London Victoria station
Entrance façade of Victoria station
Location of Victoria in Central London
|Local authority||City of Westminster|
|Managed by||Network Rail|
|Number of platforms||19|
|Cycle parking||Yes – platforms 7–8 & 17–18|
|National Rail annual entry and exit|
|– interchange||4.801 million|
|– interchange||9.157 million|
|– interchange||8.319 million|
|– interchange||9.005 million|
|– interchange||9.638 million|
|1 October 1860||Opened by Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway|
|1860||Leased to London Brighton and South Coast Railway|
|1862||Separate station opened for London, Chatham and Dover and Great Western Railways|
|Lists of stations|
|WGS84||51°29′48″N 0°08′41″W / 51.4966°N 0.1448°WCoordinates: 51°29′48″N 0°08′41″W / 51.4966°N 0.1448°W|
London Transport portal|
UK Railways portal
London Victoria, generally known as Victoria, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground station complex named after nearby Victoria Street, the latter being named after Queen Victoria. With over 81 million passenger entries and exits between April 2013 and March 2014, London Victoria is the second-busiest terminus in London (and the UK) after London Waterloo. It is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail. The area around the station is an important interchange for other forms of transport: a local bus station is in the forecourt, and Victoria Coach Station for long-distance road coaches is nearby. Victoria is in Travelcard Zone 1.
Victoria is a London terminus for both Southern and Southeastern. Southern provides the majority of commuter/regional services to South London and Sussex as well as parts of East Surrey via the Brighton Main Line. Southeastern provides services in South East London and along the Chatham Main Line to Kent. It is also the terminus for the Gatwick Express service to Gatwick Airport.
There are effectively four railway stations on the site: on National Rail, two serving main-line routes in south eastern England, to Brighton, Hove, Worthing, Eastbourne, Canterbury and Dover; and on the London Underground, an underground station built by the cut-and-cover method serving the District and Circle lines and the deep-level Victoria line tube line station.
Victoria (first referred as the "Grosvenor Terminus") is the closest main line station to Buckingham Palace.
The railways serving destinations to the south of London were inconvenient for Central London as they terminated south of the river Thames, whereas the main centres of population, business and government were north of the river in the City of London, the West End and Westminster. Victoria Station came about in a piecemeal fashion to help address this problem for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and the London Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR). It consisted of two adjacent main line railway stations which, from the viewpoint of passengers, were unconnected.
Lines to Victoria
The London and Brighton Railway terminus at London Bridge provided reasonable access to the City of London but was most inconvenient for travellers to and from Westminster. As early as 1842 John Urpeth Rastrick had proposed that the railway should build a branch to serve the West End, but his proposal came to nothing. However, the transfer of the Crystal Palace from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill between 1851 and 1854 created a major tourist attraction in the then rural area south of London, and the LB&SCR opened a branch line from the Brighton main line at Sydenham to the site in 1854. While this was under construction the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway also planned a line from Crystal Palace, to a new station at Battersea Wharf, at the southern end of the new Chelsea Bridge. (Despite its location, the new station was called Pimlico; it opened on 27 March 1858.) Shortly afterwards the LB&SCR leased most of the lines of the new railway, and built a further connection from Crystal Palace to the Brighton main line at Norwood Junction, thereby providing itself with a route into west London, although it was recognised that a terminus would be needed on the north side of the River Thames.
The Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway
During the summer of 1857 a scheme for an independent 'Grosvenor Basin Terminus' in the West End of London, 'for the use of the Southern Railways of England' was mooted. The station was originally referred to as the 'Grosvenor Terminus' but later renamed 'Victoria' as it was sited at the end of Victoria Street. Three other railway companies were also seeking a terminus in Westminster: the Great Western (GWR), the London & North Western (LNWR), and the East Kent Railway (EKR). The first two already had rail access to Battersea through their joint ownership of the West London Line with the LB&SCR. In 1858, the EKR leased the remaining lines of the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway from Shortlands railway station, and also negotiated temporary running powers over the lines recently acquired by the LB&SCR, pending the construction of its own line into west London. On 23 July 1859 these four companies together formed the Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway (VS&PR) company, with the object of extending the railway from Stewarts Lane Junction, Battersea across the river to a more convenient location nearer the West End, and the following month the EKR changed its name to the London Chatham and Dover Railway.
The new line followed part of the route of the Grosvenor Canal with Victoria station on the former canal basin. It required the construction of a new bridge over the Thames, originally known as Victoria Bridge and later as Grosvenor Bridge. It was of mixed gauge to cater for GWR trains.
The LB&SCR had hoped to amalgamate with the VS&PR, and introduced a Parliamentary Bill to allow it to do so in 1860. This was opposed by the GWR and LC&DR and rejected. By way of compromise the LB&SCR was permitted to lease Victoria station from the VS&PR, but agreed to accommodate the other railways until a terminus could be built for them on an adjoining site.
Widening of the approaches
Victoria station proved to be unexpectedly popular for both the main companies, and by 1862 there were frequent delays due to congestion at Stewarts Lane Junction. In March 1863 the LB&SCR and the LC&DR jointly funded a new high-level route into Victoria, avoiding Stewarts Lane and requiring the widening of Grosvenor Bridge. The work was completed during 1867/8.
The Brighton station
The LB&SCR side of Victoria station opened on 1 October 1860, the temporary terminus in Battersea having closed the day before. It consisted of six platforms and ten tracks, with an entrance on Victoria Street. The site then covered 8.5 acres (3.4 ha) and also included a hotel, the 300-bedroom Grosvenor. From 13 August 1866 the LB&SCR ran services from Victoria to London Bridge along the newly completed South London Line.
In 1898 the LB&SCR decided to demolish its station and replace it with an enlarged red-brick Renaissance-style building, designed by Charles Langbridge Morgan (engineer). Since widening of the station was prevented by the LC&DR station and Buckingham Palace Road, increased capacity was achieved by lengthening the platforms and building crossovers to allow two trains to use each platform simultaneously. Work was completed in 1908, and included the rebuilding of the Grosvenor Hotel at the same time. The site then covered 16 acres (6.5 ha) with 2.25 miles (3.62 km) of platforms.
The LB&SCR introduced the first all-Pullman train in the UK in December 1881, to Brighton, as the 'Pullman Limited'. Another all-Pullman service was introduced in 1908 under the name of the Southern Belle, then described as "... the most luxurious train in the world...".
The London, Chatham and Dover station
The LC&DR and GWR jointly leased the 'Chatham' portion of the station for 999 years from 28 June 1860, with the GWR responsible for 6.67%. The LCDR completed its main line as far as Canterbury on 3 December 1860 and began to use the LB&SCR station on that day.
The LCDR and GWR opened their own station on 25 August 1862, occupying a less imposing wooden-fronted building with an entrance on Wilton Road. The Chatham line station had eight platforms, five of which were of mixed gauge, shared by broad-gauge trains of the GWR from Windsor via Southall.
The South Eastern and Chatham Railway station
From 1899 the LC&DR entered a working union with its rival, the South Eastern, to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR). As a result, services from its station at Victoria began to be rationalised and integrated with those from the other SECR termini.
The GWR ceased to use the station for scheduled services in 1915, partly due to World War I and partly through competition between Ealing Broadway and Victoria from the electrified District Railway. The station also became a terminus for trains carrying soldiers to and from France, many of them wounded. A plaque marks the arrival of the body of The Unknown Warrior at platform 8 at 2032 on 10 November 1920.
Southern Railway station
The two stations at Victoria came largely under single ownership in 1923 with the formation of the Southern Railway (SR). The following year steps were taken to integrate the two stations. The platforms were renumbered in a single sequence, openings were made in the wall separating them to allow passengers to pass from one to the other without going into the street, and alterations were made to the tracks to allow for interchangeable working. The SR also concentrated Continental steamer traffic at Victoria, introducing the most famous of those trains, the Golden Arrow, in 1926, and the Night Ferry in 1936.
The station had a news cinema (later a cartoon cinema) that showed a continuous programme. The cinema was designed by Alastair Macdonald, son of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and was in operation from 1933 until being demolished in 1981. The GWR remained part-owner of the station until 1932 thereafter retaining running powers, although it does not appear to have used them.
The station suffered bomb damage during the Second World War but not as much as other London termini.
The greatest change to the station during the 1920s and 1930s was the introduction of third rail electrification for all suburban and many main line services, replacing the original LB&SCR overhead scheme by 1929 and largely replacing steam traction, except on Chatham Section main line and Oxted line trains. Services to Orpington were electrified in 1925 and Epsom the following year. By 1932 the Brighton main line was electrified, quickly followed by those to other Sussex coastal towns and Portsmouth by 1938. The brand name "Southern Electric" was applied to all these services. The Brighton Belle, the first electric all-Pullman service in the world, ran from Victoria from 29 June 1934 until its withdrawal on 30 April 1972.
British Railways station
British Railways took over the station on 1 January 1948. During the 1950s and early 1960s British Railways (Southern Region) completed its Kent Coast Electrification schemes, which meant that most of the remaining services from the station were electrified, including boat trains. Some minor services were withdrawn, and the few remaining steam services, to Oxted and beyond, were replaced by diesel-electric multiple units.
The station was redeveloped internally in the 1980s, with the addition of shops within the concourse, and above the western platforms as the "Victoria Place" shopping centre. A major re-signalling scheme was also carried out. The station was managed by Network SouthEast also under British Rail.
The other major change to the station under British Railways was the gradual development of services to the new Gatwick Airport railway station after its opening in June 1958. In 1984 the non-stop Gatwick Express service was started, aiming for a 30-minute journey time. This was coupled with the provision of an airport lounge and check-in facilities at first-floor level, with dedicated escalators down to the Gatwick Express platforms. British Airways and other major airlines had their own check-in desks there.
British Rail International Travel Centre
British Rail used to operate a large International Travel Centre within the main station, separate from the domestic travel centre. At the time Victoria was a major departure point for international travel, with boat trains to Dover and Folkestone for France and Belgium and beyond. This ceased with the introduction of Eurostar in 1994, which did not serve Victoria, and the International Travel Centre eventually closed.
The station is run and managed by Network Rail.
- The eastern (Chatham) side, comprising platforms 1–8, is the terminus for Southeastern services to Kent on the Chatham Main Line and its branches. This is also the London terminus for the Venice Simplon Orient Express, from Platform 2, the longest platform. It was used for boat trains to Dover and Folkestone until these were made redundant by the introduction of Eurostar trains to the continent in 1994.
- The central (Brighton) side, comprising platforms 9–19, is the terminus for Southern and Gatwick Express services to Surrey and Sussex, including Gatwick Airport and Brighton on the Brighton Main Line and the East Grinstead branch on the Oxted Line.
The track layout does not allow much swapping, with only a few connecting flyovers between the main lines in the Battersea area, plus a single-track connection immediately outside the station. As the Brighton side is the busier of the two, disruption on that line sometimes results in some of its suburban services using the eastern side. This is particularly true of the Gatwick Express, which travels along the Brighton Main Line, but often diverts over Chatham tracks during engineering works to maintain service levels.
There are ticket barriers to all platforms. Platforms 13 and 14, where the Gatwick Express departs, were previously open but were gated in December 2011.
Services are operated by Southeastern and Southern, both owned by Govia. All services at Victoria use electric multiple unit trains.
Southeastern (Chatham Main Line)
Victoria platforms 1–8 provide the London terminus for services on the Chatham Main Line operated by Southeastern, serving South East London, Kent, the South East Coast and The Medway Towns. There are typical off-peak metro services to Orpington and Dartford as well as main line services to Ramsgate, Dover Priory, Gillingham and Ashford International.
The typical 2015 off-peak service run by Southeastern is:
- 4tph to Orpington via Herne Hill and Bromley South
- 2tph to Dartford via Lewisham and Bexleyheath
- 2tph to Dover Priory via Bromley South and Chatham
- 1tph to Ashford International via Bromley South and Maidstone East
- 1tph to Canterbury West via Bromley South and Maidstone East
- 1tph to Ramsgate via Bromley South
Southern (Brighton Main Line)
Victoria platforms 9–12 and 15–19 provide one of two London termini for services on the Brighton Main Line operated by Southern, serving South London, Sussex, Brighton and The South Coast. There are off-peak metro services to London Bridge and Sutton and main line services to Bognor Regis, Brighton, Epsom, Ore, Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central. Services to Uckfield ceased in 2003, with all services diverted to London Bridge, following the introduction of Turbostar DMUs on the route, as the new units were not permitted to use the Brighton Main Line platforms because their exhaust emissions were likely to set off the fire alarms at the station.
The typical off-peak service run by Southern in trains per hour is:
- 2 to London Bridge via Crystal Palace
- 2 to Sutton via Norbury
- 2 to Sutton via Crystal Palace
- 2 to Epsom via Hackbridge
- 1 to Epsom via Norbury
- 1 to Epsom Downs via Norbury
- 2 to Caterham via Norbury
- 2 to Dorking of which 1 continues to Horsham
- 2 to East Grinstead
- 2 to Brighton (express)
- 2 to Brighton (semi-fast)
- 1 to Portsmouth Harbour and Bognor Regis, dividing at Horsham
- 1 to Southampton Central and Bognor Regis, dividing at Horsham
- 1 to Eastbourne and Littlehampton, dividing at Haywards Heath
- 1 to Ore and Littlehampton, dividing at Haywards Heath
- 1 to Reigate
- 1 to Tonbridge
Gatwick Express, formerly a separate franchise but now operated by Southern, runs from platforms 13 and 14. It is a shuttle service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport every 15 minutes, and every 30 minutes services are extended to Brighton. The typical journey time is 30 minutes (up to 35 minutes on Saturdays). There is no longer an option to buy tickets on the train, following the introduction of ticket barriers in December 2011.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
Catford Loop Line
Chatham Main Line
(via Herne Hill)
Brighton Main Line
|Terminus|| Belmond British Pullman
|Preceding station||Crossrail||Following station|
|1–8||Chatham Main Line||Southeastern||Orpington, Dartford, Ramsgate, Dover Priory, Ashford International, Gillingham|
|9–12||Brighton Main Line||Southern||London Bridge, Caterham, Dorking, Horsham, Sutton, Tattenham Corner, Epsom, Epsom Downs|
|13–14||Gatwick Express||Gatwick Express||Gatwick Airport|
|15–19||Brighton Main Line||Southern||Brighton, East Grinstead, Littlehampton, Hastings, Bognor Regis, Portsmouth Harbour, Southampton Central, Reigate, Tonbridge|
Accidents and incidents
- 7 September 1866: a LB&SCR train was misrouted due to a signalman error and point actuator defect, collided with another, 7 injuries.
- 26 February 1884: an explosion occurred in the cloak-room of the Brighton side injuring seven staff, which was a part of the Fenian dynamite campaign.
- 27 August 1910: an LB&SCR derailment due to inadequate signalling arrangements, 4 injuries.
- 25 April 1933: Buffer stop collision due to driver error, 80 injuries.
- 17 July 1946: a light engine collided with a passenger train. several people were injured.
- 9 December 1949: Signal passed at danger, sidelong collision and derailment, 11 injuries.
- 15 December 1959: a passenger train collided with a rake of parcels vans. At least eleven people were injured.
- 8 September 1973: An IRA bomb exploded at the ticket office in Victoria Station, London, injuring five people.
- 18 February 1991: a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb exploded in a litter bin, killing David Corner, and injuring 38. A general bomb warning for all main line stations had been received by telephone at 0700, but the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch chose not to close the stations.
- In 2009 a woman was found by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) acting suspiciously. When approached she produced a gun and pointed it at a passing young child. Unarmed PCSO George McNaught of the Metropolitan Police wrestled the gun out of the woman's hands before overpowering and detaining her. The woman was arrested and PCSO McNaught was awarded the commendation of the High Sheriff of Greater London for his brave actions. He is the first PCSO to receive the award.
Entrance on Terminus Place
|Local authority||City of Westminster|
|Managed by||London Underground|
|Owner||Transport for London|
|Number of platforms||4|
|London Underground annual entry and exit|
|1872||Started "Outer Circle" (NLR)|
|1872||Started "Middle Circle" (H&CR/DR)|
|1900||Ended "Middle Circle"|
|1908||Ended "Outer Circle"|
|1949||Started (Circle line)|
|1969||Opened as terminus (Victoria line)|
|1971||Extended south (Victoria line)|
|Lists of stations|
|London Transport portal|
There are two connected London Underground stations at Victoria, on different levels and built more than a century apart. The older one, on the north side of the bus station, serves the District and Circle lines, constructed by 'cut and cover' methods just below road level. The newer station, closer to the main line station, serves the Victoria line, a deep-level 'tube' line. Each has its own ticket hall, and the two are connected by a pedestrian passage beneath the bus station.
Victoria is currently the fourth busiest station on the London Underground, after Waterloo, Oxford Circus and King's Cross St. Pancras, with nearly 85 million using the station (not including interchanging passengers) in 2013, of which around 60 million (including interchanges) use the Victoria line platforms. The station was not built for this number of passengers, which results in severe overcrowding. To prevent any dangerous situations like crowds pushing people off the platforms onto the track, crowd control measures are in place at the busiest times. This effectively means closing all the entrances to the Underground platforms and operating as an exit-only station until the overcrowding is relieved. These measures can last anywhere between a couple of minutes (when minor delays are occurring) up to several hours (during major incidents).
To provide a lasting solution to this problem preparatory building work has begun on major upgrade of the station. This will include a new northern exit/entrance on the north-west corner of Victoria Street which will be accessible via a new additional ticket office under Bressenden Place that will lead to both the Victoria line and the Circle and District line platforms. This upgrade is due to be finished by 2018, and tunnelling for the project was completed in September 2015. The work will also enlarge the existing Victoria line ticket hall serving the railway station and add a new relief bank of escalators there. This aspect of the scheme has been criticised as access to platforms from the new escalators will be very long and indirect compared to the direct access using the existing escalators. During the upgrade work, construction workers accidentally penetrated the signalling room of the Victoria line, causing quick-drying concrete to flood the room and resulting in the suspension of Victoria line services south of Warren Street. Services resumed the following day, after sugar had been used as a retardant to make it easier to shovel the concrete out.
Circle and District lines station
The first part of the station was opened on 24 December 1868 by the District Railway (DR, now the District line) when the company opened the first section of its line, between South Kensington and Westminster. The DR connected to the Metropolitan Railway (MR, later the Metropolitan line) at South Kensington and, although the two companies were rivals, each company operated trains over the other's tracks in a joint service known as the "Inner Circle". The line was operated by steam locomotives, creating the necessity to leave periodical gaps open to the air.
On 1 February 1872, the DR opened a northward branch from Earl's Court to the West London Extension Joint Railway (WLEJR, now the West London Line) at Addison Road (now Kensington (Olympia)). From that date the "Outer Circle" service began running over the DR. The service was run by the North London Railway (NLR) from Broad Street (now demolished) in the City of London via the North London Line to Willesden Junction, then the West London Line to Addison Road and the DR to Mansion House, the new eastern terminus of the DR.
From 1 August 1872, the "Middle Circle" service also began operation through Victoria, from Moorgate along the MR on the north side of the Inner Circle to Paddington, then over the Hammersmith & City Railway (H&CR) to Latimer Road and then, via a now-demolished link, to the West London Line to Addison Road and the DR to Mansion House, the new eastern terminus of the DR.
On 30 June 1900, the Middle Circle service was withdrawn between Earl's Court and Mansion House. On 31 December 1908 the Outer Circle service was also withdrawn.
In 1949, the Inner Circle route was given its own identity on the tube map as the Circle line.
Victoria line station
The Victoria line station opened on 7 March 1969, when the third phase of the line began operating, south of Warren Street. Victoria was the terminus while the final phase was under construction to Brixton, opened on 23 July 1971.
It has been proposed that the Docklands Light Railway become one of two projects for the future of Victoria station, the other being Crossrail 2. For a DLR station at Victoria, it would be underground through bored tunnels leading from Bank station, where it would branch into two tunnels, the other leading to St. Pancras International station via Holborn and Euston stations. From City Thameslink station the tunnel would branch south through Charing Cross and Green Park, eventually terminating at Victoria. The tunnels would be the continuation of the Jubilee line tunnels through the former Charing Cross station.
Victoria is also a proposed stop on Crossrail 2. The route was safeguarded in 1991 and 2007 and any rebuilding of the station will have space for Crossrail 2 platforms. In the safeguarded route it was between Chelsea and Piccadilly Circus.
|Preceding station||London Underground||Following station|
towards Edgware Road
towards Walthamstow Central
The station in fiction
In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, the title character was found as an infant in a handbag at Victoria Station, much to the consternation of Lady Bracknell. "A handbag?" "The Brighton line." "The line is immaterial!"
The station also appears in 'The Final Problem' (Sherlock Holmes). Victoria Station is the station Holmes and Watson depart from when fleeing from Moriarty.
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- Turner 1978, p.122.
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- Gordon (1910) p.157
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- Transport for London. Victoria tube station
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- See e.g. the submissions by the Victoria Interchange Group to the Victoria Station Upgrade Public Enquiry Archived 7 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Victoria Tube line part shut hit by wet concrete flood". BBC News. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- "Why sugar helped remove Victoria Line concrete flood". The Telegraph. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
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- "Safeguarding Crossrail 2 for the future".
- "Potential DLR extensions" (PDF). Transport for London. n.d. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
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- "London Connections: Look ma, Crossrail 2". Londonconnections.blogspot.com. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- "Victoria Coach Station". TfL. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to London Victoria station.|
- London Transport Museum Photographic Archive
- Main line station
- Underground station
- Station information on Victoria Station from Network Rail
- Platform Layout from Network Rail website
- More photographs of Underground station