The final design and some of the engineering challenges for a new fleet of London Underground tube trains have been shown off by the manufacturer.

Externally not much has changed from early concepts, but there’s been a refinement of the interior, and more details announced about how they will operate.

(c) Siemens Mobility

Siemens was awarded the £1.5 billion contract to build 94 new trains in 2018, to replace the ageing, and increasingly expensive to maintain Piccadilly line trains which have been in service since the 1970s.

Half the trains are being built at Siemens existing factory in Vienna, but the other half are to be built in Goole, East Yorkshire, where Siemens is building a new factory and research centre.

There are two sides to any new train project, the passenger and the operator.

The passenger wants a bigger more comfortable train, and the operator wants one that’s cheaper and easier to maintain.

For passengers, the new train will be fully walkthrough from end to end, will come with the world’s first deep-level tunnel air conditioning system, and live in-tunnel information screens about transport services. The outside of the trains will also include digital displays with the destination on them. The new trains should also offer a smoother ride.

Wider doors are more accessible, but also means people can get on and off quicker so that, on average, trains spend less time in the station. Less time stopped at stations means slightly faster journeys.

For comparison, the current trains have double doors of 137cm wide and single doors at the carriage ends that are 68cm wide. The new train’s doors will all be 169cm wide.

With a larger footprint inside, they will be able to carry 10% more people, and with the shorter dwell time in stations, the Piccadilly line will be able to fit an extra three trains per hour in the rush hour, giving the Piccadilly line nearly a quarter more capacity from 2027.

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 first trains are due to arrive in passenger service in 2025.

Original concept – 2018

FInal design – 2021

From the operator’s perspective, a lot of work between TfL’s engineers and Siemens has resulted in some interesting innovations.

One of the heaviest parts of any train are the bogies underneath the carriage which houses the wheels, brakes and motors. The new trains, because they’re multi-articulated to support walkthrough carriages can also use fewer bogies underneath. Reducing the weight reduces how much energy is needed to move the train – by some 20% overall. It also reduces wear and tear on the tracks themselves, so less maintenance is needed.

That means fewer weekend closures of the Piccadilly line.

The new trains will also include regenerative braking, a method of returning energy normally lost as heat in the tunnels back into electricity, so less heat and lower running costs. They also include a new traction system using low-loss permanent magnet motors and auxiliary electric systems.

The trains are also expected to be easier to maintain than current designs, and with sensors throughout the train’s equipment, they should be able to predict when components are likely to fail, and proactively maintain them to reduce train failures when in service.

TfL is having to work on upgrading its maintenance depot at Northfields to support the new trains, and that work is underway at the moment.

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.

But in the short term, the Goole factory contracts are being awarded, the first assembly staff being trained, and the first trains should be delivered in 2024 for testing by TfL.

Passengers can expect to try them out from 2025.

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32 comments
  1. Dave says:

    I’m still fascinated to know how the air conditioning will work. We’ve been told countless times that the deep level tunnels are too small and with not enough ventilation to handle the hot exhaust from air con. They describe their implementation as ‘innovative’ so they must have some tricks up their sleeve. Maybe it only runs above ground but can continue to work underground for a short while?

    • Rational plan says:

      Much more efficient electric motors produce much less heat, and therefore leaves room for heat from air conditioning.

    • Calvin Barrows says:

      There has been so much contradiction with regards to the Cooling the Tube Project in the last 15 years, and the subject of AC on trains running on the Deep Tube Lines is just one of them!

      LU/TfL’s cooling team, their consultants and academic advisers have always claimed that installing AC on the Deep Tube was not feasible because it would only serve to increase the heat load in the tunnel – and I agree. How then can they possible be specifying AC on these new deep tube line trains whilst not telling us how they are going to overcome that problem – the truth is that they are not going to overcome that problem, and they know it. This appears a “political” move to keep the travelling public excited about the possibility of a solution and, once more, when 2025 has arrived and gone, they will be sorely disappointed!

      All the LU/TfL’s cooling team, their consultants and academic advisers have recognised the seasonal nature of the problem and most of the press reports have also alluded to it, but no one has asked the questions: “why should this be?” and “what is the mechanism that is causing it?”

      Andy Lord has known the answers since Christmas Eve 2019, but so far does not appear to have taken any action to deal these questions!

  2. Melvyn says:

    Much talk about driverless operation has been made especially by former Mayor Boris Johnson so now he is Prime Minister then surely he should make funding available for extra trains and equipment to make the small Waterloo and City line equipped for driverless operation to prove its viability on what is a two station shuttle service!

    Given the age of the trains on the Bakerloo Line then an order for repel of Bakerloo trains needs to be funded with them taking priority over Central Line replacement given how the Elizabeth Line will relieve congestion on the Central
    Line .

    • Graham says:

      Central line trains probably won’t be replaced for another good few years as they only came into service in 1992. The Bakerloo line I agree needs new trains desperately. They are really old and make a right old racket. I’m interested to see if these new trains will also incorporate wifi at some point. I know some of the overground trains have wifi. I would have thought some of the underground trains would have incorporated that by now.

  3. Ali says:

    If these trains aren’t going to enter service by 2025 I wonder when the central line or even the bakerloo line will get new trains – by 2025 the 1972 stock would be 53 years old and well overdue for a replacement

  4. Dan Coleman says:

    Can’t say I’m a fan of the revised interior. It looks a little bit sterile compared to the original mockup from 2018. I was hoping they’d chance a much more modern and unique design.

  5. Kai Chung says:

    I notice that the Piccadilly Line Blue Handrails gives very Relaxing Appearance to the interior in conjunction with the Dove Grey and Charcoal Grey Flooring as also used in the existing (refurbished) Piccadilly Line trains. Somehow I also see a slight resemblence to the 2009 tube stock windows as used on the Victoria Line.

    • Seth says:

      I agree the blue is very calming and pleasant. I also think the 2021 renderings are superior to the 2018 ones – less over design, cleaner and more aesthetic.

  6. Michael Hill says:

    I agree with Dan, the 2018 mockup looks more modern than the latest design.

  7. GS says:

    Does this design protect passenger s from viruses like coronavirus?
    When will the management of the tubes start incorporating the protection of passengers from coronavirus in the internal layout and seatings of the tubes?

    • Julian says:

      It’s not the job of train designers to protect us from viruses. It’s our own job – get our jabs, wear masks when there are outbreaks of respiratory diseases, wash properly, don’t travel when unwell.

    • ChrisC says:

      What specific protection(s) would you suggest be included?

    • Seth says:

      Great point: HEPA filters and UV light air treatment? Seems insane not to include in the next stock – the cost of keeping people away from the tube is far higher.

  8. Nouri says:

    There’s one simplest of changes in the design that would make a lot of passengers happier. Make the central handrail by the doors a three-in-one thing! Check out the Brussels tube trains design. Trying to find a palm-wide space on that one pole can be tricky during peak time, and the overhead handrails is not an easy reach for everyone.

  9. James Whiteley says:

    I also much preferred the 2018 design, which was both ultra modern and a tribute to the classic red tube trains of the past. The new design just looks like Victoria line stock which in turn look a bit like the 1996 stock on the Jubilee line. A lost opportunity for a beautiful and unique design.

  10. Nathan says:

    If you look on the image inside the carriage – you can see a Piccadilly line map that includes the dotted Overground walking links (is this new?)

  11. martain says:

    On a crowded peak hour train, many standing passengers won’t have anything to hold on to.

  12. Andrew Gwilt says:

    It feels like the Bakerloo Line has been ignored. Poor Bakerloo Line.

  13. Kai Chung says:

    That is the point – the interior of the new trains is meant to carry over some design features of the existing highly successful tube trains as originally delivered around 1995/1996 time, including the Piccadilly Line Theme Grab Poles and Relaxing Floor Coverings Designs. The front cab end clearly shows its 1995/1996 tube stock ancestry in the design. Even Passenger Door Opening Buttons have been resurrected on the new trains.

  14. Colin Newman says:

    This article https://www.railjournal.com/in_depth/cooling-the-tube suggests that much of the heat in trains is picked up when they are outside the tunnels in summer. The writer suggests shaded stabling and solar reflective coatings on trains to reduce this.

    • ianVisits says:

      That theory has also been rejected by most people who have looked at the issue – the idea is being promoted by a one-man obsessive who isn’t involved in the industry.

    • 100andthirty says:

      Hmmm. personally I never accepted that as THE key issue. Clearly it’s part of the equation, but Victoria line isn’t significantly cooler than, say, Central line, and the former is entirely in tunnel with the exception of the depot link. That said, I’m not suggesting that solar control measures should be ignored, as they will help the air conditioning to perform in the open.

  15. Chris Rogers says:

    Wider doors etc means fewer seats I assume?

    • ianVisits says:

      268 seats in the new train vs 228 seats in the current trains – net gain of 40 more seats.

      At 5 passengers/m2, the new train has capacity for 808 people standing, vs 570 people in the old train – an increase of 238 people per train.

      Combined seating and standing = capacity for an 278 extra people per train.

  16. John Wood says:

    Umm what about luggage racks for those travelling to and from Heathrow?

    • ianVisits says:

      Not enough space above your head on tube trains for luggage racks – never been a problem before either.

    • ChrisC says:

      Given that most people seem to have problems lugging a heavy case a couple of inches on / off the train I don’t see many being able to lift a case more than 6 ft into the air and get it down again without decapitating some poor commuter.

      And a luggage rack would effectivly reduce the head space in the carriage.

  17. Mohammed Chaudhri says:

    If the Central Line will be planned to get these new trains in the 2030s, why not introduce them onto the Bakerloo Line after they all enter service on the Piccadilly Line in like 2027/28. That line has the oldest rolling stock in the country and is more urgent for replacement than the 1992 Stock, in terms of age than temperature. If there isn’t enough money to order them in time, then I couldn’t imagine how the 1972 Stock would perform at nearly 60 years old.

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