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Friday, 1 July 2011

Another end of an era

The 1967 tube stock mock up at Acton Works

The days are streaming past so quickly I am sorry not to have posted a new blog for over a week.

It has been really busy but tonight there was chance to take a short break and ride on the last 1967 stock train on the Victoria Line.

The set, with 3079 at the north end and with appropriate headboards, left Northumberland Park depot just after 1400 today and ran between Brixton and Seven Sisters until 1930. (The automatic train operation signalling has already been decommissioned north of there).

Can it really be over 40 years since this stock entered service? The line itself had been under consideration since the war. At a young age I was taken to the Design Centre in Haymarket where a mock-up of the 1967 stock, and its attendant ticket barrier equipment was displayed. It all looked so modern and space-age.

In due course the stock arrived and entered service in September 1968 initially from Walthamstow Central to Highbury and Islington. How amazed we were with the new features - taller windows in the doors so we could see the station names, those split level armrests, and of course the famous automatic train operation which was a triumph of 1960s electro-mechanical engineering.

I also liked the different tiles at each station, featured in typical London Transport style, in a special booklet available in colour price 1/- (5p).

By 1971 the line had been extended southwards to Brixton - the first time since the 1920s there had been a new tube south of the river. I can remember vividly 23 July 1971 when I went on the first day of the extension (which co-incided, I recall, with the conversion of route 50 to DMS operation which I went on as well).

The Victoria Line decor was in the blue and grey colours associated at the time with mechanical efficiency under the direction of Misha Black. I recall a letter at the time in London Transport Magazine criticising the illuminated station name roundels as a waste although, as we know, lighting levels are lighting levels and what you don't do in one place, you have to do somewhere else.

Now it is amazing to realise that this stock, which I was to excited to see and ride on when it was new, has now reached the end of its passenger service life. The new replacement 2009 stock is now in total charge and with the departure of its predecessor, the regenerative braking system can be switched on. This will lead to increased efficiency and less heat generation. In due course the signalling system will be improved further to take advantage of no longer being restrained by the poorer performance characteristics of the older stock.

The passing of the 1967 stock was accompanied by a number of enthusiasts and staff but the general public will hardly notice tomorrow the gentle improvement in overall service on this and other Underground lines as upgrades occur. Even though trains are newer, journey times are faster, and waiting times reduced.


1 comment:

  1. It comes a bit of a shock, when things like this happen, to realise quite how long ago it was. I still have my Design Centre AFC ticket, my first day ticket from Walthamstow (most disappointed to find it was a BR(E) one instead of LT), and my leaflet describing each station's tiling. Next will be the A Stock and the memory of what they replaced.