Crossrail's Not Alone: The Victoria Line Almost Didn't Open On Time Either

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 6 months ago

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Crossrail's Not Alone: The Victoria Line Almost Didn't Open On Time Either
Victoria line being constructed
Tunnelling on the Victoria line. Copyright Transport for London

"Snag threatens new tube line opening".

Not a headline about that Crossrail delay (for the pedants among you, Crossrail isn't a tube line anyway). But rather, doubts about the Victoria line's launch.

It's from a Daily Mirror article, dated 31 August 1968 — the day before the Victoria line — then London's first new tube line for almost 70 years — was due to open.

Image: British Newspaper Archive

But the shiny new line was thrown into question with just 24 hours to go, when dampness affected the signalling equipment, and it had to be retested in its entirety before the first passenger trains could launch.

George Follenfant, London Transport's chief civil engineer, was quoted as saying "I think it will be ready on time" — which sounds a lot less confident than the quote regularly thrown around (until now, anyway), and attributed to various officials, that Crossrail will be delivered "on time and on budget". It's now very late opening, and millions of pounds over budget.

As it turned out, the Victoria line did launch as scheduled. The first passenger train ran from Walthamstow Central to Highbury & Islington at 6.30am on Sunday 1 September 1968.

Last Updated 30 March 2020

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