A rare chance for tube-geeks to ride on a bit of the network that is not normally open to the public — and to do so in a vintage tube train no less.

The venerable art-deco style 1938 tube train is going to take a couple of trips along the tube network next month, and one of those two trips includes a very special bit of tunnel.

The Kennington Loop!

Northern line trains from Charing Cross that terminate at Kennington actually carry on southbound around a huge loop and return on the northbound platform. It’s one of three loops on the underground network — another being at Heathrow and the third is the long abandoned and flooded loop at Embankment.

Passengers are normally told to get off at Kennington and are not allowed through the (allegedly haunted) loop — but next month, you can ride in a vintage tube train through it yourself.

Inside the carriages - 2

Inside the 1938 stock carriages

OK, I’ve been through it, and it is just a dark tunnel with nothing to look at — but it’s a dark tunnel that very few passengers ever get to travel through, which automatically makes it something people will want to travel through.

So that’s one trip — along the Northern Line from Edgware down to Kennington and back again.

The other trip is along the Picadilly Line from Cockfosters to Ealing Broadway.

As usual with these trips, apart from the sheer novelty of being in an old tube train etc, much of the fun is passing through stations and watching people stare in amazement and shock as an old red train passes through. That entertainment is worth the ticket price along.

The trips take place on Sunday 21st July, cost £20 and tickets can be booked here.

Old and new at Clapham North - 1

Old and new at Clapham North

Now, what would have excited this sad old tube geek is to be on the train when it crosses over from the Northern Line to the Picadilly, which it does through another of those tunnels that are “never seen by passengers” at King’s Cross where the two lines are closest together.


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  1. Paul says:

    Any truth in rumours that the line actually continues further south than thought – that all the “word” about poor geology preventing the line going further south are just a smokescreen. And that tunnels may be there being used for something we aren’t supposed to think about?

    Or is it just that the powers that be don’t like south London and don’t think it deserves much of the tube?

    • IanVisits says:

      Until developments in tunnelling technology in the 1970s, it was indeed very difficult to dig tunnels in South London. Still is in many places.

  2. Mizzkazza says:

    Ian, exactly how difficult is it to dig tunnels in south London? Many of us who live in Kennington are very worried about the plans to extend the Northern Line from the above-mentioned loop. TfL hasn’t exactly been reassuring about the effects of this huge project. It doesn’t seem to care about what happens to Kennington above ground so long as it keeps its Battersea investors happy. Personally, I can’t understand why they don’t link Battersea to Vauxhall, it would seem to make more sense than tunnelling twice the distance to Kennington.
    By the way, if anyone wants to register an objection to TfL’s plans, the deadline is June 18 and you can do so by email here: [email protected]

    • IanVisits says:

      Tunnelling is difficult — but that has no impact on the surface.

      Subsidence is minimal with modern TBMs anyway, and any serious side-effect can be mitigated with compensation grouting.

      Difficult to understand why anyone would object to improved transport links in the form of underground tunnels.

  3. David S says:

    It has to remembered that at the time allot of the original tube lines were being proposed or built the Southern Railway seemed to have a strong influence over what could be built and indeed blocked many and therefore has much to do with why there was much more construction north of the river.

  4. Keith Winteringham says:

    As a kiwi reading about your underground system I would like to know why this loop was put in place as it shows on maps that the line carries north.
    When was it built?

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