Siemens’ vision for the future of the Tube has been showcased at its urban development centre – The Crystal – in London.
The Inspiro family is the next-generation of metro train from the German company. The full-size mock-up displayed at the Royal Victoria Docks in London is a brand new design created exclusively for the Tube in its 150th year. But at a whopping £1million a carriage, what advances in technology does the future actually hold?
Well, ironically, savings – in a number of respects. Firstly, savings in space – walk-through carriages (as already seen on Bombardier’s S-Stock trains) will allow 30% more passengers to occupy the same space as the trains in use today. There’s also savings in energy – Siemens claims the units will be 30% more efficient than some existing carriages on the network, even with better lighting and full air-conditioning thrown in the mix. Time is also a precious commodity – especially on the Underground – and wider doors will allow quicker loading times at stations. And finally, there’s also savings on staffing – the Inspiro units would be automated and hence, driverless.
Much has been made of driverless trains in past years, with fierce opposition and rampant support in equal measures. What many do not realise is that there have been driverless trains on the Tube as far back as 1967, when the Victoria Line opened with new ‘1967 Stock’ units. ‘Drivers’ did remain, mostly to open and close the doors at stations. Whether the travelling public – or the workers – will appreciate a lack of operators in the future is another story – although it doesn’t currently appear to affect those who travel on the automated Docklands Light Railway (DLR).
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