Welcome to london-railfan.info
Railfanning London‘s Railways

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Visitors to London who are also transport enthusiasts (‘railfans’) sometimes ask for advice as to the ‘best’ things to see on London’s railway network. This page is part of a guide which aims to answer that question.

If this is the first time you have reached these pages then it is best to go to the Opening Page which sets the scene, explains the difference between the small and the large profile trains, offers advice on the best type of ticket to buy and photography tips.

Alternatively, it is possible to view everything on one page


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Northern City Line
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Class 313 train at Moorgate station. . Tunnel Mouth Drayton Park station.
Class 313 train heading for Welwyn Garden City
at Moorgate‘s platform No.10.
. Entering the tunnel at Drayton Park.
Below / Above Ground

Below ground just south of Drayton Park - Moorgate.
Above ground the rest of the route.

Click map to see larger version in a new window! .

. Northern City Line Map; click image to see a larger version in a new window.
General Information

This is London‘s only deep level ‘tube’ line which was built for large profile trains. The southern terminus is at Moorgate (platforms 9 & 10) from where trains travel deep underground as far as Drayton Park, which is in an open air cutting and where the remains of a former depôt can be seen next to the northbound track.

Between Moorgate and Drayton Park the trains are powered via an electrified third rail; at Drayton Park they switch between third rail and overhead wire power supply systems and north of here they operate as ordinary surface suburban trains providing ‘all stations’ services along the East Coast Main Line - which is the route used by trains from London‘s Kings Cross station heading to faraway cities such as York, Leeds, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Although between 1939 and 1975 this route was used by small profile tube trains, present-day services are provided by British Railways designed Class 313 trains as part of the ‘Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern’ (TSGN) mainline railway franchise. Nowadays this line is not usually shown on UndergrounD maps but being an underground railway in London it simply had to be included in this guide.

New Trains

In circa 2018-2019 this line is expected to receive a fleet of new trains. To be known as Class 717, these will be six carriage versions of the fully walk-through air-conditioned Class 700 trains currently being built for the Thameslink service.


The first of the new Thameslink Class 700 trains at
London Blackfriars station during the pre-service testing period.
Image & license: Alex Nevin-Tylee / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 4.0
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:700110_-_London_Blackfriars_3T13.JPG
See caption for picture information.

Extra Information

The reason why this line has larger tunnels than all the other tube lines is because when it was built (in 1904 by The Great Northern & City Railway [GN&CR]) the aim was to allow trains from the Great Northern Railway (GNR) to reach the City area of London (ie: the Financial District). However the GNR did not favour this so the line remained physically isolated. In 1913 the GN&CR was purchased by the Metropolitan Railway who planned to connect it to either the Circle Line or the Waterloo & City Line. These plans also failed to materialise. Since it was owned by the Metropolitan Railway so it eventually became part of London Transport. Other attempts to extend this line - both to the north (as part of the Underground's Northern Line) and to the south (to Woolwich and Crystal Palace) also failed to happen. Instead in the 1960's the section between Drayton Park and Finsbury Park was closed so that its platforms at Finsbury Park could be used as part of the project to build the new Victoria Line. Finally in 1976 when the two GNR suburban services which still remained as part of the (then) British Railways were converted to electric traction the original plan to divert them to Moorgate was revisited. The new electric service was marketed under the name Great Northern Electrics. Whilst an extension south (perhaps to create a north-south cross London service via London Bridge or another major south London station) would seem logical this is not possible because the route is blocked by foundations from buildings in the Bank area to the south of Moorgate station.




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Small Profile ‘Tube’ Trains .
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Large Profile
‘Subsurface’ Trains
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this page
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Local Light Railways .
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This page last updated 31st December 2016.
E & OE.
© Copyright 2001-2017 Simon P Smiler and named image sources.
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