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Next-gen tube trains boast air-con, higher capacity, and real-time info screens

The next generation of Piccadilly Line trains will feature air conditioning, real-time information screens and higher passenger capacity, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

Developed in partnership with Siemens, the new trains will replace the Piccadilly Line’s ageing fleet which were first introduced in the 1970s.

The trains are expected to come into service by 2025 and will use an articulated design that helps to boost passenger capacity by 10 per cent, as well reducing the number of ‘bogies’ located underneath train carriages that house the wheels, motors and suspension.

Siemens said that by taking out some of the bogies, which are the heaviest part of the trains, they can improve energy efficiency by 20 per cent as well as cause less wear and tear on the tracks.

The new trains have been designed with sustainability in mind, they are 95 per cent recoverable and also offer regenerative braking capability, cutting-edge traction systems and LED lighting throughout.

Real-time information screens will inform passengers about the status of the network and the next stop.

The Piccadilly Line is one of the hottest on the tube network, with TfL reporting that temperatures soared to an unbearable 27°C in the summer of 2017. The new carriages will be the first to offer air conditioning on the London Underground deep-level lines.

Speaking at the unveiling, Andy Lord, London Underground’s managing director, said that the intention was to eventually introduce the same trains on the Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo and City lines.

“94 of these trains will soon be in production to replace the existing fleet which were built and entered service in the early 1970s,” he said. “At the time, I'm sure nobody could have imagined them continuing to serve London until well into the 2020s.”

“Despite being maintained by an incredibly professional and dedicated team, the trains currently running on the Piccadilly line have become more unreliable, and expensive to maintain, which isn't surprising given they are nearly 50 years old. That's why these new trains are so desperately needed.”

“These new trains will be more reliable, and have 10 per cent more capacity, plus walk-through trains are more spacious, which is great news for accessibility. These new designs really are state of the art, they a huge improvement on what we have at the moment, a train to see the Piccadilly line into the future.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the new trains were “a key part” of his modernisation strategy for the Underground.

“But we need investment to continue this work,” he warned. “I will keep lobbying the government to deliver a long-term, viable funding model for TfL, which would enable us to carry out more upgrades to the network’s ageing infrastructure, boost our economy and deliver a green recovery for London and the wider country.”

In January, TfL admitted that it would need years of extra funding from central government to stay afloat due to the massive reduction in passengers travelling on the network as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, the number of rail journeys fell to levels not seen since the Victorian era as passengers were warned to only travel when strictly necessary and many people moved to home working.

As part of its Financial Sustainability Plan, which it is currently discussing with the government, TfL is requesting £1.6bn in capital funding per year between 2023 and 2030 that will help it become less reliant on fares income.

Half of the new Piccadilly Line trains will be built in Goole in East Yorkshire in Siemens’ new rail manufacturing facility, in a move that it says will create “thousands of jobs”.

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