Major Reorganisation of Local Tube Services Planned
District line to be switched for Piccadilly on Ealing Broadway branch
The decision appears to have been made by Transport for London (TfL) to press ahead with a major restructuring of local underground services. This would see the District line service to Ealing Broadway ended and services switched to the Piccadilly line. The rolling stock would transfer to the Richmond and Wimbledon branches of the District line allowing an increase in regularity for these services. Along with the introduction the Piccadilly line service, this would mean that close to 40 trains per hour (tph) would be serving Turnham Green some time in the next decade as opposed to the current 12-13.
TfL have made no official announcement about the plan and have yet to respond to our request for comment but the intention is revealed in an internal report which is stating the case for the purchase of new rolling stock for the ‘Deep Tube’ which includes the Piccadilly line.
This report is due to be considered by a procurement committee later this month. A proposal is being made for the design, manufacture and purchase of 94 new trains, along with the necessary new infrastructure and enabling works to run them. Current Piccadilly line trains have in some cases been in service for over 40 years and their renewal has been delayed by the collapse of the Public Private Partnership (PPP).arrangement.
The existing Piccadilly line ‘73’ Tube Stock trains were introduced from 1975 in conjunction with the extension of services from Hounslow West to Heathrow Airport by 1977. These trains are now one of the oldest train fleets in passenger service in the UK. With a design life of 40 years, the fleet was originally scheduled for replacement by 2014. A programme of life-extension and repair works was carried out between 1996 and 2001 to enable these trains to continue to operate until replacement however an increasing number of age-related issues have been occurring on these trains and these are anticipated to rise further.
The new rolling stock would be scheduled for delivery in August 2023 which would mean that the trains are likely to enter service by early 2024. The new trains would enable frequencies on the Piccadilly line to increase to 27 tph by 2026 when they are all delivered with a longer term target of reaching 36 tph as is being achieved currently on the Victoria line with modern signalling and rolling stock.
Each new train will be slightly longer and have more interior space than today. They will also feature fully open, walk through, gangways as now in service on the sub-surface lines. A graphic (see above) in the TfL report suggests that the project would be completed by 2027/8 with a two thirds increase in capacity on the Piccadilly line. A second stage of the project will seek to purchase an additional seven trains in 2029 to take advantage of upgraded signalling. The realignment will allow for increased capacity on the other branches of the District line of at least 25% and as much as 50%
If the switch of the lines proceeded as currently planned it is not clear whether this can occur before the signalling upgrade which TfL say is necessary before there is an introduction of a full Piccadilly line service at Turnham Green. We have asked TfL if they would introduce a Piccadilly line service at Turnham Green as soon as the line was redirected to Ealing Broadway. Without this change Chiswick would lose its main direct public transport link to the Elizabeth line (Crossrail). We have also enquired about the intended level of service at Chiswick Park station. It has been suggested that this station could be retained on the District line. This could prove controversial as it would require a new station entrance on Bollo Lane which might require the loss of some space in the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve. Alternatively Chiswick Park could become a Piccadilly line station served by non-Heathrow bound trains.
May 13, 2018