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Victoria line
Victoria line in Johnston typeface, as used by tfl
2009 stock at Euston.jpg
A 2009 stock Victoria line train at Euston
Stations 16
Colour on map Light blue
Type Rapid transit
System London Underground
Depot(s) Northumberland Park
Rolling stock 2009 Stock
Ridership 199.988 million (2011/12) passenger journeys
Opened 1 September 1968
Line length 21 km (13 mi)
Character Deep-level
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The Victoria line is part of the London Underground network. It is a deep-level underground metro line that runs from Brixton in south London to Walthamstow Central in the north-east. It started running in 1968. On the Tube map it is shown with a light blue color. It is the fourth busiest line on the London Underground network. It is the only line on the Underground, other than the two-stop Waterloo & City line, which is completely underground. The only section of track to come above ground is the route to the depot from Seven Sisters to Northumberland Park.

The Underground line has hump-backed stations which allow trains to store gravitational potential energy as they arrive and to then use this energy as they leave the stations. The stations are on top of small hills, or humps. As the train travels up the hill to the station its weight helps it to slow down. As the train leaves the station it travels down the hill, with gravity helping the train to speed up. This saves 5% energy and makes the trains run 9% faster. Each new platform built for the Victoria Line is 132.6 metres long. Around 200 million people use the Victoria line each year.


Victoria Line
Geographically correct map of the Victoria line

A new tube railway running from Victoria to Walthamstow was first proposed by a Working Party set up by the British Transport Commission in 1948. The main purpose of the line was to relieve congestion in the central area. The Private Bill needed to build it was introduced into Parliament in 1955. The Bill described a line from Victoria to Walthamstow (Wood Street). There was also a proposal for an extension from Victoria to Fulham Broadway station on the District line, but this was not included in the Bill.

The construction work on the Walthamstow–Victoria section began in 1962. It continued until 1972, when Pimlico station was opened. A test tunnel from Tottenham to Manor House under Seven Sisters Road had been constructed in 1959 and this was later integrated into the running tunnels. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the line during its construction. In July 1968, they visited the tunnels that were being built under Vauxhall Park.

Barbara Castle, the Minister of Transport gave approval on 4 August 1967 to build the Brixton extension. Preparatory work started at a site on Bessborough Gardens near to Vauxhall Bridge Road in May 1967. On 28 June 1968, Richard Marsh, then Minister of Transport approved the proposal to build a station at Pimlico.

The name "Victoria line" dates back to 1955. Other suggestions were "Walvic line" (Walthamstow Central stationVictoria station) and "Viking line" (Victoria station–King's Cross station). During the planning stages, it was known as Route C. Later, it was named the Victoria line after Victoria Station by David McKenna. This suggestion was seconded by Sir John Elliot.

The Victoria line was designed to get rid of build-ups of traffic on other lines, such as the Piccadilly line. It was also designed to have as many interchanges as possible, and all stations except Pimlico have an interchange with at least one other London Underground or National Rail line. It had been intended to build the line past Walthamstow Central to Wood Street (Walthamstow), where it would come above ground to terminate next to the British Railways station. However, a late decision in 1961 saw the line cut back to Walthamstow Central station. Until 1968 this station was called Walthamstow (Hoe Street).

Each Victoria line station apart from Pimlico was built as an interchange station and several existing stations were re–arranged to allow for cross-platform interchange with it. 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 moved toto a new platform.

At Euston, northbound Victoria and Northern line (Bank branch) trains run along platforms next to each other, although they are travelling in opposite directions. "Same-direction" cross-platform interchanges are available at Stockwell (with the Northern line), Oxford Circus (with the Bakerloo line), Highbury & Islington (with First Capital Connect, originally the Northern City Line) and at Finsbury Park (with the Piccadilly line).

All Victoria line stations were originally tiled in a light blue colour. Each station was decorated with tiled motifs on seating recesses to differentiate them from each other. During the construction 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.

Platform humps were installed on all Victoria Line stations, except for Pimlico, during late 2010 and 2011. This was done to provide step-free access to trains. The Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 created the need for the humps to be installed. The humps are a ramp type, similar to those being installed on some mainline stations. They are of a masonry construction.


The first section opened was between Walthamstow Central and Highbury & Islington. There was no opening ceremony for this. The normal timetable started on 1 September 1968. The first train left Walthamstow Central for Highbury & Islington at about 7:32 am. Later that year, the section between Highbury & Islington and Warren Street was opened. Again there was no ceremony.

The official opening ceremony for the line 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 (old pence) ticket and travelled to Green Park. In new pence this would be about 2.08p. This made her the first monarch to ride the Underground.

Princess Alexandra opened the Brixton extension on 23 July 1971. She rode the train from Brixton to Vauxhall.

Service and rolling stock

1967 Tube Stock at Holborn
The 1967 Stock was used until mid-2011. It is seen here in Holborn

Trains run every two minutes during peak periods (when its the busiest). In normal service, all trains run from Brixton to Seven Sisters. About three out of five continue to Walthamstow Central.

When the line first opened it was served by a fleet of 8-car 1967 tube stock trains. Each is made up of two four-car units. Later on, a number of cars of 1972 Mark I tube stock were adapted to work with the 1967 stock. This meant that there were finally 43 trains, each of which was made up of two four-car units. The 1967 tube stock was replaced by 2009 tube stock between 2009 and 2011 (see below).

At first, an articulated type of rolling stock was thought about. This idea was not used because it would have been too hard to move the stock to Acton Works for heavy overhauls. This is no longer a problem since train overhauls have been moved away from Acton Works to the builders' own works. The new 2009 tube stock is wider and the carriage is slightly longer. This means it can only run on the Victoria line, as it is too wide for the tunnels of other deep level tube lines.

London Underground 2009 Stock front
The 2009 stock at Green Park tube station. This stock has been the only stock used since 2011.

The line has an Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator (driver) closes the train doors and presses a pair of "start" buttons. If the way ahead is clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station and stops there. This system has been in place since the line opened in 1968. This makes the Victoria line the world's first full-scale automatic railway.


When the Victoria line was built, there were severe budget restrictions. As a result, the station infrastructure standards were lower than on older lines and on later extension projects. Examples of these lower standards include narrower than usual platforms and undecorated ceilings at Walthamstow Central, Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale. This also affects lighting levels. At most stations between the up and down escalators there is a concrete staircase where an additional escalator could be installed, but has not been fitted. It can cause severe congestion at peak times. This has been remedied at Brixton in 2004 and at Vauxhall in 2006 where an additional escalator has been installed in place of the fixed stairway.

In addition, there have been station closures for safety reasons, when both escalators have been unserviceable. Over many years, heavy equipment has been installed in fenced-off sections at the ends of platforms owing to the lack of anywhere else to install them. It is not clear from Transport for London's Five-Year Investment Programme whether these shortcomings are likely to be remedied.

The 1967 stock was replaced bit by bit from July 2009 as part of Transport for London's 5-year £10 billion redevelopment project. The replacement for the line's 1967 tube stock is the 2009 tube stock built by Bombardier Transportation. The first train was built in 2006. Testing of the new trains began in 2008. The main fleet began to be introduced in 2009 and went into main 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.

Supporters of Tottenham Hotspur (and the club itself) have campaigned for a surface station to be opened next to Northumberland Park Station, next to the line's depot. This would provide an improvement in transport links, seen as essential if the club's wish to redevelop their ground and increase crowd capacity is to become a reality. The idea was looked into but Network Rail own the necessary land and need it for their own expansion plans.

When Crossrail 2 is built, it will lower the number of passengers on the Victoria line (there are too many at the moment). It will offer an alternative route across Central London between Victoria and King's Cross St. Pancras.

For many years there have been proposals to extend southwards from Brixton one stop to Herne Hill. Herne Hill is a railway station that can link passengers to Kent and other places. The tube station would be on a large reversing loop with one platform. This would remove a problem of having too many trains by getting rid if the need for trains to reverse at Brixton. However, this would cost too much money for how little it would actually help passengers. Given that the line is very overcrowded, this is the only extension that could ever happen.

London Underground 2009 Stock
A diagram of the driving car of the 2009 tube stock.


Step-free access notification (Victoria line)
Notice explaining about step-free access. This can be found inside every Victoria line train.
Station Image Opened Motif
Walthamstow Central London Overground Walthamstow Central stn new entrance.JPG 1 September, 1968 Motif: William Morris pattern by Julia Black.
Blackhorse Road London Overground Blackhorse Road stn building.JPG 1 September, 1968 Motif: A Black Horse by Hans Unger.
Tottenham Hale National Rail Handicapped/disabled access Tottenham Hale station 070414.JPG 1 September, 1968 Motif: A ferry punt by Edward Bawden — referencing the station's location on Ferry Lane and the former ferry crossing.
Seven Sisters National Rail Seven Sisters stn subway entrance southwest.JPG 1 September, 1968 Motif: Seven Elm trees on green background by Hans Unger.
Finsbury Park National Rail Finsbury Park tube stn entrance Station Place.JPG 1 September, 1968 Motif: Crossed duelling pistols by Tom Eckersley — referencing the park's use as a duelling venue.
Highbury & Islington London Overground National Rail Highbury & Islington station building.JPG 1 September, 1968 Motif: Manor House on Highbury Hill by Edward Bawden.
King's Cross St. Pancras National Rail KXSP 2006-05-30 07.jpg 1 December, 1968 King's Cross St Pancras stn Victoria line motif.jpg Motif: Five crowns in a cross on a blue background by Tom Eckersley.
Euston London Overground National Rail Euston station facade.jpg 1 December, 1968 Motif: Doric Arch at Euston station by Tom Eckersley.
Warren Street Warren Street stn entrance.JPG 1 December, 1968 Motif: A maze or "Warren" by Alan Fletcher.
Oxford Circus Oxford Circus tube station - Bakerloo line entrance.jpg 7 March, 1969 Original motif: Abstract pattern in a circle with line colours of Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines by Hans Unger, present only on the southbound platform as of summer 2008. Second motif from 1984: Snakes and Ladders, present only on the Central platforms as of summer 2008.
Green Park Green Park Victoria Line train.jpg 7 March, 1969 Original motif: Green dots representing trees in Green Park by Hans Unger. Second motif from 1986: Leaves by June Fraser. Green dots restored by 2009.
Victoria National Rail (Airport interchange Trains to Gatwick) Victoria tube antrance.jpg 7 March, 1969 Motif: Blue cameo of Queen Victoria on pink background by Edward Bawden.
Pimlico PimlicoStation.jpg 14 September, 1972 Pimlico station motif.JPG Motif: A pattern of varied sized spots by Peter Sedgely — modern art at the nearby Tate Gallery.
Vauxhall National Rail Vauxhall cross.jpg 23 July, 1971 Motif: Old Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens by George Smith.
Stockwell StockwellTube.jpg 23 July, 1971 Motif: The Swan by Abram Games — references the name of a pub nearby.
Brixton National Rail Handicapped/disabled access Brixton Tube 2006-04-22.jpg 23 July, 1971 Motif: A ton of Bricks by Hans Unger.


2009 stock at Northumberland Park Depot

Northumberland Park Depot is the service and storage area for trains on the Victoria Line. It is the only part of the line not in tunnel. It is next to Northumberland Park railway station, on Tottenham Marshes, Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey.

The Depot is connected to the Victoria Line by a tunnelled branch line to a junction to the north of Seven Sisters. It was opened with the first stage of the line in 1968.

There is a local campaign for platforms for the Victoria Line to be built at Northumberland Park station. This is supported by the Haringey Council and by Tottenham Hotspur F.C. because the club thinks the new platforms are necessary for their plans to increase capacity at their White Hart Lane ground.

  • Brixton
  • Stockwell
  • Vauxhall
  • Pimlico
  • Victoria
  • Green Park (2nd version)
  • Oxford Circus (2nd version)
  • Warren Street
  • Euston
  • King's Cross St. Pancras
  • Highbury & Islington
  • Finsbury Park
  • Seven Sisters
  • Tottenham Hale
  • Blackhorse Road
  • Walthamstow Central

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Victoria Line para niños

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