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Victoria Line Upgrade

Combining a systems engineering approach with project controls became a critical success factor for managing the programme. 

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Our Experience

Victoria Line Upgrade

3 minute read

The challenge

London’s Victoria line was the first new deep Tube line to be built since the early 1900s and the first automatic railway in the world. It was a beacon of British engineering and innovation that revolutionised an industry and connected the masses. Modernising this historical achievement was one of the most critical and complex projects in Transport for London’s Investment Programme. 


The line’s critical assets – including signalling, train control and the trains themselves – all needed to stay operational while being fully renewed. In addition, there were track-side works and station upgrades. 


The contractual date was the end of 2013, however, when London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics, the team brought the target forward. The challenge was on to deliver the most reliable and highest frequency automatic railway in the world in time for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. 

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The solution

Many factors contributed to one of the most successful programmes in the history of Transport for London (TfL). Arguably the biggest was the implementation of a behavioural change programme across TfL that the Victoria Line Upgrade team fully embraced, turning clients and suppliers into a true ‘One Team’. Together, they managed to transcend individual organisational behaviours and created a culture where everyone wanted to work together to succeed and were fiercely loyal to each other and the mission. 


From a project controls perspective, we aimed to find a way to forecast in a highly complex, multi-disciplined environment. This involved developing and integrating plans for design, software, manufacture, infrastructure, assurance, operations and maintenance readiness amongst others and then giving the team a set of achievable targets and clear information on the direction of travel when things changed. 


Using systems engineering we worked as a team to develop a series of technical and operational configuration states involving every phase of the programme assets and operational concept. These helped define the high-level requirements, confirmed scope and identifi ed scope gaps. These were then planned, phased and integrated to define the critical path, and reporting against each element was then automated. 

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34 trains per hour. Passengers on the Victoria line are now benefitting from the most frequent train service in the UK.

More accessible with wider doors and more spaces for wheelchair users, on-board audio and visual electronic information for hard of hearing and visually impaired passengers and CCTV in every carriage.

Delivering more than

30% increase in capacity.


The impact

Keeping the integrated planning efforts at a level high enough to allow the local teams to be agile in problem-solving, combined with keeping each level of the programme focused on their accountabilities, allowed the management team to deal with risks, interfaces and strategic issues. 


Coupling this with transparent reporting to senior management and the culture to succeed enabled a view of the delivery landscape that was achievable and had buy-in from internal and external parties. The result was a cross-organisation ‘Virtual Team’ that used simple, clear, integrated information to revolutionise the Victoria line in time for one of the most successful Olympics in history. 

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