LONDON UNDERGROUND has confirmed the procurement of additional trains for the Jubilee and Northern Lines has been cancelled. Transport for London had previously stated the Jubilee and Northern Additional Trains (JNAT) procurement, due to cover 10x7-car trains for the Jubilee Line and 17x6-car trains for the Northern Line to boost frequencies, was ‘paused’.
Speaking to the London Assembly Transport Committee, Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross explained a 2% fall in passenger numbers using the tube over the summer had forced TfL to realign its business plan. Ms Shawcross said the tube makes a considerable surplus, which is used to fund other parts of TfL’s network.
She denied either a cut in government grant to TfL or Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s fares freeze had influenced the decision, saying both had been accounted for in the business plan.
David Hughes, LU’s Director of Strategy and Service Development, told the committee the cancellation would save £600 million across TfL’s business plan period, although he said £123 million had been retained in the business plan to look at continued improvements on the two lines.
Two manufacturers, Alstom and CAF, were shortlisted to bid for the JNAT procurement. Mr Hughes said:
‘The train procurement, in effect we cancel, because you can’t keep the bidders dangling. You can’t say to them, thank you for your bids, we might get back to you in one, two, three, we don’t know quite when.’ He added that while there was no reason the procurement could not be restarted at a later date, the need to replace both fleets at the end of the 2030s meant the business case for adding trains would be diminished the later they were ordered.
Mr Hughes said LU was currently firming up plans to deliver the highest frequencies possible on the two lines by tweaking infrastructure, signalling and fleet utilisation.
He said this would offer some extra capacity, but not the same amount as if new trains were ordered. Instead, the focus would be investing in LU’s older fleets, in particular ensuring replacement of the Piccadilly Line fleet, which Mr Hughes said would not be accomplished for ‘seven or eight years’ under current plans.
On the Northern Line, the current peak service comprises 30 trains per hour (tph) northwards from Morden and 24tph on the two core branches via Bank and Charing Cross. In January the highest peak frequency will be extended to run for two hours, and LU is then examining ways to achieve 32tph from Morden in the morning peak and 28tph on the two branches by September 2019.
This is short of the ambitions for a 30tph service on the core branches, which was originally planned for 2023.
Similarly, LU plans a doubling in length of the time the peak 30tph service operates on the Jubilee Line next May. With the new fleet LU was planning to introduce 34.3tph by late 2020 with an aspiration to push this further to 36tph, but now Mr Hughes says the operator is looking at achieving 31 or 32tph sometime around 2019. He stressed the detailed planning for enhancements on both lines was still ongoing.
Both Ms Shawcross and Mr Hughes told the committee TfL’s future investment programmes would not be affected and had indeed been secured by this decision. This includes the Deep Tube Upgrade Programme (DTUP), which covers replacement trains and signalling for the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City Lines.