Tube Bosses Announce Driverless Train Plan

London Underground's 'Director of Strategy & Service Development' has sent out an internal bulletin to all tube workers detailing a plan for new trains that "will have the capability to be operated with, or without, a train operator at the front of the train." London Underground will pay £3 billion for this new fleet of trains which they plan to introduce from 2020 and "by the end of the 2030s, ultimately be rolled out across the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City Lines."

Recently London Mayor Boris Johnson tweeted that: "we will shortly be unveiling the New Tube for London - a fantastic new driverless design."

The RMT have long campaigned against driverless trains. An RMT Executive decision from November 2013 states:

"We can not wait until driverless trains are designed and ordered before we fight this utterly reckless move. We need to actively oppose the preparations for driverless trains now, and to include this issue in our campaign to defend London Underground jobs.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow on 'Sunday Politics' recently spoke against driverless trains citing safety issues explaining that there could be "absolute panic" on London's Victorian network in a breakdown, and that the RMT would never allow driverless trains to be introduced. "We are not having driverless trains" Crow said, echoing the long held RMT position.

LUL Bulletin on 'New Tube for London'

Date: 19th February, 2014

Issued to: All LU & Rail staff

Update on our future investment programme: procuring the next generation of deep-level trains

Dear Colleague

London Underground continues to invest in world-class equipment and infrastructure to make sure that we can provide the safest, most frequent and reliable services for our customers and to create a modern, innovative place to work for our people.

Soon, we'll ask some of our suppliers to bid for a contract to provide the next generation of deep-level Tube trains, planned to come into service in the 2020s and to serve our customers and London for decades beyond that. We’ll work closely with them to take advantage of their expertise, advancements in technology and proven solutions that will help us to remain world class well into the future. We’ll talk with you – our employees – about how best to make this work. And we also need to engage with customers and stakeholders before we make any decisions about how we’ll develop these trains and how they would be operated to serve customers whilst keeping safety and reliability our main priorities

These new trains will be fully automated like those on the Victoria, Jubilee and Central lines are today, and those on the Northern line will be fully later this year. They will also be the first generation of deep-level Tubes to be walk-through and air-cooled, as we now have on the Met, Circle, H&C and, soon, the District line too – and our market research tells us that customers love this. It makes their journeys more comfortable, less crowded and altogether more pleasant. This is what a modern Tube service is all about.

We have made it clear that we would look to explore all technology options for this new fleet of trains, just as we have been doing for many years – we started talking about automation in the 1960s when the Victoria line became the first automated metro line in the world. We've upgraded our trains and signals to operate with automation many times since then, just like other major global metros.

These trains will have the capability to be operated with, or without, a train operator at the front of the train. Placing a contract with a supplier for these new deep-level Tube trains is just the start, it will take many years to design, build and test these trains before we can bring them into service in the next decade. However, just as Mike Brown promised, if you're a train operator today and you’re prepared to be flexible you will continue to have a job, in the cab of a train, for your entire career at LU.

This new fleet of trains will, by the end of the 2030s, ultimately be rolled out across the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City Lines. They will cost £3billion. The fact that we are trusted to spend and invest such sums of money wisely is a testament to the successful delivery of our capital programme so far, and the quality of the day to day service we deliver. The tax and fare payers expect this of us, hold us to account and we take our responsibility seriously. We can continue to expect media and public interest in our plans. But critically we also want your thoughts and opinions too and we’ll be coming to you and representatives of our trades unions in the next few months to start to do this.

Safety is always our top priority. We don't risk our customers and we don't risk our people. Any upgrade to our services and equipment will always reflect our commitment to safety.

Automation happens in so many metros across the globe today in cities, such as Paris,Sao Paulo and Vancouver, as well as here in London. We must continue to invest in and embrace the latest technology at London Underground, just as we always have, to ensure we build a Tube network fit for the future and London in the 21st Century.

As our plans progress we will keep you updated.


Gareth Powell
Director of Strategy & Service Development, London Underground