Northern City Line
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|Northern City Line|
|Type||Commuter rail, Suburban rail|
|Operator(s)||First Capital Connect|
|Rolling stock||British Rail Class 313|
|No. of tracks||Two|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV 50hz AC OHLE (Drayton Park and north)
750 V DC third rail (Drayton Park and south)
|Northern City Line|
The Northern City Line is a railway line from Moorgate to Finsbury Park in London, part of the Great Northern Route services. It is underground from Moorgate to Drayton Park, and runs in a cutting from there until meeting the East Coast Main Line south of Finsbury Park.
The line was formerly part of London Underground, and during its history has been part of both the Metropolitan and Northern lines (at one time referred to as the "Highbury Branch" of the Northern line), although it is connected to neither. It is now part of the National Rail network and is owned by Network Rail. It is served by London commuter trains run by First Capital Connect on the lines London Moorgate - Welwyn Garden City and London Moorgate - Hertford North - (Letchworth Garden City).
The Great Northern & City Railway was planned to allow trains to run from the Great Northern Railway line at Finsbury Park to the City of London at Moorgate. The tunnels were built large enough to take a main-line train, with an internal diameter of 16 feet (4.9 m), compared with those of the Central London Railway with a diameter less than 12 feet (3.7 m). However, the Great Northern eventually opposed the scheme, and the line opened in 1904 with the northern terminus in tunnels underneath Finsbury Park GNR station. It was originally electrified with an unusual fourth-rail system with a conductor rail outside both running rails.
The GN&CR was bought in 1913 by the Metropolitan Railway, which operated what are today the Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines and the former East London line. They had plans to link it to the Circle line and to the Waterloo & City line, but these were never fulfilled.
The GN&CR generating station closed when the Metropolitan Railway took over, and became the studio of Gainsborough Pictures. After lying derelict for many years, it was a temporary venue for the Almeida Theatre, and has since been redeveloped as apartments.
After the Metropolitan amalgamated with the other Underground railways as part of the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933, the line was renamed the Northern City Line and became part of the Edgware-Morden Line (which became the Northern line in 1937). As part of London Underground's "New Works" programme, plans were made to connect the Northern City Line to the surface at Finsbury Park, and then join suburban branches to Alexandra Palace, High Barnet and Edgware. The Highgate branch of the Edgware-Morden Line would be connected to this network north of Highgate. By the time the Second World War started, the Highgate link and electrification of the Barnet branch were well under way, but work on the Northern City link was postponed.
After the war there were proposals to extend the Northern City Line north and south. The London Plan Working Party Report of 1949 proposed several new lines and suburban electrification schemes for London, lettered from A to M. The lower-priority routes J and K would have seen the Northern City extended to Woolwich (Route J) and Crystal Palace (Route K), retaining the "Northern Heights" extensions to Edgware and Alexandra Palace. The lines would have run in small-diameter tube tunnels south from Moorgate to Bank and London Bridge. The "K" branch would have run under Peckham to Peckham Rye, joining the old Crystal Palace (High Level) branch (which was still open in 1949) near Lordship Lane. Nothing came of these proposals, and the Edgware, Alexandra Palace and Crystal Palace (High Level) branches were all closed to passengers in 1954. As a result the Northern City Line remained isolated from the rest of the network.
Services were cut back from Finsbury Park to Drayton Park in 1964 to make room for the Victoria line to use the low-level platforms at Finsbury Park. The former Piccadilly line platforms became the northbound Piccadilly/Victoria line platforms, and the former Northern City Line platforms the southbound Piccadilly and Victoria line ones. At the same time a change was made at Highbury and Islington, with the northbound Northern City line diverted to a new platform alongside the Northbound Victoria line, and the southbound Victoria using the former northbound Northern City platform, also providing cross platform interchange.
In 1970 the line was renamed Northern line (Highbury Branch) and the following year an agreement was made to transfer it to British Rail and connect it (as was intended by its original promoters) to the main line via surface platforms at Finsbury Park. By running commuter trains to Moorgate instead of King's Cross, congestion at King's Cross was relieved.
The last London Underground services ran in October 1975 and British Rail services commenced in August 1976, replacing services to Broad Street via the city branch of the North London Line. These BR services used the name "Great Northern Electrics". The track is now owned by Network Rail. Services are provided by First Capital Connect to Welwyn Garden City, and Hertford Loop Line services to Hertford North (some extending to Stevenage or Letchworth). The name "Northern City Line" has been revived to refer to the underground part of the route.
The Moorgate tube crash, the most serious accident on the London Underground, occurred at Moorgate on 28 February 1975, when a Highbury Branch train ran through the terminus at speed and crashed into the dead end of the tunnel beyond. The cause of the accident, which killed 43 people, was never determined.
Current rolling stock
The line is electrified with 25 kV AC overhead line as far as Drayton Park and 750 V DC third rail from there to Moorgate. Services are operated by Class 313 electric multiple units (EMUs), the only units certified for use on the line. In keeping with regulations for trains operating in single-bore tunnels, they have emergency doors at the end of each unit, and when operating on 750 V DC the two motor coaches are electrically separate as far as the traction supply goes. Unlike other contemporary units, there are no DC traction supply jumper cables between carriages. All Class 313 units operating over the NCL have their Driving Motor B vehicle at the London end, and whilst on DC are electronically limited to 30 mph, which is the maximum line speed. All stations are long enough to accept six car trains.
Tunnel penetration incident
On 8 March 2013, pile driving operations from a building site in East Road, Hackney, 13 metres above the tunnel, penetrated and obstructed the line between Old Street and Essex Road stations. A serious accident was averted by the actions of an observant train driver, and the line was restricted for several days for repairs. A subsequent investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch was highly critical of the lack of infrastructure protection by Network Rail and carelessness on the part of the site investigation contractor, the piling contractor, and the local planning authority.
These are the number of passengers using stations on the line from the year beginning April 2002 to the year beginning April 2011.
|Highbury and Islington||No data||No data||No data||4,809,098||4,751,391||4,173,338||5,668,133||7,625,235||11,800,800||14,695,098|
|Old Street||No data||No data||No data||733,612||813,166||827,762||1,326,797||1,434,785||1,336,722||1,396,260|
|The annual passenger usage is based on sales of tickets in stated financial years from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve month periods that start in April. Please note that methodology may vary year on year.|
- Network Rail: RUS, ECML Page 57 Accessed 19 Feb 2011
- "Northern line". Clive's UndergrounD Line Guides. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- J. Glover, "London's Underground", 7th edition, Shepperton, Ian Allan, 1991, p.61.
- Class 313 Traction Manual
- Network Rail Sectional Appendix, London North Eastern Region
- Network Rail, Rules Of The Plan, 2009, London North Eastern Region
- Rail Accident Investigation Branch - Penetration and obstruction of a tunnel between Old Street and Essex Road stations, London. Report name: 0213_R032014_Old_Street
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Northern City Line.|
- Underground Line Guide – Northern line – comprehensive history of the Northern line and its branches