this time with MY-As, led to further closures during early 2000.

The 2002/3 Firefighters' strike

In late 2002 the Fire Brigades Union declared a series of strikes. LU decided that, while the lack of fire service cover was not a problem in general, there would be a significant risk if a lift failed with passengers in and then there was a fire. Therefore they decided that no lifts would operate during strike periods and those deep tube platforms that could only be practically reached by lifts would be closed, with trains not stopping.

The effects of these rules were:

The actual strikes took place as follows:

2002-11-13 at 18:00
(Wednesday)
 to  2002-11-15 at 18:00
(Friday)
    Chalk Farm and Holloway Road actually closed at 19:33. For much of this strike there was no service on the Circle Line, the Piccadilly Line east of Hammersmith, and the Waterloo & City Line. Other lines had problems because some drivers were refusing to work.
2002-11-22 at 09:00
(Friday)
 to  2002-11-30 at 09:00
(Saturday)
Mornington Crescent had already closed at 07:00 because of staff shortage.
2002-12-16 at 09:00
(Monday)
 to  2002-12-24 at 09:00
(Tuesday)
Planned but suspended
2003-01-21 at 09:00
(Tuesday)
 to  2003-01-22 at 09:00
(Wednesday)
2003-01-28 at 09:00
(Tuesday)
 to  2003-01-30 at 09:00
(Thursday)
2003-02-01 at 09:00
(Saturday)
 to  2003-02-03 at 09:00
(Monday)

Lifts

The following table gives the situation as at 2006-12-31 plus any subsequent changes known about.

The following types of lifts are currently in use. Unless stated otherwise, they are electrically powered.

Code Type[1]
aNew Otis
bNew High-Speed Otis
cNew Otis Automatic
dNew Wadsworth
eManual Wadsworth
gHibernian MIP (previously reported as Pickering hydraulic)
hEaston Elevator MIP hydraulic
iPorn & Dunwoody
jKone
kKone (but previously reported as Bennie MIP hydraulic)
lKone MIP
mOtis MIP
nTysson
oAccord
pNTD platform
qCotswold Lifts
rOtis (details unknown)
tUnknown MIP type
zUnknown inclined lift in a former escalator shaft
?Unknown type

[1] Some sources omit "new" from the type names; "MIP" stands for "Mobility Impaired Persons".

A code in upper case indicates that the escalator is out of service and being replaced, possibly with a different type.

In the following table, the type codes are given in lift number order, starting at number 1 (there is no consistent rule for numbering of lifts, other than that lifts in the same shaft normally have consecutive numbers). A dash (-) is used to indicate that that number is not in use. An asterisk (*) following the type code indicates that the lift with that number is owned by National Rail and is therefore not classed as an LU asset.

In most cases, pairs (or sometimes more) of lifts of the same type are operated with a common mechanism, usually in a single lift shaft. These are shown by including the type codes in brackets. Where there are side-by-side shafts between the same endpoints, these are included in <...> pairs.

Acton Town mm
Bank -[aaaa]gg
Belsize Park -<d[dd]>
Bermondsey j
Blackfriars tt
Borough [oo]
Brixton mm
Caledonian Road --[aa]
Canada Water jjjj
Canary Wharf (2) jjj
Canning Town # jjj
Cannon Street tt
Canonbury ??
Chalk Farm [aa]
Covent Garden <[DD][dd]>
Dalston Junction ?
Earl's Court --[dd]mm
East Ham mm
Edgware jj
Edgware Road (2) [jj]
Elephant & Castle <[d-][dd]>[aa]
Euston Square mm
Farringdon ttttt
Finchley Central mm
Fulham Broadway mm
Golders Green ^ jj
Goodge Street <[dd][dd]>
Gloucester Road --[dd]
Greenford ^ z
Green Park kkkjjj
Haggerston ^ ??
Hainault ^ mmp
Hammersmith (2) ll
Harrow & Wealdstone q*q*q*q*
Hampstead <[bb][bb]>
Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 ett
Hendon Central m
Highbury & Islington ??
Hillingdon ^ hh
Holland Park [dd]
Holloway Road [dd]
Hounslow East ^ mm
Hoxton ^ ??
Kennington [oo]
Kilburn ^ m
King's Cross St. Pancras mmm??mmm?mm
Kingsbury ??
Lambeth North [dd]
Lancaster Gate [dd]
London Bridge ?*jjj
Morden mm
Mornington Crescent [aa]
North Greenwich jjjj
Oakwood m
Paddington ??
Pinner mm
Queensway [cc]
Regent's Park [cc]
Russell Square [ddd]
Shadwell (1) [oo]
Shoreditch High Street ^ ??
Southfields ?
Southwark jj
Stratford ?*?*?*ii ????? ????? rr
Tottenham Hale n
Tufnell Park [dd]
Walthamstow Central mp
Wapping [oo]
Waterloo ?*jj?
Wembley Park mmmmm
West Ham # jj-m
Westminster jjjjj
Wood Lane (2) ^ <jj><jj>

Escalators

The following table gives the situation as at 2006-12-31 plus any subsequent changes known about.

The following types of escalator are currently in use. All are electrically powered.

Manufacturer Type Code
Otis HD-B a
Otis HD-C b
Otis LHD-M c
Otis Unknown d
Otis MH e
Otis MH-A f
Otis MH-B g
Otis MY h
Otis MY-A i
Ascinter Otis RA-C j
O&K RTV Compact k
O&K LUL1 l
O&K LUL2 m
O&K LUL2J n
O&K RTHD o
O&K RTHDM4 p
Kone HTE3 µ
Kone Unknown q
Kone PSX r
APV Baker PH s
APV Baker PH-T §
APV Baker PS t
APV Baker PSX u
CNIM 34L v
CNIM 76L w
CNIM RTP1 x
CNIM RTP2 y
CNIM RTP3A z
J.E. Hall þ (out of use and walled up)
Unknown type being installed ?

A code in upper case indicates that the escalator is out of service and being replaced, possibly with a different type.

There are two angles of escalator shaft. The standard arrangement is for both shaft and machine to be at an angle of 30° (9m vertical climb per 18m of length). However, those shafts that originally contained type A machines, plus two other parallel shafts at Liverpool Street and Oxford Circus, are at an angle of 26°23' (8m vertical climb per 18m of length) with otherwise standard escalators modified to climb at that angle[2]. Normal running speed for escalators is for the steps to move at 0.737m/s (145' per minute); since the vertical speed is half this for a 30° slope, it can be seen that escalators take much longer than lifts to climb the same distance.

In the following table, the type codes are given in escalator number order, starting at number 1. The following codes are also used:

-    number not used
/ number used for a fixed staircase
* not known whether number unused or used for a staircase
: narrow unnumbered stairway
\ unnumbered stairway the same width as an escalator
= very wide gap (unnumbered)
+ covered over gap and supports left for a future escalator (unnumbered)

The codes are arranged in groups using the following notation:

[...]    escalators in the same shaft or otherwise parallel and sharing physical infrastructure
(...) escalators in the same 26°23' shaft, including individual escalators with their own shaft
<...> closely spaced parallel shafts connecting the same endpoints
{...} special situation described at the bottom of the main table

To reduce confusion the codes representing escalators numbered 10 or 20 are underlined.

It may seem curious to number fixed staircases as if they were escalators, and even odder to note that only some staircases are so numbered. However, these staircases are arranged in such a way that they can be reasonably easily converted to escalators (such as King's Cross St. Pancras 2 or Brixton 2, where new escalators were installed in 2002 after staircases had been there for many years).

Escalators in the same shaft, or in parallel shafts, are numbered from left to right when looking upwards. For many years there was a policy of numbering the escalators at a station - or at least those installed at the same time - from the lowest bottom end upwards, but this rule has a number of exceptions and appears to have been abandoned in the last few years (for example, it applies at West Ham and Canary Wharf, but not at Warren Street and Canada Water).

[2] Some sources claim that, in some cases where an escalator is installed in a type A shaft, the lower landing is moved slightly to allow an angle of 27°18' (11m vertical climb per 24m of length). It has not been possible to definitely confirm or deny this. The claim has been made for type MY-A at Baker Street and type HD-B at various locations.

Alperton ^ --þ
Angel [vvv][www]
Archway [aa]
Baker Street (ii)[ii][ii]
Balham [c/c]
Bank [mmm][mm][pp][p:p][p:p][µ:µ][µ:µ]
Bermondsey [lll]
Bethnal Green [yyy]
Blackfriars ----????
Blackhorse Road [f/f]
Bond Street [cc][iii][iii]
Bounds Green [g/g]
Brixton [iai]
Camden Town [cc]
Canada Water [l=l][ll][l=l][l=l]
Canary Wharf (2) [l=l][l=l][l=l][l=l]l[lll=ll][+l=ll][l=l+]l
Canning Town # [kk][kk][ll][ll][ll]
Chancery Lane [t/t][asa]
Charing Cross [C/C]{[i/i][iii]}[iii]*
Clapham Common [c/c]
Clapham North [cc]
Clapham South [c/c]
Colliers Wood [c/c]
Earl's Court (aa)[h/h]
Embankment {(a)(a)(a)(a)cc}ccaa
Euston [ff][ff][ii][ii]
Gants Hill [yyy]
Green Park [sss][fff][iti][ii]
Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 [jj][jj]{jj/}
Highbury & Islington [i/i]
Highgate [g/g]{-g}
Holborn [aaa][bbbb]
Hyde Park Corner [b/b]
Kentish Town [uu]
Kilburn Park (a\a)
King's Cross St. Pancras [uru][sss][iri][aaa][aaa][aa=aa][??]
Knightsbridge [s§s][s/s]
Leicester Square [ggg][ggg]
Liverpool Street <(a)(a)(t)>[aaa][ttt]
London Bridge -----[ll][nn][fff][nnn][n=-n][nn][nnn]
Maida Vale (a\a)
Manor House [srs]
Marble Arch [b/b]
Marylebone [e/e]
Moorgate [aa]ii[ii]
North Greenwich {r=ll}llllll{r}
Notting Hill Gate [xx][y/y][y/y]
Old Street [cc]z
Oval [cc]
Oxford Circus {(dd)(d)}[cc]i[ii][ii][ii][ii]
Paddington (a\a)
Piccadilly Circus [ccc][ccc]<[cc][ccc]>
Pimlico [f/f]
Rotherhithe [aa/]
Seven Sisters [i/i][ff]
Shepherd's Bush (3) [aa]
Sloane Square rr
South Kensington [jjj][jj]
South Wimbledon [c/c]
Southgate [a/a]
Southwark [lll]<lll>[:ll]
St. John's Wood [g/g]
St. Paul's [a/a][gg/]
Stockwell [cc][/i]
Stratford qq[dd][dd]
Swiss Cottage [h/h]
Tooting Bec {[c/c]}
Tooting Broadway [ccc]
Tottenham Court Road [cc][ccc]a
Tottenham Hale [f/f]
Turnpike Lane [aaa]
Vauxhall [iri]
Victoria [fff][iui]
Walthamstow Central [i/i]
Wanstead [z/z]
Warren Street [t/t][sfs][f/f]
Warwick Avenue (a\a)
Waterloo [ccc][g/g][ff][ggg][ooo]<[nn][nn]>[lll][lll]
West Ham [lll]l[ll]
Westminster [lll][ll][ll][lll][lll][ll][ll]
Wood Green [srs]

Moving walkways ("Travolators")

Two stations have moving walkways installed (the term "Travolator" is a trade name of Otis). These are similar to escalators but do not have a vertical drop between the "steps".

Two Otis Travolators - in engineering terms they were essentially elongated Otis MY escalators - were installed at Bank on 1960-09-27 to connect the Waterloo & City Line platforms to the Central Line booking hall. Number 2 was taken out of use on 2000-07-16 and replaced by a CNIM machine, which came into use on 2001-06-25. Number 1 was taken out of use on 2001-06-21 and similarly replaced, coming into use on 2002-06-17.

They are 92.2m (302'6") long and slope at an angle of just over 8 degrees. Number 1 is on the left when heading upwards. There is no walkway between them, but there is a parallel shaft that can be used when neither travolator is moving in the desired direction. Originally this just contained a ramp, but it was later fitted with short flights of steps between shallower ramps.

Two O&K moving walkways ("passenger conveyors") were installed at Waterloo on 1999-09-24 to connect the Jubilee Line platforms to the Northern and Bakerloo Line ones. They are level; further details are not yet available. Number 1 is on the north side (on the left when travelling towards the Jubilee Line) and there is a walkway between the two.


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