The first of the new tube trains being built for the Piccadilly line has arrived at the manufacturer’s testing centre in Wegberg-Wildenrath, Germany after being spotted en route there last week.
The first nine-carriage train came off the Siemens Mobility production line in Vienna at the end of July before being transported to the Test and Validation Centre by rail, sparking a load of trainspotter photos of the unusual sight of a London Underground train in mainland Europe.
Now that it has arrived at the test centre in Germany, the train will be put through rigorous tests including acceleration and braking functionality, noise and vibration trials, as well as testing all the equipment onboard, both hardware and software, and functional tests of the interfaces the train will have with off-train equipment.
This is the type-testing to ensure that the design works as expected. Future trains that are built will still get fault-testing, but won’t need the intensive prototype testing that the first few trains will need to go through.
Although this first train was built at the Vienna factory, about half the trains will be built in the UK, and work to complete Siemens Mobility’s new site in Goole, Yorkshire is near completion. Full production of the new trains in the UK should start next year.
Sambit Banerjee, Managing Director for Rolling Stock and Customer Services for Siemens Mobility UKI, said: “The first new Piccadilly line train is now at our world class testing facility in Germany where it will undergo a period of extensive testing. This is the first stage of testing before London Underground’s newest train reaches the UK for further testing and integration in late 2024. I am incredibly proud to see this first train continue its journey towards enhancing passenger experience and transforming rail travel on the Piccadilly line.”
The new trains are due to start entering passenger service in London from 2025, replacing the existing fleet dating from the 1970s.
Stuart Harvey, TfL’s Chief Capital Officer, said: “We hope to follow the introduction of these new trains to the Piccadilly line by doing the same on the Bakerloo line, replacing the 51-year-old trains that it currently operates, and then by introducing new signalling across the Deep Tube lines to realise the full benefits of the new trains. However, such large-scale investment will not be possible without continued capital investment from the Government from April 2024. We will continue to work with the Government to make the case for long term investment in London to make it an even better, greener, safer and more successful place for everyone.”
The Piccadilly line trains are based on Siemens Mobility’s Inspiro family and will increase capacity by around 10 per cent and are also significantly lighter than existing designs which will mean the trains are more energy efficient as well as providing a smoother ride for passengers. The lighter weight is due to the innovative articulated design which requires fewer bogies (the structure containing the wheels, motors and suspension to support and power the train).
There is also a – currently on hold – plan to upgrade the signalling system on the Piccadilly line, which would increase capacity from 27 to 36 trains per hour.
The new trains also have the theoretical ability to be upgraded at a later date to driverless operation, but that would at a minimum require a huge amount of upgrades to the stations first.