LNER-owned Northern Line Tube Stock

Refurbished London Transport 1938 stock at High Barnet in 1986

The 1935-40 New Works Programme included a number of ambitious electrification schemes that would convert LNER branches into extensions of the Northern and Central Lines. The outbreak of World War 2 deferred many of these, and the sections from Mill Hill East to Edgware and the Alexandra Palace branch were eventually abandoned. However, the line between East Finchley and Mill Hill East / High Barnet was electrified and became a part of the Northern Line. For these extensions, the Northern Line received new '1938' rolling stock. 289 of these cars were set aside as LNER-owned, being an estimate of the number required for the proposed extensions. In reality, the LNER cars were identical to the standard London Transport stock with the exception of small 'PROPERTY OF LNER' owner's plates affixed to each car's solebar. The cars were maintained by London Transport. Confirming that their ownership was little more than an accounting device, many of these cars entered service on the un-related Bakerloo Line, and none went to the Central Line. The LNER-owned stock passed to the London Transport Executive with Nationalisation on 1st January 1948, but the LNER ownership plates remained in place until withdrawal or refurbishment in the 1970s.

The '1938' Tube rolling stock is considered a classic tube train design, and was built in large numbers and remained in service for a long time. Four experimental trains were built in 1935 and tested on the Piccadilly Line in 1937. In 1938, these trials resulted in an order of 1,121 vehicles consisting of 644 driving motor cars, 206 non-driving motor cars, and 271 trailers.

21 of the 1938 cars were withdrawn early and scrapped, usually due to collision damage. Normal withdrawals began in 1972. Between 1971 and 1978, thirty six seven-car trains were also refurbished and moved to the Bakerloo Line. The last of the original 1938 stock ran on the Northern Line on 14th April 1978.

LT 1938 stock converted for Isle of Wight, Ryde in 1989

Withdrawals of refurbished stock started in 1981, and only 16 trains survived by 1984. These were withdrawn during 1984-5. Of note is a 3-car train that was restored to its original appearance in 1984. Sponsored by a West End theatre agency, the train became known as the "Starlight Express", and worked on the Bakerloo Line until November 1985. All three cars in this train were ex-LNER: Nos. 10291, 012371, and 11291. Increasing traffic required that some of the recently withdrawn 1938 stock was still required as a stop-gap. Five complete 7-car trains returned to service on the Northern Line from 1986 to 1988. Ten of these cars were made of ex-LNER stock. The 1938 stock was finally withdrawn from the Northern Line on 19th May 1988.

Although the 1938 stock has been withdrawn from revenue earning service in London, a number of them still exist in use. Three of the ex-LNER cars have been converted into Ballast Motor Cars (L144, L152, L152), and No. 11247 was modified as Personnel Carrier No. PC 857. At least one of the trailer cars is also in use as a stores vehicle at Ealing Common Depot.

Outside of London, a number of 1938 cars remain in revenue-earning service! The Isle of Wight's Island Line has low tunnel clearances, and is usually operated by ex-Tube stock. In 1988, the line replaced even older Tube stock with a number of the withdrawn 1938 cars. These cars were refurbished, made into two-car sets, and classed as Class 483. Units 6,7, & 8 contain the six remaining ex-LNER self-propelling rolling stock that continues to be in revenue earning service!


Six ex-LNER cars continue in revenue earning service on the Isle of Wight's Island Line (see above).

A number of non-LNER examples of 1938 Tube Stock survive at the London Transport Museum, Acton.


EFE sell a ready-made static model of the 1938 Tube Stock for OO gauge (4mm scale). Although static, this model can be powered using a Tenshodo Spud.