To mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of District line, steam trains will once more ply the route. The line, which initially consisted of five stations, opened on 24 December 1868. In 1869, the service was extended westward to West Brompton, and in 1870, eastward to Blackfriars.

Within forty years of opening, it was running services to Ealing, Hounslow, Putney, East Ham, and New Cross. For a short time, there were even District line trains to Windsor and Southend-on-Sea.

The first phase of the District line was built using a cut-and-cover method. Workers would dig a trench, build a tunnel, and then cover it over again. Two thousand workers were employed to dig the tunnel and 200 horses were used to move the soil. The original District Railway trains could fit more than 400 people per train, but today, a District line train can carry more than 1,000 people during rush hour.

A series of events will run through the year

Heritage displays and leaflets telling the story of the line’s history will be handed out at stations from this weekend, while Cultural Tube maps, highlighting a range of fun places to visit along the line, will be placed at stations along the route. The handouts include information about the overall history of the line, as well as details about the history and architecture of each station.

Today (Saturday 26th Jan), between 11am and 1pm, there will also be staff handing out special tote bags to visitors at the following stations:

11:00 -Westminster station
11:30 – St. James’ Park station
12:00 – Victoria station
12:30 – Sloane Square station
13:00 – South Kensington station

In conjunction with the London Transport Museum, TfL will run a steam train along the District line later this year. The modernisation of signalling on the Hammersmith & City, District, Circle and Metropolitan lines means that this will be the last time a steam train will be able to travel through the central section of the Underground.

Details of the steam train tours will be announced later this year.

London Transport Museum is also fundraising to restore a rare part of the District line’s heritage – the last three surviving 1930s Q-stock Underground carriages, which were in service from 1938 to the late 1960s. £200,000 is needed to complete the restoration work to make the trains operational.


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  1. Sue says:

    Please can l get info on any steam days. My father lives away from London but would love this!!

  2. Adam says:

    Are you trying to increase our countries carbon footprint or what?!

    • Colin Farquhar says:

      I doubt two days running will have much effect on the overall carbon footprint of the UK…

  3. Thomas W.Crickson says:

    I live outside of the Capital but would liked to have more information and availability of documents and other items. Where can I get them please?

  4. Hazel says:

    Will there be more opportunity to collect one of the 150 years anniversary bags. I am unfortunately just seeing this at 14:53 on Saturday 26th.

  5. Annie Chan says:

    Where can I get the 150 anniversary bag except on 26/1
    Because I just see the news after the the time to get at the stations on 26/1

    Thanks from Annie

  6. Steve Howard says:

    Adam you plonker get a grip it’s called history , as you are obviously such a special snowflake why don’t you sell your car and walk everywhere this year to offset the extra carbon this unique event will produce

  7. John Culpan says:

    Adams a plonker. I want a bag and to ride a steam train through London underground tunnels. XxX

    • Stephen Adams says:

      Plonker? Future generations will celebrate your precious bag and steam train ride as they endure the consequences of the choices our society makes today. Wake up

  8. David Southern says:

    This may be the last opportunity to use steam, if CONservatives have their way!!!

  9. Andrew Gwilt says:

    London Underground District Line celebrating its 150th Anniversary since it first started in 1868. Which was known formerly as The Metropolitan District Railway (also known as The District Railway). Incredible to see the District Line still running today with the S7 Stocks operating on the District Line. I got a friend who is a massive District Line fan but loves the D78 Stocks before it was replaced by the S7 Stocks in 2012/2013.

  10. Evan baum says:

    Yet more pollution in London. This is something we just don’t need.

    • Romsey says:

      The exhaust from a steam loco is less noxious than fumes from internal combustion engines – it’s mainly steam and ash.

    • MikeP says:

      And if it’s anything like the last two runs I went on (150th anniversary of the Met and 150th of the H&C), Sarah Siddons at the other end will be doing most of the work 🙂

  11. Taylor says:

    I welcome the steam train, how fantastic, anyhow with all the cannabis smoked today judging by the comments about carbon footprint, I expect a few more plants in someones backyard will neutralise the carbon footprint lol

  12. E spracklan says:

    Can I still get a bag please. Thanks Liz

  13. Alex thorne says:

    These comets moaning about carbon footprint, get a grip. China are killing our planet pumping obscene amounts of crap into the sky and people are loosing their mind about a sing steam train on a single trip. Lol. Open your eyes before you type.

  14. Val Quinn says:

    While you’re having a bother poke at car owners, bear in mind how often those blighted creatures get an elderly person out of their house.
    The tube is lovely, but once your mobility is poor it’s the flights of steps that make it impossible for us.

  15. jan says:

    I’d be interested to know what miracle of completely carbon free energy production people think is currently powering the London Underground such that running a steam train for a couple of days is going to make so much difference….

  16. Nick says:

    I have read all the comments .Both right of course .But go for the steam idea .If they ran them every weekend and charged a premium which people will pay ,they can raise money to get crossrail finished earlier .We are not a big polluter .Far from it .Any londeners who dont like it go away for a weekend

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