Here’s the longest you could get trapped in the train doors for on every London Underground line

Any second now... Image: Getty.

Did you read CityMetric’s recent story of a man who got trapped in the doors of a Northern Line train for 15 stations and think, “Pah, what a pathetic loser, I bet I could get trapped in the doors of a tube train for way more stations than that!”? Then read on, for we have for some reason attempted to calculate the maximum number of stations it would be possible for on each line!

In order to work this out we’ve looked at the which side the doors open on the train at each station: at some stations, it can actually be either, as there are 2 or more possible platforms for the train to stop at. If at the start of a journey the doors open on the right, then open on the left for 14 stations until finally opening on the right again, that makes 15 stops of “stuckness”.


In order of length, by number of stops, here are the longest ‘stuck’ journeys we could find on each line.

Waterloo & City: 2 stops

This might seem somewhat ludicrous given the Waterloo & City Line only has two possible stops but if the train arrives on the ‘wrong’ platform at Bank (and you aren’t otherwise rescued, which is basically a running assumption here), you’d have to wait until it returned to Waterloo (the trains always end up on the opposite side they started from at Waterloo and go out of the station to turn around, otherwise you could do INFINITE WATERLOO & CITY LINE).

Bakerloo: 5 stops

Queen’s Park to Edgware Road, in either direction.

Victoria: 8 stops

Warren Street to Brixton makes seven, and assuming we’re correctly remembering how the trains work at Brixton, if you get the ‘right’ platform you’ll be stuck until it goes back up the line to Stockwell.

Hammersmith & City: 8 stops

Royal Oak to Hammersmith for seven and, again, if you get a platform where the doors are still shut on your side at Hammersmith you might have to wait until the train goes back to Goldhawk Road.

Central: 10 stops

Holborn to White City, IN THAT DIRECTION ONLY, you fools (due to Notting Hill being weird).

Metropolitan: 10 stops

Northwick Park to Uxbridge and then back out to Hillington, assuming you get the right platforms at Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge.

Circle: 12 stops

South Kensington to Aldgate (that direction only because who knows what is going at Mansion House???).

District: 13 stops

South Kensington to Whitechapel. (Assuming you get ‘right’ platform at Tower Hill)

Northern: 16 stops

This is basically the route of the unfortunate Samir – Bank to Edgware – only you have to get even more unfortunate and remain stuck at Edgware until you are returned to Burnt Oak).

But the winner is…

Piccadilly: 19 stops

Credit to Henry Dyer for working some of this out before us.

Anyway: Assuming that a) you’re on a train that stops at Turnham Green, b) you get the ‘right’ platforms at Acton Town and Uxbridge, you could get stuck at Earl’s Court and not get freed until the train reaches Uxbridge, then reverses back out to Hillingdon. Then, and only then, will you be crowned best at getting stuck in the doors of the tube, unless you’ve been arrested by the British Transport Police, e.g. because someone has seen it, said it and sorted it.

Will you unlock the cupboard now, Jonn?

Addendum: We’ve just realised that of course that some train doors don’t open either side at certain stations with short platforms. Whether or not this opens up an even longer trapped-in-door situation is left as an exercise for the reader. If you find one, you will win the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve wasted even more of your life than we have.

With much help from Clive’s Underground Line Guides, Carto.Metro and this effort by TfL Tech Forum user Briantist.


Here are my five favourite London council estates

The Dunboyne Road estate. Image: Steve Cadman/Wikimedia Commons.

The author is a Labour member of the London Assembly. In the name of impartiality, CityMetric would like to extend the invitation to write similar columns to representatives of other political parties.

From successful post-war efforts to move families out of slums and into modern homes, to today’s efforts to construct a new generation of social housing, there’s much to be celebrated in London’s precious council housing stock.

This year we celebrate the centenary of the Addison Act, which established a national building programme with government funding for the first time. So here – in no particular order – are my top five London estates:

1. Dunboyne Road

In 1965, the newly established London Borough of Camden was bold and radical when it came to public housing. Their architect’s department boasted 98 staff, led by Sydney Cook. The Grade II listed Dunboyne Road (pictured above) was Britain’s first high-density, low-rise estate. Designed in the late 1960s and completed in 1977, it was the first major work by architect Neave Brown.

Its concrete construction and geometric layout are eye-catchingly modernist, but the 71 flats and maisonettes fit neatly into their surroundings; a reimagining of the classic London street for the 1960s. Each has a private terrace and own entrance onto the central pedestrian walkway and communal gardens, with stepped levels and dual-aspect windows creating light throughout.

Neave Brown himself lived on the estate in the final years of his life remarking, “Who am I to say, but it’s beautiful”.

2. Lilington Gardens

Located just off Vauxhall Bridge Road, the fourteen blocks at Lilington Gardens were built between 1964 and 1972. Between three and eight storeys each, it was again a rejection of the tower blocks which dominated the era, showing that mid-rise housing could provide both beauty and density.

Image: Ewan Munro/Wikimedia Commons.

At a time when Westminster could be proud of the quality of its housing, John Darbourne and Geoffrey Darke won a competition to design the new estate. The result was something special, eschewing modernist forms for something more rugged and layered. The layout allows for secluded green spaces, while the red brick cladding echoes the neighbouring Victorian church of St James the Less. Like all good estates, it included a pub – the Grade II*-listed Pimlico Tram (now The Cask). It was included not as an afterthought, but an integral part of the estate’s design.

3. Ossulston Estate

By the early 1950s, the London County Council’s architect’s department was the biggest in the world, building housing on a huge scale in addition to showp iece projects such as the Southbank Centre.

Though their suburban estates – Downham in Bromley, and Becontree in Barking and Dagenham – were pioneering examples of low-rise of modernity in metroland, these efforts did not always suit the needs of poor city dwellers who weren’t able to move further out. The Ossulton Estate, however, built between 1927 and 1931 on the site of a Somerstown slum and located between Euston and St Pancras stations, did exactly that.

Image: Stephen McKay/Wikimedia Commons.

Chief architect George Topham Forrest’s work was inspired by visits to ‘Red’ Vienna and Ossulston bears distinct similarities to Karl Marx-Hof, which was constructed at the same time. While the roofs and windows have traditional elements, the overall aesthetic is a modernist classic. Like many estates in post-war years, it suffered from neglect and a lack of investment, but following a £6m improvement programme by Camden Council in 2004, the Ossulston is now back to its brilliant best.

4. Alton Estate

Roehampton’s Alton Estate, completed in 1959, was designed by a team led by Rosemary Stjernstedt – the first woman to serve as a senior public sector architect in Britain.

The two parts of the estate – East and West – are the crown jewels of British post-war council housing. Alton West was Le Corbusier in Albion: six ultra-modernist blocks modelled on the Unité d’habitation in Marseille, set among the landscape inherited from the Georgian Mount Clare house. Alton East was a softer, Scandinavian-inspired design of the “new Brutalists” in the LCC.

Image: Stevekeiretsu/Wikimedia Commons.

Rising above the trees to the north east of Richmond Park, the Alton Estate stands testament to the visionary idealism of post-war council housebuilding. On its completion, visitors flocked from across the globe, with American critic G.E. Kidder Smith calling it “probably the finest low-cost housing development in the world”.

Sadly, Alton West however is now at risk from ‘regeneration’ proposals which would see 288 existing homes lost. While council estates should not be fetishised, with investment, improvement and expansion encouraged, any change must be done sensitively and with residents’ backing. I hope that Wandsworth Council and Redrow will follow the mayor’s Good Practice for Estate Regeneration and hold a ballot before plans go ahead, and that if they do, they build on Rosemary Stjernstedt’s legacy.

5. King’s Crescent

When it comes to regeneration Hackney Council have taken an altogether different approach to Wandsworth.

Located on Green Lanes opposite the magnificent Clissold Park, King’s Crescent’s route to a successful and well-supported regeneration project hasn’t always been an easy one. The early 1970s estate was blighted by poor construction, navigability issues and an ill-fated partial demolition in 2000 which turned much of the landscape into hoardings and rubble. But thanks to a step-change in resident engagement and a transformation programme funded by Hackney Council, by 2023 it will be host to 765 new and refurbished homes.

Image: David Holt/Wikimedia Commons.

In the era of government-imposed cuts to local authority budgets, councils have to be pragmatic about funding choices and the new King’s Crescent does include homes for private sale. This is understandably a source of some consternation, but it’s also the source of funding which has made the regeneration possible. Hackney has ensured that more than 50 per cent of the new homes are genuinely affordable, with 97 brand new council homes for social rent.

The new developments have greatly enhanced the area, using both new build and renovation to stitch the estate better into its Victorian surroundings. Existing homes have been retrofitted with balconies, while disused garage space has been repurposed for modern flats. Hackney have clearly thought carefully about character and open spaces, as well as ceiling heights, windows and internal storage.

It is an exceptional project – one of a growing number of new schemes now being spearheaded by ambitious councils across the capital. In 2018-19, the Mayor of London funded the start of 1,916 new council homes – the highest figure since 1984-85.

…what about the Barbican?

On the fiftieth anniversary of its opening, it would be remiss not the mention the Barbican. It’s a brutalist masterpiece and a fantastic feat of post-war planning and design. The location and design are clearly outstanding, but it’s the bright and modern interiors which are truly to die for.

So why is it not on the list? Although it was built by the City of London Corporation, not one of the flats was ever available at a social rent. The properties were built to let at market rents to workers in the City, who later found themselves in the fortunate position of being able to snap them up under the Right to Buy – still the fate of far too many of London’s vital social homes.

Tom Copley is a Labour member of the London Assembly.