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Who are the contenders for the huge new London Underground contract?

Posted by Luke Upton on Jan 20, 2016

ntfl-exterior-platformAs part on the ongoing race to keep pace with London's rapidly growing population, London Underground (LU) are commissioning a 'New Tube' with modern signalling systems and new trains to significantly increase capacity. Around two-thirds of London’s lines are being or will be upgraded and a blueprint for a single train design that will be rolled out across the deep-level Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines is being sought, allowing for more efficient procurement and long-term maintenance procedures. As a result around 250 new trains will be purchased. LU began seeking expressions of interest to design and build the new trains in February 2014 and this list is now down to five industry conteners. So who is in the running to secure this contract estimated to be worth between £1bn and £2.5bn?

In issuing an Invitation to Tender (ITT) to five of the companies seeking to work with LU the New Tube took a significant step forward. And the five now pre-qualified manufacturers - Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi and Siemens - can now proceed to the next stage of the formal procurement process with LU over the design and build of the next generation of Underground trains, which will come into service from the early 2020s. The bidding parties will need to return their proposals to LU in summer 2016 with the contract to build the new trains awarded in autumn 2017.

The New Tube will mean faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys for customers travelling on the deep-level lines. 2015 was a year of broken records for London Underground serving 4.821 million passengers on Friday 4th December 2015 making it the network's busiest day in its 152 year history. And the new trains will offer greater capacity and more comfortable journeys, and the first air-cooled trains on the deep-level sections of the Tube. In addition, the new trains will feature improved accessibility and safety features including walk-through carriages and wider doors.

SmartRail Europe 2016

The building of the 250 new trains, which will feature internal styling that echoes the Underground's heritage, will also help to support new jobs and growth elsewhere in the UK. They will be designed and built to be 'future-proofed', which will include the capability for fully automatic operation, given that the New Tube will serve London for around 50 years. 

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, on this announcement: “Over the last few years we have seen the completion of several major signalling upgrades on the Tube, as well as the delivery of 191 brand new air-conditioned walk-through trains. But it is clear that London must have continued investment in its Tube network if it is to continue to flourish, and that is why I have argued so hard to protect our capital investment programme. I am delighted that we are now able to launch the process to commission a fleet of new deep-level Tube trains that will transform journeys for the millions of passengers who use our Piccadilly, Waterloo & City, Bakerloo and Central lines.”


Nick Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, also said: “Today's invitation to train manufacturers to submit bids for the design and build of the New Tube is a significant step forward. Londoners have already seen huge improvements to the Tube network, but to meet the needs of our rapidly growing population we must continue to invest in and improve our services. More people are using the Underground than at any point in its 153-year history. The New Tube for London will transform the journeys of millions of customers, providing trains fit for a world city for the next five decades.”

Along with modernised rail signal systems operating alongside them, this number of trains will boost capacity on all four deep-level lines: 

  • 100 trains for the Piccadilly line by 60% (the equivalent of up to 21,000 customers per hour)
  • 10 trains for the Waterloo & City line by 35% (the equivalent of up to 7,000 customers per hour)
  • 40 trains for the Bakerloo line by 25% (the equivalent of up to 9,000 customers per hour)
  • 100 trains for the Central line by 25% (the equivalent of up to 12,000 customers per hour)

Duncan Cross (Deputy Director of Operations, London Overground) is one of a host of expert speakers at SmartRail Europe (Amsterdam, 19-20 April 2016) where innovative metro planning, keeping pace with population growth and future proofing investments are all amongst the key areas of discussion click the button to find out more...  

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Topics: Signalling, Rolling Stock, projects

Luke Upton

Written by Luke Upton

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