1971 – September – the Victoria line opens

September 1971 edition of the Railway Magazine included an article on the opening of the final section of the London Underground Victoria line on July 23 1971.

Public opening of the 3.5 mile southward extension to the Victoria Line of London Transport, from Victoria to Brixton, took place at 15:00 on Friday, July 23, following a formal ceremony in the morning when Princess Alexandra pressed a button to start one of the Brixton escalators, rode in the cab of an automatically-driven train to Pimlico, and then transferred across the platform for a southbound train to return to Brixton.

My memory must be playing up on the opening of the line.  I recall it being open in 1976, when I moved to Kennington after university.  However, in 1973, when I was working on the Albert Embankment, near Vauxhall, before university, I recall getting off a southbound train that was terminating at Victoria.  I was with some work colleagues, and one of them got back on the train to pick up a discarded newspaper – and the doors shut and the train disappeared into the tunnel.  He reappeared about 10 minutes later, when the train returned into the other platform, for a trip north.  Some trains still terminate at Victoria, but we must have wanted a walk back to the office, rather than wait for a Brixton train.  The editorial had a good comment.

Look, no hands!

Automatic operation of trains on the Victoria Line – now fully open to Brixton – has demonstrated its worth, and provision for one-man crew is incorporated in the design of other stock being ordered by London Transport.  What are the possibilities of completely driverless trains, at least for urban rapid-transport?  Research is going forward with this in view, but for operation through single deep-bore tunnels it normally will be necessary to carry a qualified member of the staff to deal with any emergency which arises and to supervisee detrainments of passengers if necessary.  For accessible sections where it might be practicable, the travelling public would have to be assured on safety.  Resistance should not be insuperable.  Economic pressures have long since produced automatic lifts, including leviathans to and from underground platforms.  Admittedly these are restricted to “one engine in steam” shuttle service on each track; however, if the shaft is imagined horizontal, with stations instead of floors, the principle is not so different!

Reading these old articles, I have been amazed at just how many headlines could apply to today’s railways!

The 60’s and 70’s were a time of change on the railways, and not just the passing of steam.  This is well captured in a second short article.

Last LB&SC signal removed

The early hours of Sunday, May 2, saw the demise of another pre-grouping feature from BR lines – the LBSCR “standard” type wooden-arm lower-quadrant signal mounted on a wooden post.  The signal concerned was the Up Main (from East Grinstead) Home signal at Hurst Green Junction on the Oxted line, which was a fine example of the type.  It has been replaced by a three-aspect colour-light signal.

The Bluebell Railway Company had the purchase of the signal reserved for some years and several members of its preservation society turned up at the site to ensure that their acquisition did not get damaged during dismantling.

An interesting feature was that it was one of that select group of home signals that passenger trains are specially authorised to approach under the Warning Arrangement (Block Telegraph Regulation 5).  This was because the service required trains to leave Lingfield (the previous signalbox) before the preceding Up Branch train had passed the junction at Hurst Green, a short distance ahead of the signal, often for connection or attachment at Oxted.

Although this type of signal has now disappeared from BR, fortunately it is not extinct, for several other examples already are in working use on the Bluebell Railway.

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
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1 Response to 1971 – September – the Victoria line opens

  1. Duncan Bourne says:

    I asked about the signal that went to the Bluebell and Gavin Bennet replied:
    That post was at Horsted Keynes for many years outside HK Box as the then No 1 Road Starting as seen in this photo http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/pics/hk_box_b.html

    It was removed during the re-signalling works as it was in the way of the new connection to the new No 1 Road (formerly 0 road or officially Platform siding). It snapped just below ground level as it was removed.

    The only recovered wooden post still (just) standing is the Up Advance at Sheffield Park which used to be at the entrance to Newhaven harbour to signal ships in and out.


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