Take The Drain, The Misery Line, Then The Viking Line

By M@ Last edited 13 months ago
Take The Drain, The Misery Line, Then The Viking Line

Crossrail will be called the Elizabeth line after our city's most famous part-time resident. We're not convinced. Not because we despise all this monarchy worship, but because it's just a bit too clunky to catch on.

Instead, we propose that the rail route be known as The Purp, after its chosen colour. "Don't take the Piccadilly line," you'll say, "simply hop on The Purp and you'll be at Heathrow no time. All hail The Purp".

Now that we've definitively settled that, perhaps we can rebrand London's other lines? Below, we've suggested alternatives for all of the routes that appear on the tube map; some are established nicknames; others are sure to catch on soon.  

Bakerloo: The Bakerpoo line

Admit it. We've all been guilty of saying Bakerpoo out loud. That turdy brown colour on the tube map brings out the child in all of us. Even the seats are in grubby, feculent agreement.

Central: Roding Valley line

Let's rename this one to celebrate London's least used tube station, which enjoys just 712 passengers a day. Also, Roding Valley sounds a bit rude.

Circle: Spiral line

The Circle line was extended west onto Hammersmith & City tracks in 2009, purely (we reckon) to thwart all the Circle line pub crawls by adding yet more stops. Ever since, it's been mis-named. We propose the Spiral line, to reflect its continuation beyond Edgware Road. The name also leaves open the possibility of extending the spiral south from Hammersmith to Barnes, and then east to fill a particularly gappy part of the tube map between Wimbledon, Clapham Junction, Vauxhall and Elephant. See, you should make us mayor right now.

District: Libertine line

London's most promiscuous line shares its (track) bed with so many others. The District snuggles up to the Circle through 18 central London stations. It then elopes with the Hammersmith and City line for a further 11 stops, before finally going single after Barking. Out to the west, the green line has a long-term affair with the Piccadilly, bunking together between Ealing and South Ken. When the Piccadilly's not looking, dirty District indulges in brief flings with two Overground siblings.

DLR: David Lee Roth line

It supposedly stands for Docklands Light Railway, but we know the truth. Van Halen singer David Lee Roth is a noted fan of light railway infrastructure, and can often be seen at the front of a DLR train pretending to drive.

Emirates Air Line: The Dangleway

The much maligned cable car between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks has attracted plenty of nicknames. Blogger Diamond Geezer coined the most memorable sobriquet in May 2012, and The Dangleway is now common parlance — to such an extent that a web search for 'dangleway' brings up both the TfL and Emirates official webpages among the top results.

Hammersmith & City: Goddamnersmith and Shitty line

If you've ever had the misfortune to use it, you'll understand why.

Jubilee: The H2O line

The Jubilee is practically aquatic. It passes under the Thames more than any other line (four times). It connects Waterloo to Canada Water after passing beneath London Bridge. It was almost called the Fleet line, in reference to the buried river. It's the easiest way to get to the O2, which is one of the hydrolysis products of water. Finally, we were at Stanmore station the other day and it was absolutely pissing it down. Proof if proof be needed that the Jubilee is London's dampest line.

Metropolitan: Polite Matron line

Because everybody loves a good anagram.

Northern: Misery line

Old nicknames die hard. The Northern line was long famous for its signal failures and inevitable delays. Its black line colour didn't help lift the mood. Many passengers still refer to the route as the Misery line. That's more than a little unfair, as 2015 performance figures (PDF) show the Northern line as London's most punctual, with 99.3% of train kilometres run on time. That said, by other criteria, it remains far from perfect. And it's still a depressing black colour. The Misery line is here to stay.

Overground: Ginger line

Really, the tangled mess of Overground orange ought to be split up into separate lines. While it remains as one system, though, we prefer to call it the Ginger line — a moniker that's gaining traction like a thirsty pantograph. As a side note, one section already has a cute nickname: the GOBLIN is abbreviated from Gospel Oak to Barking line.

Piccadilly: The Hammercock line

In the same way that the Bakerloo is named after two stations it connects (Baker Street and Waterloo), how about doing the same for the Piccadilly, using Hammersmith and Cockfosters to make the Hammercock? Or perhaps weave the suffix of Ealing in there to make the Cocking line. Dare we invoke Arsenal and venture the Arsecock line? Basically, anything with cock in it.

TfL Rail: TOWIE Rail

The line out from Liverpool Street to Shenfield will soon become part of Crossrail (or the Elizabeth line, if you must). For now, we're stuck with the workaday title of TfL rail. Given that the penultimate stop is Brentwood, home of The Only Way Is Essex, there's really only one possible nickname.

Victoria: Viking line

The Victoria was almost called the Viking line, to reflect its connections with busy mainline stations Victoria and King's Cross. It also has some sort of historical resonance, given that Tottenham Hale tube is close to the River Lea — the agreed boundary between the lands of King Alfred and his Viking foes.

Waterloo & City: The Drain

An old nickname for the shortest underground line. The name comes either from the way it flushes commuters from Waterloo to the Square Mile without stopping in-between, or else because of leaky tunnels.  

Last Updated 11 April 2017


It's not the ginger line it's the marmaline


In all seriousness, though, I really think that the Northern line should be split into two separate lines. In fact, I'm quite surprised that they haven't done it yet.

Think about it. Splitting the line would allow the trains to run at a much better frequency (at the moment they run at 20 tph across all branches in the off-peak and 24 in the peaks; 24 trains per hour is the absolute maximum on the line because trains have to wait for each other at Camden Town; if the line was split, this could increase to 24 tph in the off-peak and 30 in the peaks). Moreover, the customers of Camden Town would no longer have to guess which platform the next train to London Bridge or Embankment runs from (similarly, the customers of Euston wouldn't have to guess which platform the next train to Finchley or Hampstead runs from), as these trains would always depart from the same platform. Furthermore, because the service frequency would increase, there could be new regular through services to or from Mill Hill East. On top of that, the two lines would be a lot easier to manage in the case of delays (only one of the two lines would be affected). Finally, and most importantly, tourists would no longer be bloody confused and/or lost in London by taking the wrong Northern line to wherever they want to go!

So, TfL, please. Split the Northern line into two. One line going Morden - Bank - High Barnet and the other going Battersea - Waterloo - Edgware. Of course the first question that comes to mind is: what would the name of one of the new lines be? Embankment line? Edgsea line? Batterware line? Kennington Loop line? Mornington Crescent line? None of these sound satisfactory but I'm sure someone would come up with a good name eventually.

I don't see any disadvantages of the split other than cost (Camden Town would have to be completely upgraded beforehand). TfL. Please. Take this into consideration.

Clunking Fist

Surely the Purp will be the Lizzy Line? We'll all be "riding Lizzy" (please don't chop my head off)?

Tube Geek

On the Viking Line on the approach to KCSP; ''The next station is King's Cross St. Pancras. Change for the Misery, Spiral, Polite Matron, Goddamnersmith & Shitty and Hammercock Lines, and National and International Rail. What a beauty, eh?


I grew up in Brentwood and Shenfield (which is also in Brentwood) had two trains into London- the fast train stopping at Stratford only and the slow train stopping at every single station on the line which is now known as TFL Rail. The train that stopped at every station was known as the Ghetto Express.

Chi The Cynic

Another reason to dub the Northern line "Misery" is that it ends in Mordor. Err, Morden.


The Jubilee was originally meant to be called The Fleet line after the River Fleet (more water then), then Royalty took a hand again.


The Overground in East London will always be known (by me anyway) as The Hipster Express.

Fred Smith

The old East London line bit of the overground is the Hipster Line


"It's the easiest way to get to the O2, which is one of the hydrolysis products of water."
It rhymes with Eau, too.


If the Northern line is split, they should obviously be the Northern and Southern lines - the Southern being whichever goes to Morden.

Annabel Smyth

Surely the Jubilee Line should be the Piggy Line, as it goes from HAMpstead to West HAM!


Split the overground up and call them "the ginger", "the ranga", "the soulless" and "the Neville"

Clive Penfold

Purp does't quite have the ring to it. The Liz or Lizzie line sounds better and will suitably confuse foreigners


Waterloo & City Line should be renamed the WANK LINE. the W from Waterloo, and the ANK from Bank 😵

John Usher

Sooper - Go For It! Who makes up the stickers to overlay the official names?