Thales confirmed for Subsurface Tube line resignalling

Transport for London has confirmed the award of the £760M Subsurface Tube line signalling upgrade to Thales. Thales were revealed as being in the frame in March.

LU District Line, Upminster

The contractor picked up the contract for the four lines after the job was rebid when London Underground (LU) pulled the original deal with Bombardier in 2013 because it “could not deliver to the timescale we required” according to LU.

The original job, a key part of the £5.4bn subsurface line investment, had been due to finish in 2018. The new timetable is for completion in 2022.

Thales has just completed the highly successful Northern line signalling upgrade and before that the Jubilee line. 

“Once completed, 60 per cent of the London Underground will have been modernised using Thales signalling technology" - Patrice Caine, Thales.

Work on the Subsurface lines is the next major phase of the Underground’s modernisation and is promised to bring faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys to the 1.3M passengers who use the Circle, District, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines every day. Trains will be able to run every two minutes. The lines make up 40% of the Tube network and include the oldest parts built in 1863.

Up to 1,100 jobs and 60 apprenticeships will be sustained or created, both in London and across the UK.

The improvements will boost capacity by an average of a third on the four lines and is needed in order to support London’s growing population, which is expected to increase from 8.6 million today to 10 million by 2030.

Work is expected to begin later this year and the main benefits, delivered by 2022, will see frequency of trains running during peak periods increase to 32 trains per hour in central London – a train every two minutes - with frequency increases at other times as well.

The cost per kilometre of re-signalling the four lines is 18 percent less than the modernisation of the Northern line, TfL said. This was around half the cost of the Jubilee and Victoria line modernisations delivered under the Public Private Partnership arrangements, ended by the Mayor five years ago.

Overall budget for the four line modernisation programme has been confirmed as £5.41bn, according to TfL. This is a reduction of £131M compared to an earlier estimate announced in March.  This budget includes investment in 191 new modern air-conditioned walk through trains, built in the UK, and already introduced on the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City and District lines.

The investment also includes further improvements to get the most out of the new trains, including new track, lengthened platforms and rebuilt train depots with advanced technology to ensure the highest levels of train reliability. This includes a train control system which will increase capacity further starting with the Circle line in 2021, with additional frequent services at peak times. During 2023 the final improvements will be delivered, with a further boost to peak and off-peak frequency on the Metropolitan line.

"We are ready to begin work to bring the next four lines into the modern era”  Nick Brown, London Underground 

These improvements will follow modernisation of other Tube lines in recent years.  On the Victoria line train frequency is up to 34 trains per hour, while on the Jubilee line it is at  30 trains per hour  – some of the most frequent services anywhere in Europe, according to TfL. Since the start of this year LU has increased capacity on the Northern line, making room for an extra 12,500 passengers each hour.

 “Having successfully modernised three of the most heavily used lines on our network, we are ready to begin work to bring the next four lines into the modern era,” said managing director of London Underground Nick Brown. 

“We have a very clear delivery plan and timetable for the work and, as we have done with the modernisation of the Northern line, we will keep London moving and growing as we do it.  In parallel, we will continue to deliver a better, more reliable service every day which builds on the work over recent years to reduce delays to their lowest ever level.”

 Thales was looking forward to taking on more LU work. “If the Jubilee and Northern lines’ success is any indicator, future travellers on the Circle, District, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines will experience; faster journeys, reduced over-crowding and increased service reliability,” said its chairman and chief executive officer Patrice Caine.

“Once completed, 60 per cent of the London Underground will have been modernised using Thales signalling technology.”

The improvements will all be delivered within the existing TfL Business Plan and the programme is expected to have a benefit-cost ratio of around 4.7 to 1. Once the four subsurface lines have been completed, LU will then move on to introducing new trains and control systems for the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo, and Waterloo & City lines.

Read David Waboso on Resignalling the Underground


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