This morning, Boris Johnson, TfL chief Peter Hendy, and their respective entourages shlepped up Wembley-way to officially launch the first of the new S-stock trains on the Metropolitan line.
The trains, which were on public display, at Euston a couple of years ago, are replacing the aged A-stock carriages that have made the trip from Amersham to Aldgate since the 1950s. The big selling point is that they're the first Tube trains to be air-conditioned throughout — a rare bit of good news in that area, as the funding for cooling the Underground was slashed this year. They also sport linked walk-through carriages, much like on the new Overground line. Though there is a significant reduction in seating per train (306 compared to 448 on the existing service), there will be a 25% increase in total capacity, with more room for standing.
Fans of Tube nostalgia may be pleased to learn that, several years after they were disabled on other lines, door buttons are returning to the Underground; while the driver will open all the doors at each station, they'll close if the train needs to remain at the platform for any length of time, to keep the cool or warm air in; arriving passengers will need to press the button to re-open the door.
Though this morning marked the official launch, in fact the train snuck into service on Saturday; Julian Gajewski got some great pics. However, Boris is nothing if he's not a showman, and a Monday morning press conference, the weekend after a mostly successful cycle hire launch, gives him ample opportunity to once again burnish his public transport credentials. If the past few days have been, as some suggest, the highlight of his mayoralty thus far, it'd be a great time to announce his candidacy for 2012 — something he's flirted with but not yet committed to.
The new trains will be gradually introduced on the Metropolitan line throughout 2010, before the Circle, District, and Hammersmith & City get them over the next five years; the fleet will comprise 191 new trains in total
Here's a walk-through video of (almost) the entire length of the train (excuse the shoddy camerawork, Steadicams don't come cheap):