Victoria line opens

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Victoria line opens

Victoria, London The 7th of March 1969 AD

Although plans for an Underground line running from North East to South West London were tabled as far back as 1943 as part of the County of London plan for post-war development, the project finally opened officially two and a half decades later in March 1969. The British Transport Commission had included the idea in its 1948 plans, the logic of a line to relieve congestion on other routes, and by cutting across other lines at the vast majority of its stations offering far more linkages and thus greater flexibility in journeys, being obvious to all.
Resources and finance were both tight in the immediate post- WWII period, however, and the new deep line, which would be the first such to be built since before WWI , was not considered a great enough priority for work to begin for some time.
In 1955 Parliament passed the bill giving the project the legal force required, and in 1959 a test tunnel was driven from Tottenham to Seven Sisters, but work proper on the line only began in 1962. Even before it was opened an extension was agreed, Barbara Castle as Transport Minister giving the green light in August 1967 for the system to progress from Victoria to Brixton .
The official opening was held on March 7 1969, when the Queen attended a brief event at Victoria Station before travelling one stop north on the new route to Green Park, paying 5d for the privilege. In fact parts of the system had begun operating the previous year, when the stations from Walthamstow to Highbury and Islington opened on September 1, using the Metro-Cammell rolling stock built in Birmingham for it.
The line was dubbed The Victoria Line even during the planning stages simply because it sounded right; though alternatives were considered - such as Viking Line - before the name was made official.
Certain of its features reflect the times in which it was planned and constructed - some stations have lower than standard ceilings with consequently poor lighting, and the decor of the stations is far from the glory days of Edwardian underground splendour, even the platforms being narrower than elsewhere. But The Victoria Line is now the most used in the whole network, vindicating the planners in the forties who dreamt up the idea in the first place. And in one aspect of its design it was ahead of its era: each station is 'humped', to help trains slow to a stop as they draw in uphill, and harness gravity as they start up again.

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