Transport for London advertises £16 billion contract for a fleet of new driverless trains

London Underground (LU) has today announced it is looking for a supplier to build what it calls the ‘New Tube for London’a next generation of deep-level, energy efficient, walk-through and air-cooled Tube trains – capable of full automation.

The new trains are intended to enable more frequent and reliable services, so boosting capacity and making journeys better and more comfortable for customers.

The New Tube for London will operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. The planned 250 new trains will include air-cooling for the first time on deep-level sections of the Tube, a long standing challenge to passenger comfort during the summer.

Expressions of Interest sought for a tender next year

LU said will place a notice today with the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) seeking expressions of interest to build the new trains. A formal Invitation to Tender is expected to be issued in early 2015.

Alongside new modern signalling systems, the new trains will help LU meet the challenge of London’s growing population – set to increase from 8.4 million today to around 10m by 2030 – by increasing capacity on:

  • the Central line by 25%;

  • the Bakerloo line by 25%;

  • the Waterloo & City line by 50%; and,

  • the Piccadilly line by 60%.

More comfortable, frequent and reliable

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This vital modernisation of our trains and signalling will ensure an even more comfortable, frequent and reliable service for hardworking commuters and visitors to the capital.”

“Much like our Victorian forebears, we will make what was once thought impossible possible when 250 brand-new, air-cooled, walk-through trains are introduced to the network.”

“This is a hugely important step in the continued evolution of our world-famous Tube and one that will see an iconic new fleet of trains to keep London and its economy moving.”

Drastically improved capacity

Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground said, “Alongside modern signalling, these new trains will modernise and drastically improve capacity on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines, allowing us to run more frequent and reliable trains, faster and closer together.”

“Working with the rail industry, we want the New Tube for London to encompass the very latest technology as well as respecting our design heritage.”

“Our new trains will be energy efficient, walk-through and provide air-cooling for the first time on the deep level lines, which are unique to London.”

The New Tube for London programme will see approximately:

  • 100 trains for the Piccadilly line;

  • 100 trains for the Central line;

  • 40 trains for the Bakerloo line;

  • 10 trains for the Waterloo & City line.

Further details on the New Tube for London and deep-level Tube modernisation programme can be found in a paper considered by the Transport for London Board at its February 5 meeting.

Union anger over driverless Tube train plans

According to BBC reports, rail unions have vowed to “go to war” over the plans to introduce driverless trains on the Underground.

Today’s announcement came, to the day, two years after London mayor Boris Johnson pledged to introduce driverless trains on the network to lower costs – and reduce the likelihood of train driver action affecting services.

Five grades of Automatic Train Operation

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) uses driverless trains. Automatic Tube trains also run on the Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines, but are still manned by drivers.

Automatic Train Operation (ATO) is an operational safety enhancement device used to help automate operations of trains, more often used on automated guideway transits and subways which are easier to ensure passenger safety.

According to the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), there are five Grades of Automation (GoA) for trains: from GoA 0 for on-sight train operation, similar to a tram running in street traffic; GoA 1 manual train operation where a train driver controls starting and stopping, operation of doors and handling of emergencies or sudden diversions; GoA 2 semi-automatic train operation (STO) where starting and stopping are automated but a driver in the cab starts the train, operates the doors, drives the train if needed and handles emergencies; GoA 3 is driverless train operation (DTO) where starting and stopping are automated but a train attendant operates the doors and drives the train in case of emergencies.

GoA 4 is unattended train operation (UTO) where starting and stopping, operation of doors and handling of emergencies are fully automated without any on-train staff.

UITP have stated that the first unattended train lines date from 1981 and is now widespread solution – with 25 cities opting for automated metros by 2011.

UITP operates The Observatory of Automated Metros to promote and share knowledge about automated metro lines.

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