London’s subway operator has unveiled the design of its next-generation tube train, part of ongoing modernisation work costing in the region of $26 billion.
The futuristic design features spacious, walk-through cars with air-cooling systems, digital screens showing live travel updates, and wider doors for more efficient passenger movement at station stops.
“Natural finishes and materials in a palette of colours including charcoal, warm gray and oxblood were derived from looking at heritage and contemporary architecture and landmarks in London,” train designer PriestmanGoode said on a webpage showing off the new design.
Faster and more reliable than the current trains, the new rolling stock will enable an increase in hourly passenger capacity of up to 60 percent on some lines – vital in a city where the population is expected to grow from 8.4 million today to 10 million by 2030.
Making all the headlines, however, is the train’s ability to operate without a driver. This is something London mayor Boris Johnson has been talking about for some time, though Transport for London, which runs the network, reassured current drivers their jobs would not be in jeopardy.
“When the trains first enter service, they will have an operator on board,” Transport for London said on a website announcing the new train design. “We would only consider implementing full automation following extensive engagement with our customers, stakeholders, staff and trade unions.”
Speaking recently at a special event unveiling the new design, PriestmanGoode director Paul Priestman said the new subway cars “celebrate the great history of transport design in London, whilst acting as a beacon of innovative 21st century public transport.”
He added, “We took inspiration from iconic London landmarks and key attributes of British design to create a tube that is beautiful, simple, functional and maintainable.”
The new trains are expected to hit the tracks in around 2022.