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Victoria line

Victoria line
Victoria line in Johnston typeface, as used by tfl
A 2009 stock Victoria line train at Euston station
A 2009 stock Victoria line train at Euston station
Type Deep Level
System London Underground
Stations 16 (4 Step Free)
Ridership 199.988 million (2011/12)[1] passenger journeys
Colour on map Light Blue
Opened 1968
Depot(s) Northumberland Park
Rolling stock 2009 Tube Stock 8 cars per trainset
Line length 21 km (13 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Transport for London rail lines
London Underground
Hammersmith & City
Waterloo & City
Other lines
Docklands Light Railway
TfL Rail

The Victoria line is a deep-level London Underground route running from Brixton in the south in Zone 2 to Walthamstow Central in the north-east in Zone 3 of London. It is coloured light blue on the Tube map. Unlike most other lines on the Underground, it runs entirely below ground.[note 1] Constructed in the 1960s, it was the first entirely new tube line in London for fifty years, and was designed to relieve congestion on other lines, in particular the Piccadilly line and the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line. The line has always been operated using automatic train operation, but all trains carry drivers.

The Victoria line is used by 200 million passengers each year, making it the sixth most heavily used line on the network in absolute figures, but in terms of the average number of journeys per mile it is by far the most intensively used line.[1]


  • History 1
    • Planning and construction 1.1
    • Opening 1.2
    • Subsequent events 1.3
  • Design 2
  • Service and rolling stock 3
  • Map 4
  • Stations 5
    • Step Free Access 5.1
    • Upgrades 5.2
    • Ventilation shafts 5.3
  • Depot 6
  • Possible future projects 7
  • Notes and references 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • References 8.2
  • External links 9


Planning and construction

A tube railway running from Victoria to Walthamstow was first proposed by a Working Party set up by the British Transport Commission in 1948,[2] though that largely followed a 1946 plan for a Croydon to Finsbury Park line. The main purpose was to relieve congestion in the central area. The necessary Private Bill was introduced into Parliament in 1955. It described a line from Victoria to Walthamstow (Wood Street). There was also a proposal, though not included in the Bill, for a subsequent extension from Victoria to Fulham Broadway station on the District line.[3]

Construction began in 1962 on the initial Walthamstow to Victoria section, opening Walthamstow to Highbury on 1 September 1968.[4] A test tunnel from Tottenham to Manor House under Seven Sisters Road had been bored in 1959 and was later incorporated into the running tunnels.[2]

In August 1967 the government gave approval for the Brixton extension. Preparatory work had already started at Bessborough Gardens near Vauxhall Bridge Road in May 1967. In June 1968 a proposal to build a station at Pimlico was approved.[2] The entire Walthamstow-Brixton line was completed in 1972.

The name "Victoria line" dates back to 1955; other suggestions were "Walvic line" (Walthamstow–Victoria) and "Viking line" (Victoria–King's Cross).[5] During the planning stages, it was known as Route C and then was named the Victoria line after Victoria Station by David McKenna, whose suggestion was seconded by Sir John Elliot.[6]

It had been intended to build the line beyond Walthamstow Central to Wood Street (Walthamstow), where it would have surfaced to terminate next to the British Rail station. Proposals were also made to extend the line as far north as South Woodford or Woodford, to provide interchange with the Central line.[7] However, in a late decision in 1961 the line was cut back to Walthamstow (Hoe Street) station, renamed Walthamstow Central in 1968.[2]


The first section to be opened was between Walthamstow Central and Highbury & Islington. There was no initial opening ceremony: instead the normal timetable started on Sunday 1 September 1968. The first train left Walthamstow Central for Highbury & Islington at about 6:30 am. Later that year, the section between Highbury & Islington and Warren Street was opened, again without ceremony, on 1 December 1968.[8]

The official opening ceremony took place at Victoria station on 7 March 1969: Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a commemorative plaque on the station concourse. After a short ceremony, she bought a 5d ticket and travelled to Green Park.

The 3.5 mile extension from Victoria to Brixton was approved in August 1967. At the time, London Transport mentioned the possibility of further extensions to Streatham, Dulwich and Crystal Palace but these were never built. Brixton was intended as a "park and ride" interchange point for motorists as it was expected to be located next to the southern section of the Motorway Box.

Princess Alexandra opened the Brixton extension on 23 July 1971, making a journey from Brixton to Vauxhall. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh had previously visited the line during its construction: in July 1968, they visited tunnel workings under Vauxhall Park.

When the line was opened from Victoria to Walthamstow Central the station at Blackhorse Road served by Kentish Town – Barking trains was ignored for interchange purposes and publicity materials even went as far as to state specifically that it was a station with no interchange. This was probably as the service was proposed for closure under the Beeching axe. An interchange was provided later, when surface line platforms and a connecting overbridge were built on the same side as the tube station and the original railway station was closed and demolished.

Subsequent events

On 23 January 2014, during upgrade work at London Victoria station, construction workers accidentally penetrated the signalling room of the Victoria line and flooded it with quick-drying concrete leading the suspension of services south of Warren Street. Services resumed the following day after using sugar as a retardant so as to make it easier to shovel the concrete out.[9][10]

The line was closed between Seven Sisters and Walthamstow Central from 8 to 30 August 2015 to enable engineering works to take place.[11]


Every Victoria line station apart from Pimlico and Blackhorse Road was built as an interchange station, and several existing stations were rearranged to allow for cross-platform interchange with the new line. In some cases this was achieved by placing the Victoria line platforms on either side of the existing station; in others, the Victoria line uses one of the older platforms and the existing line was diverted into a new platform.[2] At many points across the network interchanges with other tube lines are provided, which facilitate a wide variety of north/south journeys across central London.

All Victoria line stations were originally tiled in blue/grey. Each station was decorated with tiled motifs in seating recesses to help identify the station. During the construction of the first stage of the Jubilee line in the late 1970s, the original motifs on Green Park station were replaced by motifs matching the new design for the Jubilee line platforms.[2] These were in turn replaced in 2009 by replicas of the original design.

Each platform constructed specifically for the Victoria line from new is 132.6 metres (435 ft) long.[12] The line has hump-backed stations to allow trains to store gravitational potential energy as they slow down and release it when they leave a station, providing an energy saving of 5% and making the trains run 9% faster[13] to a speed of 87.2 km/h.

In late 2010 and 2011, platform humps were installed on all Victoria line stations except Pimlico to provide step-free access to trains.[14] This project was in accordance with the Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.[15][16] The Victoria line humps resemble in form the Harrington Hump, a ramp type being installed on some mainline stations, but are of a masonry construction.[17]

Service and rolling stock

1967 stock at Holborn
The line's original 1967 Stock was used until mid-2011. It is seen here at Holborn on a farewell tour.

Trains run every two minutes during peak periods. In normal service all trains run from Brixton to Seven Sisters, with roughly three out of five continuing to Walthamstow Central.[18]

When the line was opened, it was served by a fleet of 39 12 eight-car trains of 1967 Tube Stock trains. In the early planning stages of the line an articulated type of rolling stock was considered, but the idea was dropped because of difficulties in transferring the stock to Acton Works for heavy overhauls.[19] With the demise of Acton Works this no longer applies, and the new 2009 tube stock has a wider profile and slightly longer carriages which preclude it running on other deep-level tube lines.The 1967 stock were later supplemented by a number of cars of 1972 Mark I Tube Stock, transferred from the Northern line and converted to be compatible with the 1967 stock.[20] Ultimately there were 43 trains, each made up of two four-car units.

2009 stock stopped at Euston Station
2009 Stock at Euston

Replacement of the 1967 rolling stock began in July 2009 as part of Transport for London's 5-year £10 billion redevelopment project.[21] A new fleet of 47 eight-car trains called 2009 Tube Stock were built by Bombardier Transportation.[22] The first prototypes began testing in 2008. The main fleet began to be introduced in 2009 and went into squadron service - the majority of the trains in service - in 2010. The last of the 1967 stock trains ran on 30 June 2011, after which the whole service was provided by 2009 stock.[23]

The line is equipped with an Automatic Train Operation system (ATO); the train operator closes the train doors and presses a pair of "start" buttons, and if the way ahead is clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. This system has operated since the line opened in 1968, making the Victoria line the world's first full-scale automatic railway.[note 2]

The original signalling has now been replaced with a more modern ATO system from Westinghouse Rail Systems.[2][21] LUL claims that this is the world's first ATO-on-ATO upgrade.[22] The new system allowed a revised timetable to be introduced from February 2013, allowing up to 33 trains per hour instead of 27.[27] This in combination with the new, faster trains will increase the line's capacity overall by 21%,[21] equivalent to an extra 10,000 passengers per hour.[23]

From 12 September 2015, there will be a 24-hour Night Tube service on Friday and Saturday nights on the entire Victoria line.[28]


Geographically accurate map of the Victoria line


Victoria line
Walthamstow Central
Blackhorse Road
Northumberland Park Depot
Tottenham Hale
Seven Sisters
Finsbury Park
Highbury & Islington
King's Cross St. Pancras
Warren Street
Oxford Circus
Green Park
Station Image Opened Additional information Position
Walthamstow Central 1870
  • Victoria line service began on 1 September 1968
  • Connects with the London Overground
Blackhorse Road 19 July 1894
  • Current station opened 1 September 1968
  • Connects with the London Overground
Tottenham Hale Handicapped/disabled access 15 September 1840
  • Opened as Tottenham, renamed and beginning of Victoria line 1 September 1968
  • Connects with mainline services
Seven Sisters 22 July 1872
  • Victoria line service began on 1 September 1968
  • Connects with London Overground and mainline services
Finsbury Park 1 July 1861
  • Opened as Seven Sisters Road (Holloway), renamed 15 November 1869, Victoria line service began on 1 September 1968
  • Cross-Platform interchange with Piccadilly line[2] and connections with mainline services
Highbury & Islington 1872
  • Victoria line service began on 1 September 1968
  • Cross-Platform interchange with Great Northern trains to Welwyn Garden City.[2] Connects with the London Overground
King's Cross St. Pancras Handicapped/disabled access 1863
  • Victoria line service began on 1 December 1968
  • Connects with the Northern (Bank Branch), Piccadilly, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines and mainline trains
Euston 12 May 1907
  • Victoria line service began on 1 December 1968
  • Cross-Platform interchange with the City Branch of the Northern line.[2]
  • Connects with the Overground, the Bank and Charing Cross branches of the Northern line and mainline trains
Warren Street 22 June 1907
  • Victoria line service began on 1 December 1968
  • Connects with Northern line (Charing Cross branch)
Oxford Circus 30 July 1900
  • Victoria line service began on 7 March 1969
  • Cross-Platform interchange with the Bakerloo line[2]
  • Connects with Central line
Green Park Handicapped/disabled access 15 December 1906
  • Victoria line service began on 7 March 1969
  • Connects with Piccadilly and Jubilee lines
Victoria ( Trains to Gatwick) 1 October 1860
  • Victoria line service began on 7 March 1969
  • Connects with the Circle and District lines, and mainline trains
Pimlico 14 September 1972
Vauxhall 11 July 1848
  • Victoria line service began on 23 July 1971
  • Connects with mainline trains, and riverboat services
Stockwell 4 November 1890
  • Victoria line service began on 23 July 1971
  • Cross-platform interchange with the Northern line[2]
Brixton Handicapped/disabled access 23 July 1971
  • Connects with mainline trains within 100 meter walking distance.

Step Free Access

(Wheelchair symbol) and the text: Stations with step free access from the Victoria line platforms to the street are shown with this symbol.
Notice explaining about step free access. This can be found inside every Victoria line train.

Tottenham Hale, King's Cross St. Pancras, Green Park and Brixton have step free access from street to train.[29][30][31] Platform humps have been installed at all stations on the Victoria line (except Pimlico) to provide level access to the trains, improving access for customers with mobility impairments, luggage or pushchairs.[32] Vauxhall station is on an upgrade to provide step free access to the station in 2016.[33] Victoria station will also receive step free access along with the station upgrade in 2018.[34]


On 27 June 1991 the London Underground (Victoria) Act 1991 allowed for the construction of a new 43-metre (140 ft) underground pedestrian link at London Victoria station between the Victoria line platforms and the sub-surface Circle line platforms above.[35] On 18 September 2009 The London Underground (Victoria Station Upgrade) Order 2009 came into force, authorising the construction of a second 1,930-square-metre (21,000 sq ft) ticket hall at Victoria station.[36] By mid-2009 trial boreholes for a cooling system at Green Park station had taken place, with additional boreholes being scheduled to be created during the end of 2009.[37] In 2010 Engineering & Technology reported that 200 litres (44 imp gal) of water per second is being pumped through Victoria station from the River Tyburn, through heat-exchangers and into the River Thames, for the cooling system.[38]

Ventilation shafts

The aboveground Ferry Lane fan shaft building and emergency access point at Heron Island, approximately halfway between Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale tube stations
Ferry Lane fan shaft and emergency access point at Heron Island, approximately halfway between Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale

Around 50 shafts were created during the construction phase of the line.[39] Between each station remain midpoint tunnel ventilation shafts. Special "local arrangements" are in place should it be necessary to evacuate passengers from a Victoria line train out of Netherton Road emergency escape shaft.[40] Planning permission for the shaft at Ferry Lane was granted 11 January 1968.[41]

Between 2009–2014 thirteen ventilation shafts were scheduled to be revamped. In the first phase, during tranche 1 the air shafts for replacement were Drayton Park, Gillingham Street, Moreton Terrace, Purloss Road, Somerleyton Road and Tynemouth Road.[42] In tranche 2 for the second phase were scheduled those at Cobourg Street, Dover Street, Gibson Square, Great Titchfield Street, Isledon Road, Kings Cross, Palace Street and Rita Road.[42] By 2009 changes at Cobourg Street were in the planning stage, with demolition work at Moreton Terrace, Somerleyton Road and Drayton Park shafts having taken place.[37] Original planning permission for Netherton Road shaft had been granted on 8 September 1967.[43] On 31 March 2009 the demolition and rebuilding of Netherton Road shaft was allowed as permitted development.[44][45]


Two Victoria line trains sitting in sidings
2009 stock at the Northumberland Park Depot

Northumberland Park Depot is the service and storage area for trains on the Victoria line of the London Underground, as well as the only part of the line above ground.

Trains access the depot by a tunneled branch line to the north of Seven Sisters. Opened with the first stage of the line in 1968, the depot is next to Northumberland Park railway station, on Tottenham Marshes, Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey. As part of Transport for London's tube upgrade scheme, the depot has been expanded and upgraded to accommodate the new fleet of 2009 Tube Stock trains.[22]

Possible future projects

When the Victoria line was built, budget restrictions meant that station infrastructure standards were lower than on older lines and on later extension projects. Examples include narrower than usual platforms and undecorated ceilings at Walthamstow Central, Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale, adversely affecting lighting levels. At most stations there is still a concrete staircase between the up and down escalators, where an additional escalator could be installed. The lack of a third escalator can cause severe congestion at peak times. However, in recent years an additional escalator has been installed in place of the fixed stairway at Brixton (2004) and Vauxhall (2006).[21] There have been station closures for safety reasons, when both escalators have been unserviceable.

Supporters of Tottenham Hotspur (and the club itself) have campaigned for a surface station to be built next to Northumberland Park Station, adjacent to the line's depot, supported by Haringey Council.[46] This would improve the football ground's transport links, seen as essential if the club's wish to redevelop their ground and increase its capacity is to become a reality. The idea was looked into, but Network Rail owns the necessary land and needs it for its own expansion plans.[47] It was announced by Haringey Council in its 2012 A Plan for Tottenham report that there was "potential for a Victoria Line extension to Northumberland Park".[48]

Crossrail 2, also known as the Chelsea-Hackney line, is a planned but not funded project to build an additional route across central London between Victoria and King's Cross St. Pancras. This would be intended to relieve congestion on the Victoria line.

For many years there have been proposals to extend the line one stop southwards from Brixton to Herne Hill. Herne Hill station would be on a large reversing loop with one platform. This would remove a critical capacity restriction by eliminating the need for trains to reverse at Brixton.[49] The Mayor of London's 2020 Vision, published in 2013, proposed extending the Victoria line "out beyond Brixton" by 2030.[50]

Notes and references


  1. ^ The exception is a connection not used by passengers between Seven Sisters and the line's depot at Northumberland Park, position:
  2. ^ Although the system was tested on the Tube on a smaller scale before that, initially on a short section of the District line; then a larger trial was carried out on the Central line between Woodford and Hainault.[24][25][26]


  1. ^ a b "LU Performance Data Almanac".  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Horne, M.A.C. (1988). The Victoria Line: A short history. London: Douglas Rose.  
  3. ^ Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (April 1955). "Proposed New London Underground".  
  4. ^ "London's new tube starts work". Modern Railways (Shepperton, Middlesex: Ian Allan Ltd.) XXIV (241): 532. October 1968. 
  5. ^ "CULG – Victoria Line". Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  6. ^ Klapper, Charles (1976). London's lost railways. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.  
  7. ^ "Public Passenger Transport, London". Hansard. 18 December 1963. 
  8. ^ Rose, Douglas (December 2007) [1980]. The London Underground: A Diagrammatic History (8th ed.). Harrow Weald: Capital Transport.  
  9. ^ "Victoria Tube line part shut hit by wet concrete flood". BBC News. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Why sugar helped remove Victoria Line concrete flood". The Daily Telegraph. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "2009 Tube Stock on Track" (PDF). London Underground Railway Society. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  13. ^ MacKay, David J.C. (2008). Sustainable Energy - without the hot air (Free full text).  
  14. ^ "Tube Update Plan — Victoria". Transport for London. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "Victoria Line Platform Humps and RVAR". Livis. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "Victoria Line Platform Humps and RVAR" (PDF). Livis. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "Creating Step Free Access for All" (PDF). Marshalls. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Journey Planner timetables". Transport for London. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  19. ^ Day, John R. (1969). "XI. The trains". The Story of the Victoria Line. Westminster:  
  20. ^ Hardy, Brian (2002) [1976]. London Underground Rolling Stock (15th ed.). Harrow Weald: Capital Transport. pp. 10, 12.  
  21. ^ a b c d "Tube Upgrade Plan: Victoria line". Transport for London. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c Waboso, David (December 2010). "Transforming the tube". Modern Railways (London). pp. 42–45. 
  23. ^ a b "Final 1960s stock withdrawn from Victoria Line". Rail (Peterborough). 10 August 2011. p. 14. 
  24. ^ "Driverless metros poised to expand".  
  25. ^ "Automatic Train Operation on the Victoria Line". The Tube Professionals' Rumour Network. Retrieved 6 September 2007. 
  26. ^ "House of Lords Hansard for 25 Feb 1998 (pt 9)".  
  27. ^ "Victoria line customers have most intensive train service in the country" (Press release). Transport for London. 4 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Night Tube". The Future of the Tube.  
  29. ^  
  30. ^ "Step free Tube Guide" (PDF).  
  31. ^ "Avoiding stairs Tube guide" (PDF).  
  32. ^ "Victoria line". What We've Done.  
  33. ^ "£36m upgrade of Vauxhall Tube station reaches half way". 18 December 2014. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  34. ^ "Victoria". Improvements and Projects.  
  35. ^ "London Underground (Victoria) Act 1991" (Statutory Instrument). The National Archives. 27 June 1991. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  36. ^ "The London Underground (Victoria Station Upgrade) Order 2009" (Statutory Instrument) (2364). The National Archives. 28 August 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  37. ^ a b London Underground Limited (20 May 2009). Parry, Richard, ed. Performance Report to the Rail and Underground Panel (PDF). Managing Director's Report – London Underground (Report) (Period 13 2008/09, ended 31 March 2009) (Transport for London). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  38. ^ Douglas, Lawrie (2 July 2010). "Air-conditioning of London Underground — reality or dream?".  
  39. ^ Dunton, C. E.; Kell, J.; Morgan, H. D. (1 June 1966). "Discussion on Paper No. 6845". Victoria Line: experimentation, design, programming, and early progress (PDF). ICE Proceedings (Report) 34 (3) ( 
  40. ^ London Underground (28 April 2002). "Detrainment of Passengers" (PDF). Standards. Tc100 (The Independent) (02): 1. 
  41. ^ "OLD/1968/0211". Online Planning Services. Haringey Council. 11 January 1968. Retrieved 1 August 2013. Land At Ferry Lane: Construction of new fan house form Victoria Line. 
  42. ^ a b Klettner (24 January 2008). "Underground keeps its cool". Construction News. Event occurs at Andrea. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  43. ^ "OLD/1967/0517". Online Planning Services. Haringey Council. 8 September 1967. Retrieved 1 August 2013. Construction of new ventilation shaft and emergency staircase for Victoria Line. 
  44. ^ Urban Environment Directorate (6 April 2004). "01/03/2009 to 31/03/2009". HGY/2009/0151: LUL Mid-Tunnel Vent Shaft, Netherton Road N15 (PDF). Planning Applications Decided (Report) (Haringey Council). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2012. Demolition and rebuilding of existing headhouse in order to upgrade existing cooling system to Victoria Line. 
  45. ^ "HGY/2009/0151". Online Planning Services. Haringey Council. 31 March 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2013. Demolition and rebuilding of existing headhouse in order to upgrade existing cooling system to Victoria Line. 
  46. ^ "Victoria Line to Northumberland Park". 10 June 2005. 
  47. ^ "Have/would we consider extending the Victoria line to Northumberland Park?". Transport for London. Retrieved 7 February 2008. 
  48. ^ Strickland, Alan; Kober, Claire; Vanier, Bernice; Lipton, Stuart;  
  49. ^ "Unlocking Herne Hill and the Kent route to the City". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  50. ^ (Click on the arrow pointing south east from Brixton and then, on the popup, click on "more")

External links

  • "The Victoria Line Story". 1960s documentary (1h 40m). Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  • "Opening of the Victoria Line". British Pathe. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  • "Victoria line". Clive's UndergrounD Line Guides. 30 December 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  • "Automatic Train Operation on the Victoria Line". Tube Prune. 15 March 2003. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  • "BCV (Bakerloo, Central & Victoria) Upgrade". 8 September 2006. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  • "Victoria Line Underground Stations – Facts, Trivia And Impressions". 22 October 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  • London Transport Museum Poster Archive – images of the station tiling motifs:
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