Those Futuristic Piccadilly Line Tube Trains: An Update

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 21 months ago

Last Updated 20 September 2022

Those Futuristic Piccadilly Line Tube Trains: An Update
A mock up frontage of the new tube train
Calling all stations from Goole to Cockfosters. Image: TfL

Back in 2018, TfL teased us with CGI mock-ups of a futuristic-looking tube train, dubbed the 'New Tube for London'. Four years on, where exactly have we got to with them?

Remind me about the 'New Tube for London' again?

The 'New Tube for London' (NTFL) is the name for the 'Inspiro London' stock, designed by Siemens Mobility Ltd. 94 trains have been commissioned for use on the Piccadilly line, which is currently still using tube stock from 1973. (There are only so many times you can give these things a fresh lick of paint.)

a cgi mockn up of the interior of the new trains, with new moquette
Oh HELLO new moquette design. Image: TfL

What's so special about these new tube trains then?

Let's bullet point this one:

  • 10% more capacity than the current Piccadilly stock
  • Better accessibility, for instance wider doors and walk-through carriages
  • Air conditioning and LED lighting throughout
  • Reduced energy consumption and various other eco-friendly touches
  • Did we mention they look all nice and futuristic and stuff?

And any news on the moquette?

Yes! New mock-ups of the train hinted at a brand new moquette design. And then Geoff Marshall went to see it in the flesh (see video above). The moquette's similar to Barman in colour and concept... BUT features different London landmarks, including — and this is wonderful — the Piccadilly line's flying saucer-esque Southgate station. We then asked TfL about the moquette and it revealed that ALL of the landmarks that feature on the pattern reference the works of the great Charles Holden (we can also spot some typical Holden-style windows). The moquette is, naturally, called 'Holden'.

So these new trains are just for the Piccadilly line?

The Mayor of London and TfL have signed a deal with Siemens for an initial 94 trains to be built for the Piccadilly line. BUT assuming everything goes to plan, they'll want NTFL stock on other deep-level lines: Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City.

A CGI mock up of the new stock calling into a station
They're on their way - just a tad behind schedule. Image: TfL

Where are these trains being built?

50% of the initial 94 trains will be built in a factory in Goole, Yorkshire. Well, they will be once Siemens has finished building the factory. That should be in 2023. At the moment all there is to see in Goole is a mock-up of one of the carriages and a cab of one of the trains (see main image, above). And you'll need a press pass to see them.

Right. So they've not started building the trains yet?

They have actually — the other 50% of the new trains are currently being built at another Siemens factory in Vienna.

Is there nowhere I can see a mock up of these trains closer to home?

Now you mention it, there is — at the Design Museum in Kensington:

Mock up cab for the new tube design, at the Design Museum
Image: Londonist

So are the new Piccadilly line trains actually still on track?

TfL initially said the NTFL stock would be rolled out onto London's transport network from 2024. That date's now been pushed back to 2025. So there's a slight delay. And frankly, would it be a TfL project without one?

But we can look forward to seeing these trains everywhere soon after that, right?

Depends on the money situation. The first 94 trains are costing £1.5 billion, and TfL isn't exactly rolling in it right now. Sadiq Khan has made it clear that TfL needs better funding from the government in order to roll out more of these tube trains across the network. He says: "Under a managed decline scenario, the date for new trains for the Bakerloo and Central line would be pushed back to the late 2030s/early 2040s." Seems the Mayor/TfL are going through a phase of teasing Londoners with what the future of transport could look like, then following it up with: "But only if the Tories give us more cash." Like they did with the recent new electric bus design.