London Paddington station

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Paddington National Rail
London Paddington
Paddington Station-4269161-by-Oast-House-Archive.jpg
The Victorian Train Shed at London Paddington Station
Paddington is located in City of Westminster
Location of Paddington in United Kingdom London Westminster
Location Paddington
Local authority City of Westminster
Managed by Network Rail
Station code PAD
DfT category A
Number of platforms 13
Accessible Yes[1]
Fare zone 1
OSI Marylebone (National Rail)[2]
Lancaster Gate (London Underground)
Cycle parking Yes
Toilet facilities Yes
National Rail annual entry and exit
2011–12 Increase 33.74 million[3]
2012–13 Increase 34.14 million[3]
2013–14 Increase 35.09 million[3]
2014–15 Increase 35.72 million[3]
2015–16 Increase 36.54 million[3]
Railway companies
Original company Great Western Railway
Key dates
4 June 1838 Temporary station opened
29 May 1854 Permanent station opened
Other information
Lists of stations
External links
WGS84 51°31′02″N 0°10′39″W / 51.5173°N 0.1774°W / 51.5173; -0.1774Coordinates: 51°31′02″N 0°10′39″W / 51.5173°N 0.1774°W / 51.5173; -0.1774
Underground sign at Westminster.jpg London Transport portal
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Paddington, also known as London Paddington, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground station complex, located on Praed Street in the Paddington area. The site has been the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the main-line station dates from 1854 and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was first served by London Underground trains in 1863, as the original western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway. Today, Paddington tube station is served by the Bakerloo, Circle, District, and Hammersmith & City lines.

The station has been perennially popular for passengers and goods, and saw major upgrades in the 1870s, the 1910s and the 1960s. It became particularly popular for the transport of milk and parcels. In the 20th century, it began to cater for suburban and commuter services, as the urban sprawl of London moved westwards. Despite the numerous upgrades and rebuilding, plus damage sustained in particular during World War II, Paddington has attempted to remain faithful to Brunel's original design.

Paddington is the London terminus of the Great Western Main Line, operated today by Great Western Railway, which provides the majority of commuter and regional passenger services to west London and the Thames Valley region as well as long-distance intercity services to South West England and South Wales. It is also the terminus for the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services to and from London Heathrow Airport. It is one of 19 stations in the United Kingdom managed directly by Network Rail. It is situated in fare zone 1.


Station location map

The station complex is bounded at the front by Praed Street and at the rear by Bishop's Bridge Road, which crosses the station throat on the recently replaced Bishop's Bridge. On the west side of the station is Eastbourne Terrace, while the east side is bounded by the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal. The station is in a shallow cutting, a fact obscured at the front by a hotel building, but which can be clearly seen from the other three sides.[4] To the north of the station is the A40 Westway, to the northeast is the A5 Edgware Road, and to the east and southeast is the London Inner Ring Road.[5]

The surrounding area is partly residential, and includes the major St Mary's Hospital, restaurants and hotels. Until recently there was little office accommodation in the area, and most commuters interchanged between National Rail and the London Underground to reach workplaces in the West End or the City. However, recent redevelopment of derelict railway and canal land, marketed as Paddington Waterside, has resulted in new office complexes nearby.[4][6]

The station is in London fare zone 1. In addition to the Underground stations at Paddington, Lancaster Gate tube station on the Central line is a short walk away to the south. A little further to the south lie the conjoined parks of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.[7]

London Buses routes 7, 23, 27, 36, 46, 205, 332 and 436[5] and night route N7 and N205 serve the station.


Layout of Paddington Station in 1888

The National Rail station is officially named London Paddington, a name commonly used outside London but rarely by Londoners, who call it just Paddington, as on the London Underground map. Parts of the station, including the main train shed, date from 1854, when it was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the London terminus for the Great Western Railway (GWR). It is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail.[8]

Great Western Railway[edit]

The GWR had originally planned to terminate London services at Euston, which received government approval in 1835, but this was rejected as a long-term solution by Brunel.[9] The first station was a temporary terminus for the GWR on the west side of Bishop's Bridge Road, opened on 4 June 1838. The first GWR service from London to Taplow, near Maidenhead, ran from Paddington in 1838. After the main station opened, this became the site of the goods depot.[6][10] Brunel did not consider that anything less than a grand terminus dedicated to the GWR would be acceptable, and consequently this was approved in February 1853.[11]

Paddington Station in the Victorian era

The main station between Bishops Bridge Road and Praed Street was designed by Brunel, who was enthusiastic at the idea of being able to design a railway station himself, although much of the architectural detailing was by his associate Matthew Digby Wyatt. He took inspiration from Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace and the München Hauptbahnhof.[12] The glazed roof is supported by wrought iron arches in three spans, respectively spanning 68 feet (21 m), 102 feet (31 m) and 70 feet (21 m). The roof is 699 feet (210 m) long, and the original roof spans had two transepts connecting the three spans. It is commonly believed that these were provided by Brunel to accommodate traversers to carry coaches between the tracks within the station. However recent research, using early documents and photographs, does not seem to support this belief, and their actual purpose is unknown.[6][10][13] The original station used four platforms, a 27-foot (8.2 m)-wide and 24-foot-6-inch (7.47 m)-wide departure platform, a 21-foot (6.4 m) arrival platform, and a 47-foot (14 m) combined arrival platform and cab road. A series of nineteen turnplates were sited beyond the ends of the platforms for horse and coach traffic.[14]

The GWR first started running departures from the new station on 16 January 1854, though the roof had not been finished at this point. It was formally opened on 29 May, and the older temporary station was demolished the following year.[14]

Praed Street facade of the Great Western Hotel (now the Hilton London Paddington)

The Great Western Hotel was built on Praed Street in front of the station from 1851–1854 by architect Philip Charles Hardwick, son of Philip Hardwick (designer of the Euston Arch) in a classical and French-chateu design. It opened on 9 June 1854, and had 103 bedrooms and 15 sitting rooms. Each corner contained a tower containing two additional floors beyond the five storeys of the main block.[14] It was originally run by a consortium of GWR shareholders and staff, before the company took over operations completely in 1896.[15] The station was substantially enlarged in 1906–1915 and a fourth span of 109 feet (33 m) was added on the north side, parallel to the others. The new span was built in a similar style to the original three spans, but the detailing is different and it has no transepts.[6][16]

Paddington's capacity began to doubled to four tracks in the 1870s. The quadrupling was completed to Westbourne Park on 30 October 1871, Slough in June 1879 and Maidenhead in September 1884. An additional platform (later to become No. 9) opened in June 1878, while two new departure platforms (later Nos. 4 and 5) were added in 1885.[17] One of the lines between what is now platform 5 and 7 was removed, in order that the latter could be moved to a more southerly position. Aside from the June 1878 work, Brunel's original roof structure remained untouched throughout the improvements.[18]

The GWR began experimenting with the electric lighting in 1880, leading to Paddington being decorated with Christmas lights that year. Although the system was unreliable, it spurred the GWR on to a more ambitious lighting scheme in 1886, in which a 145V AC supply could light the terminus, office, goods yard and Royal Oak and Westbourne Park stations. It was praised for its scale and showing that electricity could compete with gas lighting on the same scale.[18]

Paddington became an important milk depot towards the end of the 19th century. A milk dock was built 1881, and by the 20th century over 3,000 churns were being handled at the station every day. Other goods such as meat, fish, horses and flowers were also transported through Paddington. Passenger traffic continued to improve as well. In March 1906, the goods depot at Westbourne Park was moved to Old Oak Common. The main departure platform was extended in 1908 and used for milk and parcels.[19] In 1911, work began to separate light and empty carriage traffic from running trains between Paddington to Old Oak Common, which involved the rebuilding of Westbourne Park station. The work was halted because of World War I but resumed in 1926, to be completed the following year.[20] Three new platforms were added; platform 12 in November 1913, platform 11 in December 1915, and platform 10 the following year.[21] The roof was completely reconstructed between 1922 and 1924, replacing Brunel's original cast-iron columns with steel replicas.[22]

Unlike several other London termini, Paddington saw no damage during World War I. Although Victoria and Charing Cross were the main stations for military movement during the war, Paddington was used for some of this traffic, and a 24-hour buffet was available at the station.[21]

On Armistice Day 1922, a memorial to the employees of the GWR who died during the First World War was unveiled by Viscount Churchill. The bronze memorial, depicting a soldier reading a letter, was sculpted by Charles Sargeant Jagger and stands on platform 1.[16][23]

Big Four, British Rail and Privatisation[edit]

Statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It has since been moved to face Platform 8.

The GWR was the only railway company that continued through the Big Four grouping in 1923.[9] A tube railway for the Post Office opened in December 1927, that could cater for around 10,000 mailbags every day.[22]

Paddington was rebuilt again from 1930 to 1934. Platforms 2 to 11 were extended past the Bishops Road bridge and a new parcel depot was built.[22] Suburban services, which had never been considered important at Paddington, began to be increased as new housing estates in the Home Counties began to be built. Bishops Road station was rebuilt, giving an extra four platforms to Paddington (Nos. 13–16) and providing a new ticket office and entrance for suburban services next to the bridge.[24] A public address system was introduced in 1936.[25]

A very early construction by Brunel was discovered immediately to the north of the station. A cast-iron bridge carrying the Bishop's Bridge Road over the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal was uncovered after removal of brick cladding during the replacement of the adjacent bridge over the railway lines at the mouth of the station.[6]

The station came under attack several times during World War II. In 1941, the departure side of the station was hit by a parachute mine, while in 1944, the roof between platforms 6 and 7 was destroyed by a flying bomb. Passenger traffic greatly increased through Paddington during the war, partly by evacuation to the relatively quiet Thames Valley, and because holidaymakers chose to travel west as large areas of the south and east coasts had been taken over for military purposes. On 29 July 1944, the station was closed for three hours because the platforms were saturated with passenger traffic, while on the subsequent August bank holiday, crowds were controlled in tight queues along Eastbourne Terrace by mounted police.[26]

Steam traffic began to be replaced in the late 1950s. Between 1959 and 1961, suburban services switched to Diesel Multiple Units, while the last regular long-distance steam train left Paddington on 11 June 1965.[27]

The track layout was reorganised in 1967, abolishing the distinction between arrival and departure platforms that had been a feature of Paddington since opening. A new set of sidings was built south of Royal Oak, and the track curve into Paddington was eased. Services to the Midlands were rerouted via Marylebone during this time. The station concourse was enlarged in 1970, and the ticket office was rebuilt in the same year.[28] Unlike other London termini such as Euston, the rebuilding work was done with an eye towards preserving Brunel and Wyatt's original station design.[29]

In 1982, a bronze state of Brunel was erected on the station concourse. It was sculpted by John Doubleday and funded by the Bristol and West Building Society.[30] Special steam services began to be run from Paddington again in the 1980s.[31]

Paddington's ownership was transferred to Great Western Trains in 1996, two years after Britain's railways were privatised. The company was renamed First Great Western in 1998, and merged with First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains to form the Greater Western franchise in 2006. In 2015, the operating company was renamed Great Western Railway.[32]


The platforms inside the train shed at London Paddington station. Three of the platforms are occupied by First Great Western High Speed Trains, while another two have Heathrow Express units
Train shed at Paddington
London Paddington station
Crossrail Crossrail opens 2019
Circle line (London Underground)District Line
Circle and District lines
formerly Praed Street
Bakerloo Line Bakerloo line
PaddingtonNational Rail
Bishop's Road
Ranelagh Bridge depot closed 1980
Royal Oak London Underground mainline closed 1871
Royal Oak portal
Subway tunnel
Westbourne Park London Underground mainline closed 1992
Circle line (London Underground)Hammersmith & City Line Circle and Hammersmith & City lines
National Rail Great Western Main Line

Paddington is the London terminus for long-distance high-speed trains operated by Great Western Railway. Two services go to Heathrow Airport: the Heathrow Express travels non-stop at a premium fare, while Heathrow Connect takes the same route but calls at most intermediate stations.[33][34]

The station has 13 terminal platforms, numbered 1 to 14 from south-west to north-east (left to right as seen from the concourse). Platforms 1 to 8 are below the original three spans of Brunel's train shed, platforms 9 to 12 beneath the later fourth span. Platform 14 is within the Metropolitan Railway's old Bishop's Road (Suburban) station to the north-west. Platform 13 was removed. Immediately alongside are through platforms 15 and 16, used by the London Underground's Hammersmith & City and Circle lines (see below).[35]

Platforms 6 and 7 are dedicated to the Heathrow Express, and platforms 13 and 14 can be used only by local services' Class 165 trains up to seven cars long.[36] Platforms 1 to 5 and 8 to 12 can be used by any services, but long-distance trains generally use the south-western platforms, and local trains (including Heathrow Connect) the north-eastern ones.

The concourse at rush hour.

The concourse stretches across the heads of platforms 1 to 12, underneath the London end of the four train sheds. Platforms 13 and 14 can only be reached indirectly via the north-western end of platform 12, or from the footbridge which crosses the north-western end of the station and gives access to all platforms.[35]

The area between the rear of the Great Western Hotel and the concourse is traditionally called The Lawn. It was originally unroofed and occupied by sidings, but was later built up to form part of the station's first concourse. The Lawn has recently[when?] been re-roofed and separated from the concourse by a glass screen wall. It is surrounded by shops and cafés on several levels.[6][16]

There are ticket barriers to platforms 2–5 and 10–16.[37]

The fourth span has been[when?] renovated, involving repair and restoration of the original glazed roof, so that platforms 9 to 12 inclusive can once more enjoy daylight.[38] A false ceiling or crash deck had been in place since 1996. Work was completed and the restored roof unveiled in July 2011. Network Rail originally planned to demolish Span 4 and build an office block over that part of the station; Save Britain's Heritage successfully campaigned against this.[39]

A first-class lounge on Platform 1 provides complimentary refreshments and Wi-Fi internet access. It also has screens showing television news as well as a departure board.[40]

Heathrow Express provides flight information display screens for airline passengers at the Heathrow Express ticket office near the dedicated Heathrow Express platforms 6 and 7.[41] Baggage check-in facilities for airline passengers were provided in 1999 in the Lawn but progressively replaced by retail units.[42]

The most common destinations are:[43]

Flows on long-distance high-speed trains to or from Paddington
Journeys in 2007/08 (million)
Reading 4.0
Didcot Parkway 1.1
Swindon 1.0
Bristol Temple Meads 0.9
Bath Spa 0.8
Cardiff Central 0.7
Bristol Parkway 0.6
Newbury 0.6
Exeter St David's 0.4
Chippenham 0.4

Other long-distance destinations are Taunton, Plymouth, Truro and Penzance in the West Country; Hereford and Worcester in the West Midlands; and Newport, Bridgend and Swansea in South Wales.

The current operator, Great Western Railway, assigns numbers to the pocket timetables it publishes, and its services to Bath, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and South Wales are in timetable number 1.[44]

An integrated timetable is offered between Paddington and Rosslare Europort in Ireland via the Stena Line ferry from Fishguard Harbour railway station with through ticketing to stations in Ireland[45] and a daily morning and evening service in both directions, changing at Newport, Cardiff or Swansea. This route has been in existence since 1906.

Paddington is the terminus for suburban trains to West London and the Thames Valley, also operated by Great Western Railway. The most important destinations are:[46]

Suburban flows to or from Paddington
Journeys in 2007/08 (million)
Slough 2.0
Maidenhead 1.6
Oxford 1.5
Ealing Broadway 1.0
Hayes and Harlington 1.0
Newbury 0.6
West Drayton 0.6
West Ealing 0.6
Twyford 0.5
Windsor & Eton 0.4

Note: These figures exclude Heathrow Express and some TfL Travelcard data

Other important short-distance services are Reading and Didcot Parkway. In 2010 Network Rail published a map showing the range and importance of destinations served, using 2006/07 data.[47]

Paddington is an alternative London terminal for Chiltern Railways' service to Birmingham, used when London Marylebone is inaccessible for engineering or other reasons, and for one daily service (departs 11:36), towards West Ruislip, calling at South Ruislip. Virgin CrossCountry used to run services to Paddington from Glasgow Central and Blackpool North. These services were withdrawn in Summer 2003 as part of the unwinding of Operation Princess.[48]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Greenford Branch Line
  Acton Main Line
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Great Western Main Line
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Night Riviera
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Commuter services
Great Western Main Line
  Acton Main Line
or Ealing Broadway
Terminus   Heathrow Connect
Paddington – Heathrow
  Ealing Broadway
Terminus   Heathrow Express
London Paddington–Heathrow Airport
  Heathrow Central
Terminus   Chiltern Railways
Acton to Northolt Line (Limited Services)
Monday-Friday Only
  South Ruislip
Historical railways
Preceding station   National Rail National Rail   Following station
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Great Western Main Line
  Royal Oak
Line and station open

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 19 February 1840 a mail train was derailed near Paddington. There were no injuries.[49]
  • On 15 November 1840, a rear end collision occurred between a passenger train and a light engine. Six passengers were injured.[50][51]
  • On 21 July 1874, a passenger train was misrouted into a siding and collided with the buffer stop. Some passengers sustained slight injuries and shock.[52]
  • On 9 August 1920, a passenger train collided with the buffers. Two people were injured.[53]
  • On 12 September 1921, a passenger train was being shunted into a platform and collided with three luggage vans already occupying the line. A carriage was derailed and a luggage van was wrecked.[54]
  • On 23 November 1983, a sleeper train hauled by Class 50 locomotive 50 041 Bulwark was derailed on the approach to Paddington due to excessive speed through a crossover. Three of the seventy passengers were injured.[55][56]
  • On 25 May 2014, Class 360 electric multiple unit 360 205 derailed at it entered the station due to maintenance errors.[57]
  • On 16 June 2016, Class 165 diesel multiple unit 165 124 was derailed near the station, causing significant disruption to services.[58]
  • On 20 August 2017, 43 188 was derailed when forming the rear power car of a service to Cardiff.[59]

London Underground stations[edit]

The GWR were aware that Paddington was some distance away from the centre of London, and donated £175,000 (£14,814,000 in 2015) to the North Metropolitan Railway in order that the station could have a link to the City. Consequently Paddington was the original western terminus of the line when it opened on 1 January 1863.[15]

Paddington is served by four London Underground lines through two separate stations: the Bakerloo, Circle and District lines have a combined sub-surface and deep-level station on Praed Street to the south of the main-line station, and the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines have a sub-surface station with access from Paddington Basin to the north. Circle line services run through both of the sub-surface stations as part of a spiral route. Although shown on the London Underground map as a single station,[60] the two stations are not directly linked.

Lancaster Gate Underground station on the Central line and Marylebone mainline station are within walking distance and out of station interchanges to these stations are permitted at no extra cost if made within the permitted time.[61]

  Paddington (Praed Street)  
Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
Bakerloo line
Deep tube station
towards Hammersmith (via Tower Hill)
Circle line
Subsurface station
towards Wimbledon
District line
Wimbledon-Edgware Road
  Paddington (Paddington Basin)  
Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
towards Hammersmith
Circle line
Subsurface station
towards Edgware Road (via Aldgate)
Hammersmith & City line
Subsurface station
towards Barking

Crossrail station[edit]

A Crossrail station for Paddington is being built under Eastbourne Terrace, the road alongside the south-west side of the main-line station, and also under the adjacent taxi rank in the Departures Road (so called, because it served what was originally the departures side of the station). Eastbourne Terrace was closed for about two years from 12 February 2012. A new taxi rank is on the other side of the station, above Platform 12. Crossrail services are due to start in 2018.[62] The new station box will be 23 metres deep and 260 metres long.[63]

Future Development
Preceding station   Elizabeth line roundel.svg National Rail logo.svg Crossrail   Following station
towards Reading
Elizabeth line
towards Shenfield
Elizabeth line
towards Abbey Wood

Cultural references[edit]

Paddington station was the subject of William Powell Frith's 1862 painting The Railway Station. The portrait was viewed by over 21,000 people (paying a shilling each) in the first seven weeks of it being publicly shown. The painting is now held in the Royal Holloway College.[15]

The mystery novel 4.50 From Paddington (1952) by Agatha Christie begins with a murder witnessed by a passenger on a train from Paddington.[64]

One of The Railway Series books, The Eight Famous Engines, contains a story about Gordon, Duck and a foreign engine debating which station London is. Duck says that he used to work at Paddington so he knows that Paddington is most important. However, Gordon later finds out that the station in London is St Pancras.[65]

Statue of Paddington Bear

The children's book character Paddington Bear was named after the station. In the books, by Michael Bond, he is found at the station, having come from "deepest, darkest Peru" and with a note attached to his coat reading "please look after this bear, thank you". A statue of him by Marcus Cornish, based on the original drawings by Peggy Fortnum, is located under the clock on platform 1.[66][67][68]

There is a fictional underground Paddington station on the North London System in the novel The Horn of Mortal Danger (1980).[69]

In the Sherlock episode The Hounds of Baskerville, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go to Paddington to get to Dartmoor for a case. In the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watson and his companions Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry Baskerville leave for Dartmoor from Paddington.[citation needed]

The band Supertramp used Paddington station to record the train sounds featured in the song "Rudy" on the 1974 album Crime of the Century.[70]




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  70. ^ The Mojo Collection. Canongate. November 2007. p. 335. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 


  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199. 
  • Cole, Beverly (2011). Trains. Potsdam, Germany: H.F.Ullmann. ISBN 978-3-8480-0516-1. 
  • Jackson, Alan (1984) [1969]. London's Termini (New Revised ed.). London: David & Charles. ISBN 0-330-02747-6. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]