London Underground Train Frontage

The Future is here. Image Credit: Core 77

The next type of tube train will be arriving on this platform in six years…

London studio Priestmangoode has unveiled designs for a new generation of London Underground trains, to be rolled out on four Tube Lines by 2020. The new rolling stock could be the first fully automated, driverless trains on the 150-year-old network.

The plans are known as the New Tube Project, which have been in development with TFL for three years. 250 trains will be rolled out across the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo and City underground lines by the start of the next decade.

On first glance the trains look like they’ve been beamed straight from Buck Rogers, with slick, modern lines and LED lights that glow white when the train moves forward and red when in reverse. The lighting continues inside on the doors, changing colour when they are preparing to open or close.

London underground interior

Soon you’ll be able to stroll through Tube carriages unimpeded. Image Credit: Priestmangoode

Inside the carriage

As well as a swanky exterior the traditional carriage interior has also been reworked, replaced with a single carriage that can be walked from end to end, of the type already seen on the London Overground. The trains will be fitted with air conditioning, hopefully calling an end to sweltering conditions.

Each train will be hooked up to wifi. Now whether being able to snapchat your wives/husbands/girlfriends/lovers during rush hour is something to be celebrated is debatable, but it is nevertheless a sign of the underground entering the 21st century. Which like it or not will inevitably include Snapchat, Angry Birds, or selfies.

Traditional paper advertising will be replaced with “dynamic” screens that will be updated with real time travel information and advertising messages. Underground Piccadilly Circus anyone?

London Underground Materials

The designs are inspired by London’s heritage, with generous use of red! Image Credit: Core 77

Design inspiration

The designs take their inspiration from London’s rich heritage and contemporary architecture, utilising charcoal, warm grey and oxblood red to their maximum effects which, when you look at Hackney Carriages, London buses and the typically slate grey sky, positively scream London!

Priestmangoode insist the trains are future proofed to last 30 or 40 years, to allow for any future developments and requirements on the network. This future-proofing concept obviously didn’t extend to the seat patterns, which resemble a pattern design found in an old and dusty 1970s carpet catalogue.

London Underground seating

The seat patterns may hurt your eyes, but at least with the number provided you should get a seat. Image Credit: Core 77

Driverless trains? 

But thinking ahead allows for the possibility of fully automated trains that controversially won’t require drivers. Indeed it is evident that the tube frontage has no immediately visible driver’s cab, but instead a large window surrounded by a strip of curved light created using LEDs with a door in the centre.

The firm has designed two versions, one with a driver’s cab and one that is driverless, owing to controversy over automated trains. Boris Johnson announced that the first trains will have drivers, but these will be phased and trains will be automated by the mid 2020. “Automation is going to come. This train will allow us to do that,” said Johnson at the New Tube Project press briefing.

The New Tube project presents Priestmangoode with many challenges, such as working with the limitations of the oldest underground network in the world, such as the small heights and widths of the deep tunnels.

London Underground Trains

London’s population will be 9 million by the time the first trains start running. Image Credit: Core 77

24/7 tube action

The studio has promised more platform doors, such as those seen on the jubilee line. The trains are designed to run 24/7, to meet the requirements of the weekend Night Tube service that will be introduced September next year. Projects of this type are fundamental due to London’s vertiginous population growth, hurtling towards 9 million by 2020. The trains will increase capacity by between 20 to 60 per cent on the four tube lines.

Priestmangoode has worked on a number of high profile transport projects around the world, including conceptual train platforms that move and aircraft interiors designed to create more space for hand luggage. The New Tube Project is set to be another when it is finally realised.

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