The issue

Around this time of year we tend to experience problems with wheels on some trains. Areas of the tracks become slippery due to large quantities of leaf fall and wet weather. On slippery tracks the Piccadilly line train wheels can lock when braking, causing 'flats' to form. This damages both the wheels and the track.

In order to repair the wheels we have had to take up to 40 Piccadilly line trains out of service to ensure customer safety.

Following similar issues last year we carried out full leaf clearance on the line, vegetation management, and enforced speed restrictions to reduce wheel problems.

The longer leaf-fall period this year, coupled with the bad weather caused by Storm Angus, created conditions that caused a higher than usual proportion of our trains to be affected within a very short space of time.

Why only the Piccadilly line?

Piccadilly line trains are among the oldest on the network. Our newer trains have technology which reduces the impact of braking over leaves and in cold, wet weather.

Some areas of the Piccadilly line are also particularly surrounded by leaf-shedding trees, particularly on the Rayners Lane branch and between Oakwood/Cockfosters, so the problem is more pronounced here.

Fixing the issue

We're working around the clock at our Piccadilly line depots to fix the wheels so that we can return to a good service as quickly as possible. We are also transferring trains to depots on other lines to provide extra locations to fix the wheels. This means we are currently putting around two trains back in service each day.

Our weekday peak timetable requires 79 trains. When the train damage first occurred it required half of our trains to be taken out of service for repair.

We have been working around the clock to repair this. As of 14 December we now have 66 trains in service.

We are looking to restore a good service, and run trains to and from central London on the Rayners lane branch, as soon as possible.

Night Tube services start Friday 16 December between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal 5. These issues will not have an impact on this service as Night Tube requires fewer trains to operate.


We expect the disruption on the Piccadilly line to continue through next week.

In line with our refund policy, customers using the Piccadilly line who have had their journeys delayed by 15 minutes or more will be refunded the full cost of the single fare for each affected journey.

For Oyster users: refunds will be applied automatically when the card is touched in or out on the ticket gate at their selected station.

For Contactless payment: users will have the amount refunded directly to their bank or credit card account.

Due to the volume of refunds to be processed, it will take some days for the refund to appear.

For further queries

Please contact us using:

Online: Use our online form
Phone: 0343 222 1234* (option 2 then option 4 for contactless queries; option 2 then option 5 for Oyster card queries)

For the latest information

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