Yesterday Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi and Siemens were invited to tender their bids to build 250 new trains for the Piccadilly, Waterloo & City, Bakerloo and Central Lines for delivery in the early 2020s. You would have thought that a step closer to the arrival of Boris’s much publicised “New Train for London” would have had LUL’s media team pulling out all the stops but it seems to have gone completely unnoticed apart from a couple of mentions in the railway press (and the Derby Telegraph). Maybe the Standard etc. were far more interested in doors opening between stations on the Piccadilly.
The announcement is pretty much the same as last time; faster, more frequent, air cooled (hopefully better than Boris’s air cooled buses) with walk through carriages but as with the advert for part time TOps there is a link for FAQs which sheds a little more light on perhaps why this announcement has been allowed to slip under the radar. As before it says that when the trains first arrive they will operate with the existing signal system – ATP for the Central, coloured light signals and trip cocks for the others – until all the old stock is replaced and the new control signalling systems has been installed. It also repeats the earlier statement by one of the Browns that once all the old stock has been replaced and the new signal system is working they will be driven under ATO with a TOp in the cab until PEDs can be fitted which won’t be until the 2030s.
What is new is that the Bakerloo will not be getting PEDs “due to interoperation of services with national rail at the northern end of the line”. If PEDs are essential for driverless operation then unless London Overground forsakes the line between Euston and Watford Junction the Bakerloo will need someone in the cab and the assumption is that the same holds for the Richmond branch of the District.
The FAQs also reveal that the reason the four lines currently operating with ATO can’t go driverless is simply that they would need significant upgrades along with PED doors. Whether the ATO signalling system Thales are working on for the Sub Surface Lines will support driverless operation isn't mentioned but even if it does the District would still need TOps for the Network Rail bit. They admit they are still considering just how driverless trains would be staffed but I wouldn't imagine a DLR-type person is going to be a lot of use stood in the middle of a train at 08:30 on a Monday morning in Zone 1.
Back in 2012 when Boris was running for mayor he gave the impression that driverless trains on the Tube were just around the corner, perhaps the lack of fanfare is to save him from having to explain that its going to take longer than he led the public to believe and that some lines cannot go driverless.
Meanwhile on the Night Tube front Unite has called off their strikes but TSSA has said they will join ASLEF and RMT. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.....