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Have a look contained in the Piccadilly line’s new air conditioned trains

Have a look contained in the Piccadilly line’s new air conditioned trains

2023-11-21 06:07:46

A railway working by means of the forests of west Germany is seeing a really uncommon sight in the meanwhile – as a Piccadilly line tube practice is working by means of the realm.

What’s a Piccadilly line practice doing in Germany?

It’s the primary of 94 new Piccadilly line trains which might be carrying passengers in 2025, however earlier than that, they want intensive testing earlier than arriving in London, and Siemens Mobility owns one of many world’s largest practice testing centres, constructed on a former RAF base in west Germany.

The brand new trains are very completely different to those they are going to substitute, with a brand new light-weight design and loads of inner enhancements. The change that most individuals might be enthusiastic about although is that it’ll even be the primary deep stage trains to come back with air con.

To suit air con into the trains has been a problem, and one which’s much more seen than it may appear at first look.

Formally referred to as the New Tube for London, the primary trains have been ordered for the Piccadilly line, with the intention that, funding allowing, modified variations may even be used on the Bakerloo and Central traces sooner or later.

The rationale London wants new trains is that whereas the common age of mainline trains within the UK is simply 17 years, the Piccadilly line trains are 48 years previous, and the Bakerloo line trains are even older, having hit their half-century final yr. There’s a necessity to switch the trains as reliability declines and upkeep prices improve, so in 2018, Siemens Mobility gained the contract to provide as much as 250 new trains.

An preliminary 94 trains are on order, with choices to purchase extra sooner or later. The primary batches are being constructed by Siemens of their Austria manufacturing unit, however manufacturing will quickly change to a brand new manufacturing unit at Goole in Yorkshire, the place the vast majority of the trains might be constructed.

There have been quite a lot of adjustments in mainline practice expertise over current a long time, however the problem that was identified was how one can match as lots of these enhancements right into a small tube practice. What Siemens has developed is a totally walkthrough practice that may carry about 10 % extra folks than the present trains, with wider doorways, improved data screens and most importantly, air con.

To nip one argument within the bud, the trains will use vapour-compression refrigeration with temperature management however with out the humidity management that’s sometimes supplied in buildings. Strictly talking that is an “air cooling” system, nonetheless this kind of system is extensively known as an “air con” system when referring to trains and different cell purposes similar to vehicles. And lets be trustworthy, everybody goes to name it air con anyway, so lets not get hung up on technicalities.

The primary downside with placing air conditioning in the deep tunnel trains is the shortage of wherever for the warmth to go – because the tunnels themselves can’t soak up the warmth expelled from the trains.

The answer has taken benefit of an revolutionary practice design, decreasing the warmth they emit from the engines and brakes. Cooler working trains may assist to chill the tunnels, however it will take a long time to note the distinction, or they’ll use that temperature hole between the brand new and previous trains to place air con contained in the carriages in the present day.

In impact, the brand new trains, with air con, will run at about the identical temperature because the previous trains — however might be significantly extra comfy for passengers.

If a future plan to run much more trains by means of the tunnels goes forward, that can require elevated cooling within the stations, which, funding allowing, is being developed in the meanwhile.

To suit air con into the trains has been reasonably an fascinating problem, as air con items are giant and tube trains are small, and Siemens Mobility has taken a number of concepts and put them collectively to create the area wanted. Probably the most noticeable, for practice geeks no less than, is the design of the bogies beneath the trains — the wheels, which have been decreased due to the usage of walk-through articulated practice carriages.

Tall folks may even discover a distinction, as they’ve managed to squeeze out a couple of extra inches in top contained in the carriages, which was noticeable even to this 6ft tall individual.

Fewer bogies imply much less weight and fewer vitality wanted to maneuver the practice and a bit extra space beneath the practice for further tools. The air con items themselves slot in beneath the seats, the place you would possibly discover the air consumption vents with a recessed tube roundel within the center.

Essentially the most important visible change although is within the home windows, as Siemens wanted extra vertical area for cabling and ducts than could possibly be squeezed in beside the door frames. That’s why as an alternative of two giant home windows, there are three smaller home windows — because the gaps between the home windows carry cables and likewise the cooled air as much as the ceiling.

The marginally smaller home windows don’t make the trains darker although, because the trains are fitted with fashionable LED lights, together with some very fetching art-deco impressed mild rings above the gangway poles.

One other design change is the moquette.

A model new moquette, known as Holden, after the legendary architect Charles Holden, which incorporates a number of nods to Picadilly line heritage, most noticeably the design of Southgate station in north London.

You’ll have the ability to sit on the Holden moquette seat in an air conditioned practice in 2025.

However earlier than that, the trains have to be licensed to be used, which requires quite a lot of testing, and that’s why there’s a Piccadilly line practice in Germany in the meanwhile.

It’s on the former British army base, RAF Wildenrath, which closed on the finish of the Chilly Struggle, and is now the Wegberg-Wildenrath Test and Validation Centre utilized by Siemens to place trains by means of their paces. After an hour’s drive from Dusseldorf and down an not noticeable street, you will discover your self driving previous rows upon rows of mainland Europe sized trains introduced right here for testing.

Thameslink trains have been additionally examined right here, together with a number of different liveries acquainted to British eyes, and now, dwarfed by its greater European brothers, is a Piccadilly line practice.

To indicate off what the brand new practice seems like, Siemens Mobility invited rail journalists to have a trip, so though largely full of take a look at tools, one carriage was fitted out for guests to see what the brand new trains feel and look wish to trip in.

The inside seems very very similar to the ultimate trains, though there are nonetheless a couple of modest tweaks to the design anticipated as London Underground workers discover snagging points or ask for adjustments based mostly on experiences of how Londoners behave in trains. Nonetheless, as most of these might be imperceptible to the common individual, what we’re seeing in the present day is 99.9% of what the travelling public will see in 2025.

The seats will in all probability get quite a lot of feedback when the trains come into service as they’re very completely different from the prevailing Piccadilly line trains. The brand new seats could be described as nearer to the DLR in padding, whereas the prevailing seats at the moment are so saggy after a long time of use that they really feel like they’re lacking half their springs. So although the brand new seat padding ranges are in use on a great deal of different London trains, I’d count on a little bit of a response when the trains come into service. Personally, I want the brand new seats.

Alongside the inner digital show screens, exterior shows between the doorways will present the practice vacation spot and different useful data.

Whereas the guests have been within the entrance carriage getting cab rides by means of the German countryside, engineers have been nonetheless at work in the remainder of the practice monitoring their take a look at tools and sensors. The assessments intention to show that the trains run as anticipated, show reliability and iron out any bugs earlier than they go into full manufacturing in Yorkshire.

As soon as the practice has been licensed, it then has to come back to London, the place it will likely be used for in depth assessments on the dwell Picadilly line and construct up the mileage to get UK authorisation to hold passengers. The practice is predicted to reach subsequent summer time, when you’ll begin to see it out and about on the Piccadilly line – initially in a single day and through engineering closures, however later through the daytime.

Solely then can it begin to carry passengers – in early 2025.

Because the trains have a lot wider doorways than the present trains, they’ll spend much less time in stations choosing up and dropping off passengers, and with 94 new trains changing 86 previous trains, TfL expects that to allow them to extend peak functionality on the Piccadilly line from 24 to 27 trains per hour from 2027.

Nonetheless, that’s solely the start.

Together with the ten per cent extra area contained in the trains and extra trains per hour, the web impact is a capability improve of round 1 / 4 on the Piccadilly line in comparison with in the present day. There may be additionally a — at present on maintain — plan to improve the signalling system on the Piccadilly line, rising capability from 27 to 36 trains per hour.

Whereas the Piccadilly line trains are heading to London, there’s an possibility to switch the trains on the Bakerloo and Central traces, however that possibility expires in late 2026, and TfL needs to be able to put the order by then in any other case the choice lapses and would have to be renegotiated, probably at the next value.

Corporations like choices in contracts as they provide each patrons and sellers assurance about their intentions and help funding by each events.

Talking on the trials final week, Stuart Harvey, TfL’s Chief Capital Officer, confirmed that discussions are nonetheless ongoing about long run funding to switch the Bakerloo line trains, which at the moment are the oldest electrical passenger trains in service within the UK.

See Also

Though the choice to purchase the trains could possibly be taken in 2026, realistically, it must be sooner.

When shopping for new trains, you don’t simply order trains, and that’s it — over the previous 50 years for the reason that Bakerloo traces have been launched, the technological enhancements in rolling inventory imply that fifty yr previous monitor tools can’t provide the advantages wanted. In order that wants changing, and so they’re prone to want a brand new depot to retailer the additional trains, and all that takes years to rearrange.

The important thing message from each TfL and Siemens is {that a} resolution on the Bakerloo line is required pretty quickly. Even when taken instantly, it’s fairly doable that individuals born when the Bakerloo line trains have been launched may have retired from work earlier than the primary of the brand new trains arrives. Which is an heck of a very long time to maintain trains in use.

Within the meantime, as we headed dwelling, the Siemens engineers continued their assessments and a Piccadilly line practice resumed its loops by means of the German forest.

Sambit Banerjee, Joint CEO for Siemens Mobility UKI and Stuart Harvey, TfL’s Chief Capital Officer

An uncommon view from the entrance of a Piccadilly line practice

Inside the brand new trains

Seating above air con vents

The practice in take a look at mode within the German countryside.

Shut up of the moquette

The drivers cab

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