London Underground has launched the procurement process for 250 ‘next generation’ Tube trains for the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines.
The trains will be “capable of full automation” meaning they could operate without a traditional driver, feature walk-through carriages as already seen on the London Overground and Metropolitan line and air-cooling.
LU claims the trains will enable “more frequent and reliable services”, allowing it to meet rising demand while making journeys more comfortable for passengers.
A notice has been placed in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) seeking expressions of interest and a formal Invitation to Tender is expected to be issued next year.
Announcing the start of the tender process, 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.”
Tube Managing Director Mike Brown MVO said: “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 introduction of driverless trains is opposed by both the Aslef and RMT unions which represent Tube drivers. The unions claim the trains would jeopardise passenger safety.
However Richard Tracey, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, dismissed safety concerns.
Mr Tracey said: “Londoners are already safely and happily riding on driverless trains on the DLR. If they’re good enough for Paris, and Copenhagen, and Vancouver, and Barcelona, and Sao Paulo, why can’t they be expanded in our Capital?
“Accelerating driverless trains on the underground would cut the huge £141M annual tube driver wage bill. Ultimately this will help bear down on fares for Londoners and pay for vital progress like 24 hour trains and flexible ticketing.”