Wheel flats cripple Piccadilly Line services


Especially bad weather combined with other factors to wipe out more than half the fleet of 1973 Stock.

A ‘perfect storm’ of poor rail adhesion, leading to wheel slips under braking, resulted in the majority of the Piccadilly Line’s 1973 Stock developing flats during late November and early December.

Despite more than half the fleet being out of traffic at one point, enough 1973 Stock sets were available to launch the Piccadilly Line’s Night Tube service on December 16. This shows one of the new roundels at South Kensington as a Heathrow-bound train arrives on December 14. TfL

At one point, more than half of the line’s 78 trains were out of service, causing significant gaps in services and delays and overcrowding for passengers.

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Like most ‘Underground’ lines, the vast majority of the Piccadilly Line is actually above ground – operating from Cockfosters in North London to Heathrow and Uxbridge in the west of the city. There is a large number of deciduous trees along much of the line, particularly around the North West section, and the arrival of Storm Angus in late November resulted in a deluge of leaves falling onto the track. A period of colder weather then followed that caused chaos.

The impact was so significant that at one point, instead of reaching Rayners Lane or Uxbridge, Piccadilly services terminated at Acton Town, relying upon bus replacement services west of there (which coincidentally included heritage Routemasters). As more trains became available, a limited shuttle service began operating between Acton Town and Rayners Lane, where the Piccadilly meets the Metropolitan Line.

Read more in February’s issue of RE – out now!

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