Essential work at South Kensington Tube station from 27 February

10 February 2021
"Replacing the escalators will improve journeys through South Kensington station for years to come and give the station - which is an important gateway to some of London's most famous cultural attractions - much improved reliability"
  • Trains serving the Piccadilly line will be non-stopping at South Kensington from Saturday 27 February 2021
  • Customers travelling for legally permitted reasons will still be able to use the Circle and District lines if they need to use South Kensington station
  • Work set to be completed by early spring 2022 

Transport for London (TfL) is reminding customers who use South Kensington Tube station that essential work to replace the escalators starts on Saturday 27 February 2021. It means that Piccadilly line trains will be non-stopping at the station from this date until early spring 2022. 

The vital replacement programme will see all five Piccadilly line escalators at South Kensington station replaced. The escalators, which were installed in 1973 and are at the end of their lifespan, have become unreliable and are the highest priority escalators for replacement on the Tube network.  
South Kensington station will remain open for Circle and District line customers who need to travel for legally permitted reasons. Customers will be able to use these lines if they need to alight at the station. 

If travelling from the west on the Piccadilly line, customers will be able to change by crossing a single platform at Hammersmith or Barons Court for the District line to South Kensington. Alternatively, customers can alight at Gloucester Road, which is an eight-minute walk to South Kensington. If coming from the east on the Piccadilly line, customers can alight at Knightsbridge and walk 14 minutes or catch a bus to South Kensington. Wayfinding signs will be on the street from both Gloucester Road and Knightsbridge stations and the area is well served by buses. Detailed travel advice for customers is available at

The essential work will mean that the station, which prior to the pandemic saw almost 34 million customer journeys each year and provides an important gateway to the world-famous cultural attractions in the area, will have five new high-performing escalators for decades to come. All work will be carried out according to the latest social distancing guidelines for staff and customers. 

The new escalators will be installed with cutting edge new UV light sanitising devices, building on TfL's ongoing efforts to keep services safe for customers with an extensive anti-viral cleaning regime. A successful trial has shown that these devices improve sanitisation levels on escalator handrails by at least 50 per cent.  

During the national lockdown, Londoners are reminded they should stay at home and should only be travelling on public transport for legally permitted reasons, including travelling to work where it cannot be undertaken from home, to shop for necessities, seek medical assistance, visit a support bubble or for education. TfL's enforcement officers and the police are actively enforcing the national requirement for everyone to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth while in a station or travelling on public transport unless they are exempt. 

Esther Sharples, Director of Asset Operations at London Underground, said:

'Replacing the escalators will improve journeys through South Kensington station for years to come and give the station - which is an important gateway to some of London's most famous cultural attractions - much improved reliability.

At nearly 50 years of age, they are some of the oldest escalators on the Tube network and have come to the end of their life. I'd like to thank customers at South Kensington in advance for their patience while this work is carried out and encourage them to check before they travel.' 

London Underground's escalators are heavy-duty machines and tend to be in operation in both directions for up to 20 hours a day. They weigh around 40 tonnes each and carry millions of people each year. A typical 15-metre rise escalator has approximately 15,000 moving parts. Twenty-five of the new high-performing escalators of the same type that will be installed at South Kensington Tube station are already in operation at London Underground stations. They have also been installed extensively on the Elizabeth line. 

During the lockdown, Londoners who need to travel for a legally permitted reason are asked to consider using London's network of safe walking or cycling routes where possible and to use TfL's travel tools to plan journeys by public transport during the quieter times. These are currently between 08:15 and 16:00 and after 17:30 on weekdays, and before noon and after 18:00 on weekends on public transport. 

TfL aims for services across the network to continue to run as close to normal as possible to help social distancing for those who need to travel, but like other businesses it could be affected by the impacts of coronavirus. The latest service information will be available online and through TfL travel tools including the TfL Go app. All customers are advised to check before they travel. 

An enhanced cleaning regime on London's transport network continues to make the network cleaner than ever. Trains, trams, buses and stations are cleaned with hospital-grade cleaning substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact and provide ongoing protection. 

Notes to editors:

  • There are two banks of escalators serving the Piccadilly line at South Kensington Tube station; two escalators operate between the ticket hall and a mid-concourse level and three escalators operate between the mid-concourse and the Piccadilly line platforms 
  • TfL has issued travel advice to the nearby vaccination centre at the Science Museum, to ensure that staff and patients are aware of this essential work 
  • The escalator replacement work is separate from the planned work to increase South Kensington station's capacity, which was paused temporarily due to the pandemic. Preliminary capacity upgrade works started in December with the removal of a retail kiosk to make more space in the ticket hall and support social distancing. They are also separate from TfL and Native Land's planning application for the Around Station Development, which is awaiting determination by Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. This application includes providing step-free access to the Circle and District line services at the station as well as the provision of new shops, workspace and housing, 35 per cent of which will be affordable 
  • More details about the Tube's escalator replacement and refurbishment programme can be found here: