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The Victoria line runs for 13 miles1 from Walthamstow Central at its northern end to Brixton in the south. It was opened in sections, north terminus first, between 1968 and 1971, and so the Victoria line sections of all these stations date from then. The first section was built between Finsbury Park and Manor House2, but after testing was complete and the rest of the tunnels were completed, it was decided not to open a set of Victoria line platforms at Manor House.
The Victoria line was built to relieve congestion on other lines, and so some of the interchanges were designed to minimise walking distance. This was done by either building the new tunnels next to the existing ones, or by swapping which line used which platform. The effect is that several interchanges allow you to continue a journey in the same direction, that is to say change from one northbound or southbound platform to the other, by walking about ten metres. The exception is Euston, where instead the northbound Victoria platform is intimately linked to the southbound Northern line (Bank branch) platform and vice versa. These platform-level interchanges of the Victoria line can be seen on a track layout diagram.
As a theoretical rough guide, trains take two minutes to pass from each station to the next, and with 16 stations on the line it takes just over half an hour to travel from Walthamstow to Brixton. However, due to extended stops in tunnels and at stations, trains may well take twice a long as expected. The Victoria line was the world's first automatic passenger railway, and the drivers simply operate the doors and then press the start button.
Known as Hoe Street station before 1968, Walthamstow Central is the northern terminus of the Victoria line, and lies underneath the national rail station of the same name. Originally it was planned that the line would take over the section of British Rail line between Walthamstow Hoe Street and Chingford, with the tunnels passing overground between Hoe Street and Wood Street stations. However, the recent electrification of the main line had caused a great deal of disruption to passengers, and so it was decided to simply terminate the line at Hoe Street and rename the station.
Access to the Victoria Line is via either of the mainline rail platforms3 - a major design flaw which can cause much congestion. It is difficult to get into the station when a southbound train is about to arrive or has just arrived, as the entrance to the station from the car park is on platform 1 and this is where all of the passengers for these trains will be. Also, the two subways from mainline platforms merge into one at the underground ticket barriers, creating an invariable bottleneck. The wiser commuter eventually learns when the Liverpool Street trains drop off on Platform 1 and times their entry to the station accordingly to avoid the crush.
The station's car park has ample space and is situated off Hoe Road. The station is not too far from the M11 via the North Circular, making this station popular with travelling football supporters. However, there are no toilets. Walthamstow claims to have Europe's longest street market with hundreds of stalls, and has generally been a residential suburban area since the arrival of the mainline railway in 1840.
This station lies on the corner between Blackhorse Road and Forest Road, and is connected to the Silverlink national rail station which serves the line between Barking and Gospel Oak. Due to its name, the station's tiled walls feature pictures of a black horse. The station has a car park with 350 spaces, but as with Walthamstow Central there are no toilets.
The surface building was the only free-standing station building purposely created for the Victoria Line, although due to the era in which it was built it bears remarkable resemblance to a pile of abandoned concrete shoeboxes. The British Rail station building on the other side of Blackhorse Road closed in 1981, and access to the Gospel Oak-Barking line railway platforms is now through the LU ticket hall. The area outside the station isn't particularly prepossessing - reservoirs and industrial estates to the west, and suburban streets to the east. Of slightly more interest is the Walthamstow Standard over the road, which is a well-established venue on the London live music scene. Many bands have cut their teeth on stage at the Standard on their way to fame and fortune, although these days it seems to prefer revivals and tribute bands to emerging young talent.
This station lies next to The Hale roundabout and is part of the Northern & Eastern Railway line station which serves trains between Stratford and Broxbourne. This service is currently run by 'one' trains. The station thus forms a major interchange with the rail shuttle towards Stansted Airport, as The Hale is the only usual stop between Stansted and Liverpool Street solely due to the presence of the Victoria line. during engineering work, trains run along the alternative route to Stansted, calling at Seven Sisters instead.
The station has a toilet and a small car park with about 60 spaces, and is the only station on the Victoria line to feature a lift as well as escalators. The lift lies at the north end of the platforms, and although it is well signposted, it is not well frequented except perhaps by those travelling to Stansted with heavy luggage. The Hale is also a reasonably major transport hub above ground, featuring usually well-stocked taxi rank4 and a decent-sized bus station. A large retail park is just a short walk from the station, and includes various fast food restuarants, cut-price supermarkets, electrical and computer superstores, motor parts, DIY and home furnishing stores.
This station lies at the northern end of Seven Sisters Road, and is next to the national rail station which serves trains between Liverpool Street and Enfield, currently run by 'one' trains. It is advisable to alight here from the national rail trains and take the Victoria line into central London instead of carrying on to Liverpool Street. The platforms' tiled walls are decorated with the 'seven sisters' stars of the Pleiades constellation. Seven Sisters is the nearest tube station to White Hart Lane, the home ground of Tottenham Hotspur FC, although fans have to change here take the overground line northwards towards White Hart Lane station. The area around the station at the bottom of Tottenham High Road comes under the heading of 'best avoided'. Due to the fact that the entire Victoria line is underground, a branch running north from Seven Sisters station leads off to the surface, towards the Northumberland Park Depot. This means that some northbound trains terminate here, and there are therefore two northbound platforms.
Connected to national rail, this station is essentially a y-shaped walkway through from the bus depot on one side to Wells Terrace and Seven Sisters Road on the two other sides, with the steps down to the platforms for the Victoria and Piccadilly lines on either side of the main tunnel. The northbound platforms are next to each other to allow easy interchanges, as are the southbound platforms, making this station more favourable to change at than Green Park or King's Cross St. Pancras.
There are also spiral staircases leading up from the tube platforms to the national rail platforms. The station serves wagn trains from Moorgate and King's Cross towards the north. If you look at the Victoria line platforms when empty, it becomes apparent that the platform slopes downhill towards the north, keeping with the shape of the line. This is due to the fact that these platforms were originally built as a terminus for the Northern Line branch from Moorgate, most of which became the British Rail Great Northern Electric suburban service5 in 1904. The station was also part of the failed Northern Heights scheme to electrify a now-disused line towards Highgate, and the viaduct for this line has since been demolished6.
This station is a short distance northwest of Highbury, the home ground of Arsenal FC, and so the tiled platform walls feature the signature guns of the team. As the station is situated next to Seven Sisters Road, it is close to the large number of flats and houses which mingle with a great many public houses, pound shops and off licenses to form the seedy-but-cheerful western end of Islington borough.
Highbury & Islington
This is a station with Victoria line and the Northern City line7 right next to each other, access to which is by escalators. The station also serves the Silverlink North London line from North Woolwich to Richmond. The station will be one of the nearest to the new Arsenal stadium at Ashburton Grove, along with Holloway Road and Arsenal station itself. Before the Victoria line was built, an older surface building which lies on the opposite side of Holloway Road was used. This building was in the process of being renovated in 2005 for use in the East London line extension northwards to a new terminus at Highbury & Islington station.
The station lies just south of Highbury Fields, and football supporters can reach the south end of Highbury stadium by walking up Highbury Hill, or by taking a bus from the north side of Highbury Corner, the road junction just to the east of the station. Buses from here also run in various directions towards Holloway, Hackney, Clapton and Central London. The area around the station consists mainly of flats and houses, but with a large number of shops on Holloway road to the west of the station.
King's Cross St. Pancras
This station serves six lines - Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Northern, Picadilly, Victoria - and is in close proximity to both King's Cross and St. Pancras national rail stations as well as King's Cross Thameslink station. The original Underground station on the Metropolitan line was built in 1863, and the Piccadilly and Northern lines arrived in 1906 and 1907 respectively. The station was moved westwards in 1941 so that it was nearer to the other lines, and some of the old station buildings were then used for the King's Cross Thameslink. The first Victoria line trains served King's Cross in 1968 after the second section of the line was opened between Highbury & Islington and Warren Street.
This station was the scene of the King's Cross fire in 1987, that apparently started under a wooden escalator coming up from the Piccadilly line. The fire lead to the replacement of all wooden escalator steps with metal ones8 and the introduction of a ban on smoking throughout the network. A remembrance plaque can still be seen in the tube station. On July 7, 2005, a suicide bomb on a train travelling southbound from King's Cross on the Piccadilly line killed 26 people. There were four such bombs on the same day, with three of them being on trains which run through King's Cross and the other on a nearby bus service.
The deep level lines are linked to the other lines underground, but also have a separate entrance inside King's Cross national line station. A long sloping tunnel links the Piccadilly line to the Thameslink station with steps down to the north end of the Victoria Line platforms along the way. You can get to Euston station by taking the northbound Northern line or the southbound Victoria line - this is one of the peculiarities of the London Underground.
At the time of writing, the entire King's Cross St. Pancras complex is undergoing redevelopment to allow for the arrival of a Eurostar international terminal at St Pancras station as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The original Victorian station hall will house the international platforms, while a new building further away from the tube station will house the national platforms. Meanwhile, new Thameslink platforms will be built underground at St. Pancras to replace those at King's Cross Thameslink, relegating the latter to just another entrance to the tube station by 2008.
Work is also taking to build two new ticket halls for the tube station, with one lying underneath the forecourt of St. Pancras station by Euston Road, and the other lying underneath the western concourse of King's Cross station. The existing ticket hall is closed during the works, with a temporary replacement lying above ground just in front of King's Cross station. The expansion of the tube station has already lead to the building of extra entrances on the south side of Euston Road, providing a subway to the original ticket office. The work is scheduled to finish in 2009.
As if all this redevelopment wasn't enough, there are plans to build a large number of houses, offices and facilities on the brown-field site between the railway lines which run from King's Cross and St. Pancras. Known as the King's Cross Central development, the project is scheduled for completion by 2015, and may lead to the reopening of York Way station on the Piccadilly line.
Euston is a national rail station which has platforms for both of the central branches of the Northern line as well as the Victoria line. This has not always been the case. The Northern line was originally formed by combining the City & South London Railway with the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway. Euston originally featured a pair of stations, one owned by each of the rail companies. Both lines opened in 1907 and competed, and as well as the Euston mainline station building, which was shared between the two, each line had its own surface building connected to it by tunnels. Both extraneous surface buildings were closed in 1914, though the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway branch surface building can still be seen at street level.
Later on, the Bank branch platforms were moved so as to be much closer to the Victoria line, and the disused platforms and tunnel to King's Cross are still there. The interchange from the Victoria line to the Bank branch is therefore quicker than to the Charing Cross branch. For more detailed information and pictures, see this website. For the current layout of the station see this map. The Victoria line and Charing Cross branch have platform level interchanges, with the northbound Victoria line lying next to the southbound Charing Cross branch and vice versa. These four platforms are all connected to a spiral staircase which provides at alternative route to the escalators which serve each pair of platforms. The tiled Victoria line platform walls feature the old Euston arch, which used to be the entrance to the mainline station before it was rebuilt in 1962.
Euston station contains a large number of amenities and its own pub, The Head of Steam. The station is within walking distance of many businesses as well as University College London, and so the station is often swamped by ambling commuters, making it difficult to navigate the tube station when in a rush. Euston also has a large bus station.
This station lies on the southwest corner of the junction between Euston Road and Tottenham Court Road, and was originally named Euston Road when it opened in 1907. After passing down one escalator, the walkway splits into two with separate escalators descending to the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line and to the Victoria line, both of which are served by the station. The station once operated using lifts, although only a small passage from the bottom of the Northern line escalators remains. It is advisable to change lines at Stockwell instead of Warren Street if you are continuing towards the north or south and passing by both stations. Due to the station's name, the tiled platform walls feature a maze pattern.
The station lies close to University College London, although Euston Square on the Circle line is closer. There used to be a subway underneath Euston Road from just outside Warren Street station, but this is now closed. Warren Street is within walking and jogging distance of Regent's Park, and due to its position at the head of Tottenham Court Road, the station is in close proximity to a large number of shops and public houses.
The station also serves the Central and Bakerloo lines, the platforms for which opened in 1900 and 1906 respectively. The two lines were then run by the Central London Railway and the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway companies, and so separate surface buildings and lift shafts were built at first, although interconnecting tunnels soon appeared. This wasteful duplication due to competition can still be seen, with the original Central line building lying on the southeast corner of Argyll Street and Oxford Circus, and the Bakerloo line building lying on the southwest corner.
The station underwent several improvements to add escalators during the first half of the 20th century, but then a new ticket hall was built in 1969 to allow for the arrival of the Victoria line platforms at the station. The hall was built directly underneath the road junction, and so between 1963 and 1968 traffic was diverted onto an 'umbrella' over the works. The northbound Victoria and Bakerloo platforms are next to each other to allow easy interchanges, as are the southbound platforms. Oxford Circus was the site of a tube fire in 1984, necessitating the closure of the line between Victoria and Warren Street. For more on the history of Oxford Circus station, read this article.
The very heart of London's shopping district, Oxford Circus is located at the junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street, two of the busiest retail streets in the whole of the UK. Consequently, whether you're going to one of the many nearby bars, restaurants or theatres, you can usually be sure that your journey will be barred by a few thousand people clutching handfuls of carrier bags full of their latest purchases. This inevitably leads to the atrocious rate of pickpocketing that takes place in the area, and it is advisable to keep said carrier bags as well as backpacks close to hand. The station is also five minutes away from BBC Broadcasting House, the home of BBC Radio.
This station also serves the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines, although it is inadvisable to change here due to the distances involved. In the days when Green Park station only served the Piccadilly line, it only had lifts and a spiral staircase. The surface building was located on Dover Street, and hence when it opened in 1906 the station was named Dover Street. After the station was refitted with escalators in 1933 the surface building moved to the northern corner of Green Park, giving it its current name. The present day station features tilework with leaves on, due to the proximity of a large number of trees in Green Park to the south. Although there are some exits on the south side of the road, the main station is on the north side of Piccadilly, diagonally opposite the famous Ritz Hotel. Passengers should also alight here for Buckingham Palace, and there are rumours that the Royal family have a secret emergency exit from Buckingham Palace onto the Victoria Line somewhere near the station. The number of small supermarkets near the station makes this a good place to buy a cheap picnic to eat in the park.
Victoria tube station lies just outside the national rail station of the same name, and also serves the Circle and District lines which have called here since 1868. This is the busiest station on the London Underground with 76.5 million passengers a year, and this can be seen quite clearly during the morning rush hour. There is a plaque at Victoria station commemorating the opening of the Victoria Line by a member of the Royal Family - the plaque is a metallic silver, with the Victoria Line featuring on it in its usual light blue. The exit at Victoria station features in the video for 'Strange Town' by The Jam.
The quickest route from the Underground station to Victoria Coach Station, the largest coach station in the UK, is through the national rail station. The area surrounding the station is generally devoid of shops and restaurants in a similar way to Bank station, and so it is not advisable to plan a night out here. However, there is of course a shopping centre and food court inside Victoria main line station above the Gatwick and Brighton line platforms, although even this area becomes pretty dead outside shopping hours.
This station is notable as being the only station on the Victoria line not to be an interchange and it is therefore the only completely new station created when the line was built. It is also the only tube station not to contain any of the letters in the word 'badger'. Pimlico was the last station to open on the Victoria line, with the first trains calling there in 1972. The station has several exits including an exit on either side of Bessborough Street, providing a subway beneath the road. The station is within ten minutes' walk of the Tate Britain gallery.
Vauxhall tube station has several exits, one of which leads to the entrance of the mainline station of the same name, which runs on a viaduct next to the Vauxhall Cross road junction. Stopping suburban overground trains from Waterloo towards the south call here, and so those travelling across London to catch a train south from Waterloo have two options - the Victoria line to Vauxhall station or the other Underground lines to Waterloo. The latter journey may take longer, but Waterloo is a much larger station with more amenities. Catching trains heading out of Waterloo at Vauxhall during peak times can be difficult, as some trains fill up completely at Waterloo leaving little or no room for more people.
As with Tottenham Hale, Vauxhall acts as a multi-mode transport hub for the surrounding area, with a modern and extensive bus station lying to the west of the rail station. The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket club and one of the venues for England Test Matches9 is within easy walking distance, and is well-signposted above ground, although naturally Oval station on the Northern Line is closer still.
This station also serves the Northern line, with the platforms for the northbound lines and the southbound lines each sitting in a pair close together. This makes the station a much easier place to change trains at than Warren Street if you are continuing towards the north or south and passing by both stations. Stockwell was originally the terminus of the Northern line, having been opened in 1890, with the line originally running from Stockwell and along the Bank branch to the now disused King William station.
Stockwell is one of eight tube stations to have a deep-level shelter connected to it. The shelter was built in 1942 and lies underneath the existing platforms, with exits both into the tube station and via two spiral staircases. One of these opens onto Studley Road, while the other, which is now a war memorial, lies in the centre of the junction between Clapham Road and South Lambeth Road. The shelter's current use is unknown.
In 1924, Stockwell station was completely rebuilt to the south of the original station, in preparation for the building of an extension of the Northern line between Clapham Common and Morden. The old surface building on Clapham Road was later demolished to be replaced by a ventilation structure for the Victoria line during the late 1960s. The original platforms may be seen from the train just north of the current station.
Both Stockwell and nearby South Lambeth contain large Portuguese communities, and so the area contains many Portuguese cafes, restaurants and bars. Although a reasonably pleasant area, it is often remembered as the scene of a notorious police error. In July 2005, a Brazilian electrician called Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by plain clothes police officers on a train at Stockwell after being mistakenly suspected of being a terrorist, and the following stories in the newspapers gave Stockwell a great deal of unwanted attention.
Brixton station lies on Brixton Road and forms the southern terminus of the Victoria line, with a national rail station within walking distance. It is inadvisable to walk the distance between tube and rail stations alone at night due to the prospects of being mugged by casual passers-by. In a similar way to Cockfosters station on the Piccadilly line, trains can terminate at either platform, but at Brixton this has lead to a slow turnaround time. The modern station building features a large glass window with the Underground logo on it. The tiled platform walls feature mosaic artist Hans Unger's depiction of a 'ton of bricks', this being a subtle pun on the station's name.
Once best known for the inner-city riots during the early 1980s, Brixton has enjoyed a renaissance over recent years and now enjoys a vibrant and lively (if somewhat overwhelming and intimidating at times) personality. Visitors to the area can browse the market on Electric Avenue or enjoy a gig at one of London's premier venues, the Brixton Carling Academy.
Although not a London Underground station at the time of writing, there is the possibility that the Victoria line could be extended towards the south to terminate under this main line station, thus solving the problem of slow turnaround times at Brixton.