The Metropolitan line is the most mainline in character of all the Underground lines (see the History later). It operates services from Aldgate in the City via the northern part of the Circle Line to Baker Street, and then on fast lines via Finchley Road and Wembley Park to [Harrow-on-the-Hill]?. There the line divides into a branch to [Uxbridge]? and a branch to [Amersham]?, [Chesham]? and [Watford]?.
The service pattern is somewhat more complicated than other lines, and is generally as follows (although changes in the peaks to offer more services to the City):
- [Uxbridge]? - Aldgate (all stations)
- [Watford]? - Baker St (all stations except [Preston Rd]? / [Northwick Pk]?)
- [Amersham]? - Baker St (fast from [Moor Park]? only calling at [Harrow]? / Finchley Road)
- [Chesham]? - [Chalfont & Latimer]? (shuttle)
In the peaks, more trains operate through from Baker Street to the City, including a few Chesham trains.
The branch to Amersham usually sees a half-hourly service, with Metropolitan trains alternating with half-hourly [Chiltern Railways]? services from Marylebone to Aylesbury, providing four trains per hour. You can use Underground tickets on Chiltern trains to Amersham.
The Uxbridge branch joins the Piccadilly Line at Rayners Lane. Although Piccadilly line runs some (not all) trains through to Uxbridge, journeys to most Central London destinations are faster via the Metropolitan line. (Example: King's Cross is 32 mins by Met from Rayners Lane but 49 mins by Picc) - this PDF shows journey times from Rayners Lane). The Met also operates a higher frequency to Uxbridge.
The Metropolitan Line is peculiar in that its rolling stock has very tall and wide carriages. It shares these with the East London Line. To understand the reasons for this, it is necessary to understand the history of the Metropolitan Railway Company.
Prior to the nationalisation of British Railways, one of the more ambitious companies was the Metropolitan Railway Company. They ran trains from Aldgate Station, out as far as Aylesbury and beyond. They had ambitions to extend this line out to Birmingham and Manchester, but this did not happen, as other companies were given licences to run services from Euston station. The Central London sections of the Metropolitan's track became part of the tube network, but the others were absorbed into the Chiltern line.
One of the factors and selling points with the Metropolitan's trains was comfort. The Metropolitan specified larger dimensions of tunnels than the other operating companies, and had their own stock which was wider, although this is much closer to the spec of overground trains, and similar in bodywork to the 313 units operated by Silverlink.
Another reason for different rolling stock is the higher top speed which the trains are comfortably capable of. The Metropolitan Line operates what could be described as an express service to places such as Amersham, Uxbridge and Watford. This includes fast and semi fast trains, which are non-stopping at Wembley Park, [Preston Road]? and [Northwick Park]?.
Both the East London Line, and the GN Electrics Line were originally run by the Conpany, hence have tunnelling capable of carrying the wider, taller trains. The East London Line carries the same rolling stock as the Metropolitan Line, but the GN Electrics Line is run by WAGN, and carries 313 units.