Last year, I wrote that London Underground were planning to run a steam train along the underground network as part of its 150th anniversary.

Turns out I was right about the plans, if not entirely correct about the route. Well, I did write about it when plans were practically embryonic.

The plans having been finalised now are for a limited number of trips between Moorgate and Paddington, to recreate the original opening day of the Underground – with the turn around being at a number of stations beyond that.

So the recreation journey is slightly longer than the original, probably taking into account the lack of facilities on the Underground now for turning around steam trains.

Tickets to be on these heritage trains are going to be as hot as the coals in the locomotive engine, so a ballot is being held.

To whet your appetite, the steam train ran a practice trip along the line earlier this year, as this video clip by Leon Daniels shows.

Applications start tomorrow morning (Mon 29th Oct) at 10am and close in two weeks time. No need to rush on Monday morning, you have two weeks to apply. Then the lucky tickets will be drawn and tickets dispatched in December for a pre-Christmas treat.

The train itself will be made up of a number of heritage carriages carrying 250 passengers, with the steam locomotive at one end, and the electric locomotive Sarah Siddons at the other end.

A maximum of 2 tickets per person can be requested and only 1 request per person. It will be possible to select the date and either first or standard class seats.

It will not however be possible to select specific seats or train departure times – that causes a problem, as even in the cheaper 3rd class, you could be looking a ticket costing £50, or £150. There’s no way to say “I can pay £50, but not £150”. It also means you could end up in a trip hauled by the electric locomotive and not the steam engine.

Part of me is keen to be on the train, even if the price is going to make my wallet scream in agony – but the rest wants to be on the platforms with a good view as the trains pass by as steam trains do look a lot better from the outside frankly.

I suspect that access to the platforms will be controlled (balloted?) – otherwise they will be dangerously overcrowded.

As mentioned, the ballot opens on Monday. Good luck if you are entering!

Update: The ballot is now live – here.


13th January 2013

  • 12:10 Moorgate to Kensington Olympia (Hauled by Sarah Siddons)
  • 19:15 Kensington Olympia to Moorgate (Hauled by the Steam Train)
  • 20:10 Moorgate to Edgware Road by Sarah Siddons then back to Moorgate by Steam
  • 21:25 Moorgate to Edgware Road by Sarah Siddons then back to Moorgate by Steam
  • 22:40 Moorgate to Earl’s Court (Hauled by Sarah Siddons)

20th January 2013

  • 18:23 Kensington Olympia to Moorgate – Hauled by the Steam Train to Earl’s Court, then Sarah Siddons
  • 21:30 Moorgate to Baker Street by Steam, then return to Moorgate by Sarah Siddons
  • 22:40 Moorgate to Earl’s Court – by Steam

There will also be a number of other heritage trips on other parts of the network above ground later in the year.

Photography tip – in the absence of friendly properties overlooking the railway lines, I might suggest a ladder and Porchester Terrace as a possible spot for overhead photos on the very last trip. Will research some other locations closer to the date.


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  1. Will says:

    Any intel on how platform access will be regulated? Can’t be by ballot – what if you want to travel on a scheduled service, which will still be operating? Also, photography locations will almost certainly have to be in-station for lighting purposes given all except the very fist trip will be in darkness. And Porchester Terrace has those huge supporting girders which will limit the view of the train somewhat…

    • Chris Martin says:

      Quite unlike London Transport who ran these events very well, L U L seems to take an ignorant and high handed view that those who were part of steam operation on the Underground should be excluded, yes there are still people who drove and fired the steam locomotives alive and not one of them has been offered a ticket, including Harry Robinson who is 95 and the last London Transport steam driver who often drove Metropolitan number 1, which will be used on these trains.
      But Boris and his friends, who are not interested will all have free tickets.

    • IanVisits says:

      I can’t speak for any arrangements for ex-staff, but I know for a fact that current staff have been offered tickets in a ballot, so I don’t really think your accusations of an “ignorant and high handed” attitude is fair.

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