Two new London Underground stations were unveiled on Monday, connecting Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms to central London via the Northern Line.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan hailed the introduction of the sites to the network only weeks after pupils returned to schools and employees to workplaces, many for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
This is the first major expansion of the Tube since the Jubilee Line stretched eastward in 1999.
“We’ve opened the first major Tube extension this century, the first station to the Northern Line for more than 80 years," Mr Khan told Sky News on Monday.
“And what we’ve done is take the Tube to Battersea for the first time. It’s helping to support more than 25,000 jobs, including in Battersea Power Station, and more than 20,000 homes.”
He said the additional services would play “a major role” in London’s recovery from the Covid crisis.
The first train left Battersea Power Station at 5.28am.
Richard Gowers, a musician, took to Twitter to share photos of his early morning journey.
He said: “Once in a lifetime chance to take the first EVER Northern Line train (05:28) from Battersea Power Station. Yeah I know, I play the organ. All part of the job.”
Geoff Marshall, who runs a transport-themed YouTube channel, also posted pictures on social media showing himself in a crowded carriage on the first train to depart Battersea.
He wrote: “Yes we rode the first train! 05.28 out of Battersea Power Station …. station. It’s open!”
The opening of the new stations marks the culmination of a £1.1 billion ($1.5bn) project to extend the Northern Line into south-west London from its previous end point at Kennington.
Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the former industrial zone on the bank of the River Thames.
Battersea Power Station, a former coal-fired energy plant, was completed in 1935 and was in operation for decades before it closed in the early 1980s.
The site, noted for its Art Deco interior, has been transformed into office space and homes.
The Grade II* listed building is scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2022.
It will house more than 100 shops, restaurants and cafes, a 1,400-person capacity events venue, a chimney lift experience offering 360-degree panoramic views of London’s skyline and new office space which will be home to Apple’s new London campus, as well as 254 new residential apartments.
The Greater London Authority borrowed £1 billion for the project, which will be funded through business rates from the local area and about £270 million from developers.
Construction on the 3.2-kilometre twin railway tunnel between Kennington and Battersea began in 2015.
There will initially be a peak-time service of six trains per hour, falling to five per hour during off-peak periods, although frequency will double by mid-2022.
The opening of the two stations will bring the total number of stops on the underground network to 272.