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The first section of what is now known as the District line, started operation on 24 December 1868 between South Kensington and Westminster.
The District was the second company to operate underground railway services in London, and like its predecessor, the Metropolitan, its history is inextricably linked with that of the Circle.
The District was extended in stages beyond Westminster and the final link of the present day Circle line was completed in 1884. This link included an extension via Aldgate East to Whitechapel.
In 1869 the District started operating a line between Gloucester Road and West Brompton and the following year installed its own pair of tracks between Gloucester Road and South Kensington parallel to those of the Metropolitan Railway.
The District also put in connections from Earl's Court to both High Street Kensington and Kensington Olympia. The railway reached Hammersmith in 1874, Richmond in 1877 and Ealing Broadway in 1879.
The railway reached Hammersmith in 1874, Richmond in 1877 and Ealing Broadway two years later
In 1883 a short-lived extension was introduced to Windsor from Ealing Broadway over the tracks of the Great Western Railway. This service was withdrawn in 1885.
From West Brompton the service was extended to Putney Bridge in 1880 and to Wimbledon in 1889. In 1902 the Whitechapel & Bow Railway - with trains provided by the District - opened, allowing through operation to Upminster.
Further District extensions to Hounslow (1884) and Uxbridge (1910) were transferred to the Piccadilly line in 1964 and 1933 respectively. The District has always been closely associated with the operation of other railways, and in its time has run services not just to Windsor but also to Southend.
When Railtrack (now Network Rail) was set up in 1994, the District Line took over all the infrastructure of the line from Putney Bridge to Wimbledon including East Putney, Southfields and Wimbledon Park stations.
The Richmond branch of the line continues to be a joint operation with London Overground services over tracks between Gunnersbury and Richmond for which Network Rail is now responsible.
Improving the District line
District line facts
Number of passengers on the District line
The District line covers 64km (40 miles) and serves 60 stations, 42 of which are managed by the District line team. The maximum number of trains in service on the line at any one time is 76. This is made up of 68 D stock and 8 C stock trains (the C stock serving Edgware Road to Wimbledon only).
The District line covers 64km (40 miles) and serves 60 stations, 42 of which are managed by the District line team
The main service uses D stock trains which entered service between 1979 and 1983, and are maintained at the line's two depots at Ealing Common and Upminster. Refurbishment of these trains was completed in 2008.
Ealing Common also overhauls the trains and accommodates part of the fleet of engineers' vehicles needed for essential maintenance work throughout the Underground system. The Edgware Road and Olympia branches are served by C stock trains (which also run on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines) purchased in two batches in 1969 and 1977. The C stock is maintained at the Metropolitan and Circle lines' Hammersmith depot.
The District is one of the most complex of all the Underground lines to operate, with a single route eastwards to Upminster but to the west three branches to Ealing, Richmond and Wimbledon. The main central London tracks also accommodate the southern section of the Circle line. Additionally, there is a separate Wimbledon/Putney Bridge service to Edgware Road and a branch to Olympia.
All services pass through Earl's Court, which is the operational hub of the line.
The District line's stations reflect its long and varied history with a wide range of architectural styles, and include Barons Court and Fulham Broadway which have been listed as buildings of special interest.
Contrasting with the District Railway's early overall-roofed stations at West Brompton and Fulham Broadway are the ex-London, Tilbury and Southend Railway stations at Plaistow and East Ham with their ornately monogrammed canopy ironwork.
Ex-London and South Western Railway cottage-style stations at Wimbledon Park and Southfields are similarly distinctive as is the classic 1930s Charles Holden station at Chiswick Park (also listed). Hammersmith Station's platforms and circulating areas have recently been completely updated in contemporary style.
District line management
The District line's General Manager is Kevin Bootle.
London Underground is responsible for the maintenance, upgrading and renewal of the District line's assets.
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