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The Kinks

LogoWaterloo & City Line

An Independent Tube

[Last modified: 2022-04-11]

Rolling stock


The Waterloo & City Railway was created as a subsidiary of the LSWR to allow main-line passengers to reach the city. It remained in the hands of that railway and its successors until 1994 when it was passed to LU (since when it has been handed around between line managements rather like "pass the parcel").

The line was originally built with a central power rail, level with the running rails, at about 520 V. Like the GN&CR - but unlike the other two independent tubes, which started with locomotives - the W&CR from the outset used trains with motors in passenger vehicles and no locomotive. This was not "multiple-unit" working, where only low-voltage control signals are sent from the driving cab to each car; rather, power ran directly from the driver's controller to all the motors, using rooftop wires to supply the other motored car. (Incidentally, during construction electric locomotives running on overhead power were used to haul excavated clay from the workface, rather than the ponies used on other lines.)

The LSWR later chose to electrify its surface lines differently, using an outside rail at 600 V; this became the standard third-rail system on the SR and its successors, and was installed on the Waterloo & City, together with new rolling stock, in 1940. When these trains were replaced in turn by 1992 Tube Stock in 1993, the LU four-rail system was installed (even though the line was not transferred to LU until the following year).

The line has mostly had a quiet history, but was closed for several months following a bomb hit in 1940. When it reopened, service was initially limited to the peak hours and Saturdays; full service was resumed 1941-04-15. The line has never been operated on Sundays apart from a stretch from 1943-03-07 to 1947-02-23, during the 2012 Olympics, and a few special cases: on 2013-07-14 and 2013-07-28 a service was provided because the Northern Line was closed.

The line is known as "the Drain" to its users. It is believed that the term originally applied to the sloping subway with stairs that led to the surface at Bank (this is not the tunnel containing the Travolators but, rather, a parallel one) but over time it transferred to the line as a whole. Incidentally, the engineer responsible for the "Trav-o-lator" project (its original name) was L.A.Drain.


Since there are only two stations on the line, locations are not given.

key to symbols

1898-08-08 Opened [W&CR]
1907-01-01 W&CR bought out by the LSWR
1940-10-25 Closed for power rail relocation
1940-10-28 Reopened [SR]
1940-12-09 Closed due to bomb damage
1941-03-03 Reopened [SR]
1975-11-23 Closed by flooding due to burst main
1976-01-12 Reopened [NR]
1992-08-08 Closed for resignalling and to install the fourth rail
1992-09-07 Reopened [NR]
1993-05-28 Closed to convert to four-rail power
1993-07-19 Reopened [NR]
1994-03-31 Closed [end of NR service]
1994-04-01 Transferred to LU ownership with Central Line management
1994-04-05 Reopened [start of LU service]
1996-04-03 Closed for essential works (mainly new drainage at Waterloo)
1996-04-15 Reopened
2001-12-16 Transferred from Central Line to Bakerloo Line management
2003-01-25 Closed following train problems on the Central Line
2003-02-18 Reopened
2004-06 Transferred from Bakerloo Line to East London Line management
2006-03-31 Closed for track replacement and other renewal work
2006-09-11 Reopened
2007-12-09 Transferred from East London Line to Central Line management
2020-03-19 Closed (Covid-19)
2021-06-04 Reopened[1]
2021-12-22 Closed (Covid-19)
2022-01-04 Reopened

[1] The official press release said that the line would re-open on Monday 2021-06-07, but trains actually ran in service on the previous Friday afternoon. Initially services only operated between 06:07 to 10:13 and 15:23 to 19:11 on Mondays to Fridays. On 2021-11-22 this expanded to all day Mondays to Fridays.


The line consists of twin tubes, 3.70 m (12'1¾") in diameter, between the two endpoints (it runs under the Circle Line from Blackfriars to Mansion House). South of Waterloo station is a small underground depot.

At Bank the tracks are either side of an island platform, but at Waterloo it was necessary to use side platforms to leave room for the pillars holding up the main-line station.

At Bank the station was originally connected to the Central Line station by a long sloping foot tunnel continuing in the same direction as the tracks (also meaning the platforms could be further west). This later had shallow steps added, making the intermediate slopes slightly gentler. In 1960 a pair of Travolators (see the Vertical page) were added in a parallel tunnel. In 2018 lifts and escalators were also added.


The line is a simple shuttle service, and is normally closed on Saturday evenings and Sundays (it has been open for special services such as during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012). At Waterloo trains use depot siding number 5 as a turnback siding.

End-to-end running time is 4 minutes. The service is 12tph.


Diagram CBD


[Distances are not related to the Ongar-based system.]

key to notation

Locations are listed down the page in the northbound direction.

311797 0.00 [-] [south end of Waterloo Depot]
311799 0.198 [=26SN25=] [Z1] Waterloo
324810 2.226 [V7=8V] !%[Z1] Bank


There is a small 7-track depot in a covered cutting at Waterloo, used for all normal servicing. Any other work requires lifting trains in and out with a crane from the road that crosses over the depot.


There are no connections to any other line.

Until the construction of Waterloo International station, there was a hoist on the west side of the main-line station, connecting to the main lines and to the eastbound tube east of the station. When the Bakerloo Line was being constructed, there was a proposal to link the two by extending the hoist siding.

Rolling Stock

The line is operated by 10 modified units of 1992 Tube Stock - each unit is 2 cars, but units are always coupled in pairs when in service (a single unit has only one cab and may only operate in the depot, and longer trains will not fit in the platforms). No other stock may be operated on the line.

On 2003-01-25 a derailment on the Central Line caused the line to be closed while all 1992 Tube Stock trains underwent checks.

Four battery locos were provided for the 2006 refurbishment work, and were named "Walter", "Lou", "Anne", and "Kitty".

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