The British studio PriestmanGoode has unveiled a design for London’s new Tube train–the $4 billion centerpiece in $25 billion of upgrades planned for the London Underground in the coming decade. And it’s a snaking, glowing vision of the future.
The entire train is fitted with recessed LED lighting, and digital screens rather than paper billboards. Air-conditioning and Wi-Fi are built-in. Wider doors and seamless wheelchair access allow passengers on and off faster. That’s important, as larger cars will allow anywhere from 25% to 50% more people to fit–depending on the line being upgraded. At an undisclosed “phase in” date, a controversial, driverless version of these trains will roll out that operates by computer rather than conductor, allowing designers to run seating all the way to the front car. And since the cars aren’t separated by doors, a passenger’s vision is unobstructed from one car to another. So in theory, through a straight enough track, someone in the back of the train will be able to see all the way to the front.
London plans to replace 250 of its trains running on Piccadilly, Central, Waterloo & City and Bakerloo lines beginning the mid 2020s. Following upgrades, the trains are scheduled to run into 2060 before being replaced.