The Victoria line is part of the London Underground system and is a deep-level line running from the south-west to the north-east of London. It is coloured light blue on the Tube map and is the busiest line on the network, in terms of how many passengers it carries per annum. It is the only line on the Underground, except for the two-stop Waterloo & City line, where the entire line is operated underground, with the only section of track to emerge above ground being the route to the depot from Seven Sisters to Northumberland Park.
The name "Victoria line" dates back to 1955; other suggestions were "Walvic line" (Walthamstow - Victoria) and "Viking line" (Victoria - King's Cross). Legend has it that a person in the planning department remarked that "Victoria line" sounded "just right" at which point it was adopted as the working title of the new line.
The Victoria line was designed to relieve congestion on other lines, in particular the Piccadilly line, as well as to maximise possible interchanges. It had been intended to build the line past Walthamstow Central to Wood Street (Walthamstow), where it would surface to terminate next to the British Railways station. However, a late decision in 1961, saw the line cut back to Walthamstow (Hoe Street) station which was later renamed Walthamstow Central in 1968.
Each Victoria line station apart from Pimlico was built as an interchange station and several existing stations were rearranged 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, while in others the Victoria line uses one of the older platforms and the existing line was diverted into a new platform.
At Euston, northbound Victoria and Northern line (Bank branch) trains run along adjacent platforms, although they are in fact, 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 non-descript cool blue/grey colour fashionable at the time. Each station was decorated with tiled motifs on seating recesses to distinguish them from each other. During the construction of the Jubilee line in the late 1970's, the original motifs on Green Park station were replaced by motifs matching the new design for the Jubilee line platforms.
The official opening ceremony took place at Victoria station on March 7 1969, The Queen unveiled a commemorative plaque on the station concourse. After a short ceremony, she purchased a 5d (five old pence) (2.08p) ticket and travelled to Green Park. Princess Alexandra opened the Brixton extension on July 23 1971, also making a journey from Brixton tube station to Vauxhall.
The Victoria line is served by a fleet of 43 1967 Tube Stock trains. Each is made up of two four-car units. The line is equipped with an Automatic Train Operation system (ATO); the train operator (driver) 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 and stops there. This system has been in place since the line opened in 1968, making the Victoria line the world's first full-scale automatic railway.
When the Victoria line was constructed, severe budget restrictions were imposed and 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, adversely affecting lighting levels. At most stations between the up and down escalators there is a concrete staircase where an additional escalator could be installed, but hasn't been fitted, which can cause severe congestion at peak times. 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 unsightly 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.
Supporters of Tottenham Hotspur (and the club itself) have campaigned for a surface station to be opened next to Northumberland Park Station, adjacent 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.
The TFL line diagram is available online.