London Underground: What do “fast” and “semi-fast” mean on the metro line and why we have them


The oldest metro line in the world has always been something to admire, whether it’s thanks to its innovative construction methods, its massive sprawl from city to countryside or the creation of the entire Metroland development that made of northwest London what it is today.

His calendar is something quite curious too. As the only London Underground line to officially publish a public timetable for all trains, its complexity may seem daunting, but it aims to balance the unique needs of passengers at either end of this highly unusual route.

In town the line shares tracks with two other lines, in the suburbs the line acts as an express service semi-duplicating a different line and beyond the city limits the line becomes a kind of railway line mid-suburb.

READ MORE: From London Underground to 100 bus lines: everything London could lose if TfL doesn’t get billions of dollars in funding

Thus, at each peak hour on weekdays and occasionally at other times, trains are divided into three service patterns: fast, semi-fast and all stations.

Here’s what each of these means means and how you can make sure you get to your destination as quickly as possible:

Fast trains



Fast and semi-fast trains run on tracks that do not have platforms in smaller stations served only by all stations like here at Northwick Park

Metropolitan Rapid Line trains run between Amersham or Chesham and Aldgate.

On weekday mornings (6-10am) they go from Amersham or Chesham to Aldgate and on weekday evenings (4-8pm) they go from Aldgate to Amersham or Chesham. Sometimes they can work at other times.

Fast trains stop at all stations between Amersham or Chesham and Moor Park, then run quickly to Harrow-on-the-Hill, then quickly again to Finchley Road, then all stations to Aldgate. In the evening, express trains to Amersham or Chesham also stop at Wembley Park.

A rapid train is only four and a half minutes faster than a semi-rapid train or seven minutes faster than an all-station train between Moor Park and Finchley Road, which means it is generally faster to take a slower train unless a fast train is scheduled within the next seven minutes.

Fast trains cannot get to Uxbridge and generally cannot get to Watford due to the track configuration.

Express trains typically use a different set of tracks between just south of Wembley Park and just south of Rickmansworth, allowing them to pass intermediate stations nonstop at high speed, but express trains can sometimes run nonstop on the lines used by all stations. at reduced speed.



We have created a Facebook group for people who travel on London’s bus, train, tube, Overground and DLR services.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest news that affects your daily commute to work, as well as on weekends.

We’ll also let you know in advance if there are any road, rail, or closures you should be aware of, or if there are any issues on the city‘s metro system.

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Fast trains should not be confused with the services of Chiltern Railways which offer the fastest journey times between London, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer and Amersham.

These are National Rail services, and although you can use Contactless and Oyster on them, just like the Metropolitan line, they run at different times, different rules apply and they are not operated by Transport for London. (TfL).

A Chiltern Railways train is nine minutes (seven if it also stops at Rickmansworth) faster than a rapid train between central London and Chorleywood, 12 minutes faster than a semi-rapid train and 15 minutes faster than a train at all stations.

As Chiltern trains run less frequently than Met trains, it is again generally faster to take a slower train.

Semi-rapid trains



Semi-rapid trains like this usually run between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays

Semi-express trains run to all stations except Wembley Park, Preston Road and Northwick Park. They can go to any destination, but usually between Baker Street and Uxbridge or Watford.

Just like express trains, in the evening, semi-express trains to Amersham, Chesham, Uxbridge or Watford also stop at Wembley Park.

A semi-rapid train is only two and a half minutes faster than an all-station train, which means that unless a semi-rapid train is directly behind an all-station train, it is usually longer. quick to take the train from all stations.

All stations

This one is explicit, these trains serve all the destinations of the metropolitan line calling all the stations en route.

There are a handful of metro line services every day that only run between Watford or Rickmansworth and Chesham or Amersham and do not have a service model description.

These trains are all station trains. On weekends, all trains are scheduled for all stations.

Trains can also run on a so-called secret part of the metro line which takes trains between Rickmansworth and Watford called the Croxley North Curve.

This part of the line is not shown on the metro map as it is only used by about three trains per day, hence why it is often referred to as “secret”.



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At the discretion of the line controller, when service is interrupted, the destination and service model of a Met train may change at any time during the journey.

An all station train from Baker Street to Watford can become a high speed train for Chesham at Finchley Road, for example if the conductor decides that this is the best way to provide the best service to the greatest number of passengers on the line.

For this reason, the metro line is full of signs telling passengers that if no direct train is indicated to their destination, they should take the first train and change if necessary.

Do you travel on the “fast” or “semi-fast” metro line trains? What do you think of the service? Tell us in the comments below!

You can read all the news, features and trivia related to MyLondon on Tube on our dedicated page here.


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