Map Colour: Turquoise Opened: 1898 Stations: 2 Length: 1.47 miles (2.37km) Rolling Stock Used: 1992 Stock
In November 1891, a bill was placed before Parliament proposing the construction of an underground electric railway between Waterloo Station and Mansion House in the City of London. The bill was put forward by an independent consortium, but was supported by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR)
Following a long drawn out collection of legal wranglings and petitions from public works authorities, including one from the London COunty Council demanding that the line should be constructed large enough to convey full size trains, the Waterloo & City Railway Act obtained Royal Assent on 27 July 1893.
Construction began on 18 June 1894 to the west of Blackfriars Bridge, where two vertical shafts were dug as the headings for the tunnel drive. November 1894 saw the commencement of driving the running tunnels using the Greathead Shield system.
The station at Waterloo was constructed within the existing arches of the mainline station above with both the arrival and departure platforms located in separate arches, connected to the mainline station via a staircase. Sidings and a reversing line were also provided beyond the platforms.
City Station, as the W&CR Bank station was then known, was constructed as two separate platforms that could both be used by an arriving train to aid flexibility. The station itself was located a considerable distance from street level and early passengers persistently complained about the steep and lengthy gradient to exit the station.
As the W&CR was built, it had no connection to any other line, nor did it have any stations at ground level. This led to an issue with the maintenance of the rolling stock as, although the depot built with the line could handle all the day to day repairs, there was no provision made for any heavy maintenance to be carried out. The W&CR solution to this was to construct a hoist, known as the Armstrong lift, to one side of the depot at Waterloo.
The hoist was constructed by WG Armstrong Whitworth & Co. Ltd at a cost of £3,560, it was water powered, capable of lifting 27 tonnes and was completed in April 1898. The hoist lasted in service until 1992 when it was buried under the foundations for the new Waterloo International Eurostar terminal. Today, rolling stock is removed by road crane through a new shaft in Spur Road.
Construction of the line was completed in early 1898 and, following approval from the Board of Trade, the line was offically opened on 11 July 1898 by Prince George, Duke of Cambridge with approximately 400 people travelling on the inaugural service from Waterloo to City Station and return. Public opening of line occured on Monday 8 August 1898, delayed by four weeks due to work not being fully completed on the stations, with trains being worked by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR).
From the outset, the line was worked on behalf of the Waterloo & City Railway by the London & South Western. This led to the LSWR making plans to absorb the W&CR in 1906. On 20 July 1906, an enabling act was passed by Parliament and, with shareholder approval being obtained, the LSWR duly took over the line on 1 January 1907, leading to the W&CR company ceasing to exist.
Following the Railways Act 1921, the mainline railway companies were grouped, with the LSWR becoming part of the Southern Railway at the beginning of 1923. Operation of the line continued under SR stewardship and, unlike the other underground railways in London, following the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) in 1933, the line did not transfer over and stayed in Southern ownership, although the line did appear on the underground maps prodcued by the LPTB.
In 1934 the LPTB brought forward a proposal that the W&C line should be provided with a new intermediate station at Blackfriars to connect with the District Line, as well as extending the line to Liverpool Street and Shoreditch, where it would connect with existing lines owned by the East London Railway to New Cross and New Cross Gate. The proposal appears to have been unsuccessful as the work was never costed and no further investigation was carried out.
On 28 October 1940, City station was renamed to Bank, mirroring the name of the LPTB station. In 1948, following Nationalisation, the Southern Railway lines and services were absorbed into British Railways Southern Region, followed in 1983 by Network Southeast.
At the end of the 1980s, the 1940s built rolling stock used on the line was becoming ever more problematic. Network Southeast took the decision to seek new vehicles for the line in tandem with the London Transport order for new trains for the Central Line, this led to engineering work taking place on the line and the implementation of a new fourth rail to comply with the requirements of the new trains.
On 28 May 1993, the W&C line was closed to allow for the removal of the old rolling stock and the placement of the new. Alongside the replacement of rolling stock, the opportunity was also taken to conduct track and signalling works as well as staff training. The line reopened on the morning of 19 July 1993.
Following extensive consultations, the W&C line was transferred to London Underground ownership in April 1994. Due to the similarity of the lines rolling stock with that of the Central Line, the W&C is worked by Central Line drivers based at Leytonstone.
in April 2006, the line was closed for three weeks to allow refurbishment works to be carried out. The tunnels, platforms and depots were refurbished alongside major track and signalling upgrades with the line re-opening three weeks late on 11 September. At the same time as the station refurbishment, the opportunity was also taken to refurbish the rolling stock with new grab seta covers and an internal refresh, along with a repaint of the exteriors of the train into London Underground Corporate livery.