Which are the quietest tube stations?

Oooh, spoooky. Liverpool Street in 1912. Image: Getty.

Every year, Transport for London publishes data for “entries and exits” for each tube station. These figures, which show the total number of people who pass through each tube station, enable us to see how busy each station is.

Or, in some cases not. Because the same figures also enable us to ask: which tube stations are used the least?

The answer for 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, a beat of a cheat: Tufnell Park received by far the fewest visitors. But that doesn’t really count because it was closed all year so had no passengers whatsoever.

Ignoring that, then, the least busy tube stations are as follows:

10) Ruislip Gardens, Central line – 1.11m
9) Croxley, Metropolitan line – 1.05m
8) South Kenton, Bakerloo line – 0.95m
7) North Ealing, Piccadilly line – 0.89m
6) Moor Park, Metropolitan line – 0.88m
5) Chesham, Metropolitan line – 0.87m
4) Theydon Bois, Central line – 0.85m
3) Grange Hill, Central line – 0.65m
2) Chigwell, Central line – 0.55m
1) Roding Valley, Central line – 0.26m

These are mostly in the further reaches of suburbia on the Central and Metropolitan lines. Some of these stations, like Theydon Bois and Chesham, serve areas that are bordering on rural.

There are two exceptions to this. North Ealing, is in zone three; and South Kenton in zone four. Both of these, though, are in areas that are relatively well-stationed (if that's a word), and from which faster routes to central London are available:

Ealing.

Kenton.

Here's a map: we've imposed a tube roundel on each of the listed stations, so you can see at a glance where they are:

Click to expand, if you must.

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Does it matter that TfL are renaming White Hart Lane station Tottenham Hotspur?

New White Hart Lane. Image: Getty.

Pretend for a moment that you’re travelling in the London of 1932. You’re taking the Piccadilly Line northbound and alight at Gillespie Road station. The name should be obvious: it’s inscribed in bespoke brown tiling on the platform.

But that 31 October, following an intense campaign by the eponymous football club, the London County Council changed the station’s name to Arsenal (Highbury Hill). The area’s growing association with the name “Arsenal” ended in a lengthy negotiation that changed maps, signs and train tickets alike. Football had acquired so much power that it changed the name of not just a Tube station but an entire suburb, even before the era of Wenger or the Emirates.

Now the spectre of name changes is on the horizon once again. As Tottenham Hotspur FC inches closer to completing its new stadium, the club is clamouring for a renamed Overground station. Despite the fact the new stadium is located on almost exactly the same site as the old just off White Hart Lane, and fans have long been calling the scaffolding-laden mess “New White Hart Lane”, the club’s executive director is adamant that the station’s existing name cannot stand. White Hart Lane station, on the Overground line leaving Liverpool Street, is set to be renamed “Tottenham Hotspur”, at a cost to the club of £14.7m.

Little has been made of the fact that this peculiar PR kerfuffle is tied to Spurs’ failure to convince Nike to sponsor the venue. Some sources have even claimed that the sponsorship is yet to be finalised because it is somehow contingent on the renaming of the Overground station; beyond the ridiculous Johnson-era vanity project that was the Emirates Air Line, it seems improbable that TfL will allow any more corporate-flavoured information pollution. There will be no “Nike Stadium” station on the way to Enfield, much as there is no “Emirates” on the way to Cockfosters, especially if public consultation gets a look in.

The scene of the crime. Image: TfL.

But there’s a problem with the new name, all the same. “White Hart Lane” already means “football stadium”, in the same way Loftus Road or Stamford Bridge do. Changing it to “Tottenham Hotspur” risks opening the floodgates to an “O2 North Greenwich” or a “Virgin Euston” at some point in future, names as banal as there are dystopian. The Greater London Authority has promised to spend the £14.7m fee on community programmes in the local area – but that’s not much money to set the precedent that a private company can mess about with the Tube map.


What’s more, as CityMetric has often observed, there are plenty of station names across London that could do with a tidy up. Picking one that’s perfect already and asking for £14.7m to change it is adding insult to injury. How much would it cost a community group if they asked to change the name of Goodge Street to Fitzrovia? Why does a vast corporate entity backed by international sponsors and thousands of season ticket holders get to set the standard?

Back in Arsenal’s day, changing names on the Tube must have been easy; changes could be accommodated gradually without bothering the every day traveller. But in our world of online information, maps and apps, name changes are rather more complicated.

The question is – if TfL can bring itself to balefully accept this particular proposition, why can’t it accept ours? Why sort out a single non-issue on the Tube Map when you can catch lots of real ones in one go? A day’s pandemonium might just be a price worth paying to fix the Bethnal Greens problem once and for all.