1972 MkI tube stock

This page was fully revised on 16 July 2008.
Selected additions up to 8 December 2023.

[PHOTO: 1972 MkI stock at open-air station: 115kB]

This train of 1972 MkI stock is one of four which has been re-numbered, refurbished and converted to One Person Operation, and which now operates on the Bakerloo Line. Unit 3566 leads Northbound train no. 225 which has just arrived at Harrow & Wealdstone. (10 February 2004 at 16:52)


The first batch of 1972 stock consisted of thirty 7-car trains which were largely similar to the 1967-stock Victoria Line trains, but with Guard’s panels instead of Automatic Train Operation equipment. Each train was formed of a 4-car unit (Driving Motor - Trailer - Trailer - Driving Motor), and a 3-car unit (Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor - Trailer - Driving Motor), coupled together to form a 7-car train:


All 30 trains began life at work on the Northern Line, but only 20 trains ended their days on it. Some of the others are still in service on the Bakerloo Line; the remainder had been incorporated into the Victoria Line’s 1967 tube stock fleet which was itself withdrawn in 2011.

A second batch of 1972 stock was ordered, causing the first batch to be designated Mark I. The second batch now operates exclusively on the Bakerloo Line: see the 1972 MkII tube stock page for details.

Bakerloo and Victoria Lines

[PHOTO: 1972 MkII stock arriving at Baker Street: 97kB]

A southbound train arrives at Baker Street, headed for Elephant & Castle. This used to be the junction station for the two northern branches of the Bakerloo Line, to Stanmore (now Jubilee Line) and to Elephant & Castle. I have amended this photo to remove some graffiti from the front of the train, thus denying the vandals their publicity. (11 February 2003 at 16:29)

[PHOTO: tube train at open-air station: 108kB]

Above: A further view of Harrow & Wealdstone and a terminating train, which will reverse via a centre siding behind us. Bakerloo Line trains continued northwards from here up to Watford Junction until 1982; they run on Railtrack metals from a point just north of Queen’s Park, sharing the tracks with Silverlink services. (10 February 2004 at 16:52)

Of the ten trains that did not stay on the Northern Line, four trains (less two cars) were transferred to the Bakerloo Line fleet after after an abortive refurbishment program, and some 31 cars were incorporated into Victoria Line 1967 tube stock trains (operating only in the middle portions of trains owing to lack of Victoria Line Automatic Driving equipment, and that fleet since withdrawn). Note that in both cases these cars and trains were re-numbered to fit in with their respective fleets; they have been cosmetically upgraded to match their MkII counterparts, and there is little difference to be seen between them.

Driving Motor car 3122, from the former Victoria Line fleet but converted from a 1972 MkI stock car, is paired with 1967 stock 3022; the couple has been seen in 2018 alongside Acton Town station during the rebuilding of Acton Works; they await conversion to a tunnel cleaning train.

MkI stock on the Northern Line

With the introduction of the new Northern Line trains of 1995 stock, the remaining twenty trains of 1972 MkI stock were originally withdrawn on 2 November 1998. New guards were still being recruited up until April 1999 to replace the many existing guards who have transferred to other posts, anxious not to find themselves out of a job when guard-operation ceased for good. Getting rid of the (minority) 1972 trains as early as possible was intended to save the time and expense of training these new guards on both stock types (the other being 1959/62 stock).

[PHOTO: 1972 MkI stock entering station: 32kB]

This picture is borrowed from the Mornington Crescent page; a northbound train pulls in, 16 minutes after the noon re-opening of Mornington Crescent on 27 April 1998

[PHOTO: (blurred) 1972 MkI stock entering tube station: 43kB]

An awful picture — for every acceptable picture on this site there are ones like this normally confined to the private collection — but the rarity of its content means that it has to go in regardless. A Northern Line train on its penultimate day of service before initial withdrawal, liberally sprayed with red paint by vandals, enters Charing Cross southbound at 17:56 on 1 Nov 1998.


However, the desperate need for rolling stock on the Northern Line forced the reinstatement of several trains two weeks later on 16 November 1998; they were gradually withdrawn again down to two trains at the end of December, as more of the new stock entered service. During January 1999, these last two 1972 MkI trains were available for service; they were formed of 3227+3518 and 3202+3511. Three of the four units were among the six units that received external paintwork during livery tests: 3227+3518 carried the “blue doors” experimental colour-scheme, 3202 was painted in what was later chosen to become the standard LUL corporate livery.

Unfortunately, at the time I misunderstood my priorities(1) and, not appreciating that they would scrap 1972-vintage trains before ones dating from 1959, I was much more interested in photographing the latter. This explains why I have only this couple of poor photographs of the Northern Line 1972 MkI stock from its time in service.

The last journey

On February 2 and 3 1999, the last two trains of this stock were finally withdrawn from service — without ceremony — for what really was the last time! A colleague on uk.transport.london related how, on Friday 29 January 1999, he travelled to Edgware on the “blue doors” train where it was then failed for the amazingly simple reason that the motorman’s reverser key was jammed in the reverser-barrel! Enquiries have proven that 3227+3518 was subsequently split electrically at the join between the two units (using the Fault Isolating Switch (FIS)), allowing the train to be driven southwards on “half motors” to Golders Green and later Morden depot; naturally, this was done with the train out of public service. Once there, it sat over the weekend and was withdrawn from service for good on the following Wednesday, probably without even being repaired. Thus he travelled on that train on its very last-ever public duty, although neither he, it, nor anyone else knew it at the time!

Unit 3227 would go on to lead a pointless existence for over five years, while its “blue doors” 3-car counterpart 3518 didn’t even last a fortnight: it was taken away from Morden to Mayer Parry recycling in Newmarket to be scrapped, on 15 & 16 February 1999.

Withdrawn trains

The 4-car units, having cabs at both ends, are more versatile than the single-ended 3-car units, and several have been kept with any of a variety of future uses in mind. For instance, there were plans to use them to augment further the Bakerloo and/or Victoria Line fleets, though this didn’t happen and is now highly unlikely.

Further potential uses are discussed through the remainder of this page.

Withdrawn units of 1972 MkI tube stock can currently (or as far as I last knew, anyway) still be found at the following locations:

Units of the withdrawn stock had previously also been stored at Lillie Bridge depot, Neasden Depot, Highgate Depot, Uxbridge sidings, South Harrow sidings, and Hainault Depot; but these have all been removed.

Acton Works

A correspondent reports that 11 cars were removed from Acton Works by the end of April 2010, and transported by road to Eastleigh for disposal; they were in very poor condition with most of the interiors and equipment stripped and the exteriors badly vandalised. Gas-torches were required for separating the vehicles in the units.

If 11 cars were removed, that suggests that one 4-car unit remains; I haven’t currently been keeping track of exactly which units are where, so it may be that the left-over 4-car unit in this equation is in fact the one which had already gone to Doncaster to become the Asset Inspection Train. A correspondent advises that 4-car unit 3202 (which was in corporate livery) was used as the Acton Works shunter, though might recently (2018) have gone, while its corporate-liveried counterpart 3-car unit 3523 was scrapped in around 2017.

However, Acton Works is (as at late October 2018 anyway) home to cars 4511 and 3411.

Highgate Depot

[PHOTO: four withdrawn trains in sidings, daytime: 62kB]

Above & below: Withdrawn stock at Highgate Depot.

[PHOTO: close-up of withdrawn and graffiti’d stock, day: 68kB]

Three seven-car trains of the withdrawn stock (plus a train of 1959 tube stock) were captured on film at dusk on 1 May 1999; the location is Highgate depot. The left-hand-most train has its (unidentified) 4-car unit nearest the camera; the middle and right-hand ones have their 3-car units facing us: that in the middle is 3515, on the right (next to the 1959 stock) is 3530. All these trains have long-since departed the Northern Line, and indeed mostly been scrapped.

The closer view shows the front of unit 3530, whose DM car (as pictured) is now at the LT Museum’s “Depot” at Acton. A (presumably more recently stored) train of 59 stock is on the right. These sidings had recently been doubled in size to provide extra storage space, in connection with the 1995 and 1996 stocks being introduced to the system; hence the clean ballast, and the light-brown covering of oxide all over the rails, which on used tracks would partly be worn off and the remainder blackened by oil and dirt. All of the trains stored here appear to have double-red “end of track” lights at both ends; this is to do with the new trackwork not having been commissioned.

Note: These photos were obtained from Highgate Woods park; however, to get a photo from this angle would have meant looking almost exactly along (rather than through) the LUL security-grille fencing. Just at the best vantage-point, the LUL fence turns a corner allowing direct view through it at right-angles, but another netting-and-barbed-wire fence (protecting nothing in particular) prevents access to that point. The local vandals had cut a vandal-sized (room for a ten-year-old) hole in this secondary fence, so by carefully contorting and extruding myself through the helpfully-provided breach feet-first, I could bring my camera right up to the LUL fence for these shots! As it is, the vertical members of the fence, about 4 centimetres apart, create dark bands at either side of the pictures.

“Blue doors” unit 3227

[PHOTO: (former) ‘blue doors’ unit 3227 plastered in graffiti: 70kB]

Right: After withdrawal, “Blue doors” 4-car unit number 3227 continued its existence on LUL metals for a further six months — if “sitting over isolated current-rails in South Harrow sidings receiving nightly attention from vandals” can really be regarded as an existence.

It is generally accepted by many — but not the decision-makers, it seems — that any stock residing in South Harrow sidings for more than a few days will be fit only for the scrapyard when it emerges. 3227 was sitting right at the far end, which is a considerable way away (the camera was zoomed in to 200mm but the unit still appears distant); it had been awaiting its fate since the start of March 1999 and this photo was taken in the early afternoon of Saturday 1 May; it is unclear why it should have been dumped there rather than at a more secure location, given that its cars had been expected to be re-used. Perhaps it was still in disgrace for having failed at Edgware and thus ending its career as a Northern Line train…

For what it’s worth: also in the sidings at that time was a full-length train of 1983 stock and another 1972 MkI train (including 3205, which remained there until February 2000); these are in the far-right roads (behind the CCTV camera), obscured from my footbridge vantage-point by the trees.

At the end of July 1999, the four cars of unit 3227 were transferred to Neasden and from there by lorry to MOD Shoeburyness for storage; on the way, DM car 3227 spent the afternoon of 4 August 1999 blocking Southend town centre after the low loader got stuck at a mini-roundabout on the seafront!

Note: since creating this page it has come to my attention that displaying images of vandalism serves to give the vandals the publicity they crave. Unfortunately I am caught between two stools on this one: how can I bring the reader pictures of a given type of train if all examples of it have been vandalised?

The four cars of unit 3227 were taken by road from Shoeburyness to Booths of Rotherham to be cut up on 23–30 June 2004.

Unit 3229 at Aldwych

One 4-car unit, 3229, lived on the closed Holborn–Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly Line betwee December 1998 and November 2021, where it was available for filming work and for training purposes: apart from a visit or two to Northfields or Ruislip for maintenance, it has been there throughout this period. It tended to be stabled in the running tunnel between Holborn and Aldwych, with one of the Driving Motor cars within the crossover-cavern (between one tube and the other on the Aldwych branch); this allowed Test Train crews to access the under-floor equipment to “pull in” the Motor-Alternator relay manually if the batteries have become flat. The unit would then be given what could be termed a “rusty train” working of a couple of round-trips every month just to keep it in some sort of condition.

It went to Ruislip Depot for maintenance on 18 January 2006, and also visited Ealing Common depot (reason unknown); by that time it had been given a red-painted front on the “inner” cab 3329 end, presumably to improve its suitability for masqeurading as a modern train for filming purposes. It returned to the Aldwych branch on 24 July 2006.

Hywel Williams’ London Underground History site includes a virtual tour of Aldwych which provides a fine view of 3329 (prior to being painted red) in the Aldwych platform on page 2.

In June 2019, unit 3229 was transferred from Aldwych to Ruislip and then to Stonebridge Park, for various types of maintenance. AlexMetroman captured the moves on video and published them on YouTube.

It is reported that this unit was driven away from the Holborn–Aldwych branch for the last time on 24 November 2021, initially to the LT Museum compound at Ealing Common; and then on 16 December 2021 it was transferred to Ruislip Depot where during February 2022 it was being dismantled, to provide spares for the Bakerloo Line fleet. The remains of the four cars of this unit were removed by road during October 2023 to Staffordshire for storage pending scrapping.

Aldwych Branch decommissioning

In September 2023 the traction current supply to the Aldwych branch was decommissioned, as was signal PD6 which used to allow a train to leave the Holborn branch platform 5 eastbound onto the main Piccadilly Line. These works render the Aldwych branch ‘disused’ in the meaning of an operational railway, though the running rails are still present and a self-powered train/vehicle could still access it under special arrangements. It seems that the branch may be rendered unusable because of a plan to re-purpose Holborn platform 5 for works relating to the Piccadilly Line Upgrade.

Unit 3213: Asset Inspection Train (AIT)

Following withdrawal on 2 November 1998, 4-car unit 3213 was stored initially at Neasden; it had been moved to Lillie Bridge Depot by July 2000 when I saw it there, and all doorways, ventilators and other gaps had been sealed with gaffer tape to reduce infestation and decay.

During 2006 this unit was heavy-overhauled at Northfields Depot, and was then returned to Lillie Bridge depot on 16 February 2007 for onward transport to Doncaster by road. Unfortunately (and despite the overhaul!) it suffered a progressive loss of motoring and stalled on the way up the depot-access road at West Kensington, causing a delay to the District Line service.

Unit 3213 was duly conveyed to Doncaster, where it was converted into a new Track Recording Train (called the Asset Inspection Train (AIT). This is set to replace the existing 1960-/1973-stock hybrid). The AIT has returned to LUL and has been seen out on the South Ealing Test Track, but up to July 2010 (and even, I believe, up to February 2015!) it has not—so far as I am aware—been carrying out useful work, and the existing Track Recording Train continues to operate regularly.

By chance I encountered on the M25 one of the AIT’s Driving Motor cars on the back of a low loader at 10pm on 25 June 2021; a (since deleted) response on Twitter from Alex Thorkilsden indicated that the low loader had broken down just after leaving Northfields at 11am that day. The unit was on its way to be scrapped.

Units at Hainault

[PHOTO: Withdrawn trains hiding from vandals: 55kB]

1972 MkI tube stock in undamaged condition at Hainault Depot.

These two 8-car trains of the stock got caught on camera at Hainault depot, from a vantage-point at the north end of platform 3; each was in fact two four-car units coupled together. The four units were 3201, 3208, 3211 and 3230. They appeared to have been mercifully undiscovered by the vandals, and in fact looked quite clean. They had been taken there during December 1998 (see below for how this was achieved).

Speculation in early 1999 suggested that five 4-car units (these four plus 3212 which was stored elsewhere) might be sent to the Waterloo & City Line, freeing up the 1992 stock there for use on the Central: the latter trains off the W&C would have to undergo a large catch-up programme to receive all the modifications already made to the Central Line fleet, but this idea received serious consideration again in early 2001; it has since been abandoned, and indeed the Waterloo & City’s 1992 stock was itself sent away, refurbished and reinstated during the summer of 2006.

In January and February 2004 the sixteen cars comprising the 4-car units of 1972 MkI tube stock at Hainault depot were removed by road for scrap.

Unit 3511

A lone 3-car unit (number 3511) was deposited round the back of the depot in February 1999, just over two weeks after its final withdrawal from Northern Line service; I visited it in 2000 (photos may appear here at some stage). It remained there until October 2018, severely deteriorated and fit for little other than scrapping, and latterly minus its DM car 3511 which was recovered so that its cab section could be re-used. Underlondonman’s Blog has photos of it from February 2015 illustrating the parlous state into which it had been allowed to decay.

The remaining pair of cars, Trailer 4511 and Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor 3411 were removed by road on 18 October 2018 to Acton Works “for interior layout trials”, apparently.

How they got to Hainault

The five units at Hainault were long-term “special” visitors, not least because getting them there by rail was not an entirely straightforward task. The only rail access onto the Central Line is via Ruislip Depot (ignoring Ealing Broadway whose crossover is not used); so, the stock would have to travel across London in the Central Line tube tunnels. Why, you might ask, would this present any difficulties?

Unit withdrawal/scrapping data

It had been my intention to create a table giving the withdrawal date, location or scrapping-date, and other details, for each 1972 MkI tube stock unit. As it happens, someone else — from within LU — had the same idea and beat me to it. I agreed to collaborate with ‘Raggajohn’ on his version, which has since (November 2005) been removed from the web. Efforts to resurrect it will be made in the fullness of time. Watch this space.

(1) – For much the same reasons I never got a chance to photograph the Jubilee’s prematurely-withdrawn 1983 tube stock — I only travelled on it once, and then only between Charing Cross and Green Park!