Transport for London estimates that 1.37 billion people ride the Tube every year moving through the network’s 249 miles of track and 270 stations. And while thousands of people pass through every day going to work, home, out, or just sightseeing, they don’t often reflect on the history of the stations. If you stop for a moment, we think you’ll find that London’s ten busiest Underground stations are some of the most fascinating. Numbers are based on data collected from 2016 by Transport for London.
Paddington – 49.48 million
Paddington was built as the London Terminus for the Great Western Railway, and the Great Western Hotel (now Hilton London Paddington) was constructed along with it. The Underground lines were added in 1863. Perhaps the most famous aspect of the station comes not from its trains, but the Paddington Bear children’s books created by Michael Bond. Today, a statue of Paddington Bear on Platform 1.
Canary Wharf – 54.79 million
One of the newest stations on this list, Canary Wharf was a business district that was constructed to revitalize the London Docklands in the 1980s. However, the area was pretty poorly served by public transport, and the Jubilee Line Extension was constructed in the 1990s to accommodate the commuters. The station opened officially in 1999, and the area’s success is the reason why it is such a busy Tube station. Canary Wharf is also home to the longest escalator in the Underground and has appeared in notable films such as 28 Days Later and Star Wars: Rogue One.
Bank & Monument – 64.26 million
Bank & Monument actually refer to two interlinked stations named for the Bank of England and the Monument to the Great Fire of London, respectively. They were constructed as part of the Metropolitan Railway and District Railway in 1884 and eventually became the Circle Line in 1949. One of the more tragic events in the stations’ history was during the London Blitz when a German bomb hit the booking hall, and the explosion traveled downwards to the platforms.
Stratford – 67.05 million
Stratford was constructed in 1839 as part of the Eastern Counties Railways and today is a multi-level interchange for the Underground, Crossrail, the Overground, and National Rail. The station has no connection to Stratford-upon-Avon and to distinguish it; it is sometimes referred to as Stratford (London). Stratford is preparing for the future when full Crossrail service replaces TfL Rail in 2019, making the station part of the most advanced rail network in the UK. Stratford also has the shortest escalator at 4.1 meters.
London Bridge – 70.74 million
Named for the nearby London Bridge, the station was built in 1836 as part of the London & Croydon Railway. While the London & Greenwich Railways opened stations before L&C opened London Bridge, those stations’ closings make London Bridge the oldest active Underground station in the network. Both London Bridge station entrances were damaged during the Blitz. With the more recent construction of the Shard, London Bridge Station got an overhaul with a new entrance and roof on the terminal level.
Liverpool Street – 71.61 million
Liverpool Street was constructed to be a new terminus in the city, one for the Great Eastern Railway. As with Paddington, a hotel was constructed as part of the terminus known as the Great Eastern Hotel (now known as the Andaz London Liverpool Street). At first, it was thought that the station was a waste of money, but it wasn’t ten years before the station was at capacity and needed expansion. The station has a couple of monuments to World War I and World War II and was one of the stations attacked on 7 July 2005.
Oxford Circus – 83.26 million
Found at the junction of Regent Street and Oxford Street, the Oxford Circus Station was opened as part of the Central Line in 1900. The Bakerloo Line station opened six years later, and both of them are Grade II listed buildings. Ten years ago, Oxford Circus went through a major renovation that removed the 1980s murals and replaced them with white tile similar to what the station had when it opened. One attraction that garners much attention, as well as a lot of Tube travelers who work there, is BBC Broadcasting House.
Victoria – 83.5 million
London Victoria Station was constructed in 1860 and was meant to serve the Chatham and Brighton Lines. The two parts of the station were built two years apart, and as such, have always felt like two stations rather than one. Victoria was one of the last stations to see steam trains, which were eventually phased out in the 1960s. One of the most innovative aspects of the station was its Gatwick Express train, which included check-in desks for the airlines at the platform. With over 80 million people using the station each year, Victoria has been scheduled for upgrades to its service.
Kings Cross St. Pancras – 95.03 million
King’s Cross St. Pancras is one of the oldest in the Underground, opening in 1863 as part of the Metropolitan Railway. Its location and connection to the King’s Cross Railway Station make it the second-busiest Underground station in London. In possibly the worst tragedy in the Tube’s history, the wooden parts of the station’s escalators caught fire and resulted in the deaths of thirty-one people. The fire resulted in a major renovation of the station in the 1980s. The above rail station is most associated with the Harry Potter series as the gateway to the Hogwarts Express.
Waterloo – 100.36 million
Seeing 100.36 million users in 2016, Waterloo Station easily takes the cake for the busiest in the whole Underground. It was constructed in 1898 as part of the Waterloo & City Railway, now known as the Waterloo & City Line. Part of the reason for its use is that it connects four different lines, which besides Waterloo & City Line includes the Jubilee, Northern, and Bakerloo lines. The area around the station is also home to several major landmarks including the London Eye, the Imperial War Museum, and Southbank Centre, amongst others.