The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today revealed the designs for the New Tube for London – a fleet of 250 trains set to go into operation in the mid-2020s. The design, which pays homage to the heritage of the Underground, brings significant improvements to the service, with the trains capable of fully automatic operation.

Like many urban transport services, parts of the London Underground are in need of some serious attention, with the level of demand on key routes, such as the Piccadilly line, expected to increase by as much as 20 percent by 2020.

The New Tube services aim to tackle the city’s rising population by not only increasing capacity, but also improving speed and frequency of trains. Transport for London (TfL) worked with PriestmanGoode on the new design, which is set to make significant improvements to the service while retaining the recognizable look of London Underground transportation.

The design makes big changes to the service, adding air cooling for the first time on deep-level stretches of the Tube. There are also wider doors, walk-through carriages, built-in live information screens and improved accessibility by means of step-free access. Aesthetically, the trains are not a million miles from those used on the London Underground today, but the new designs look more modern, spacious and open than the existing carriages.

Once in place, the new trains will up capacity on the Central and Bakerloo lines by 25 percent, the Waterloo & City line by 50 percent and the Piccadilly line by a full 60 percent, accounting for an mean increase of 12,000 customers per hour. While initially, they will have operators on board, they’re designed to run automatically – something that’s expected to improve the reliability and longevity of the service.

"The New Tube marks a significant step forward in giving Londoners and visitors the accessible and modern transport service that they expect and deserve," said Mayor Johnson.

The overall cost of the project is estimated between £1 billion and £2.5 billion (around US$1.6 billion - $4 billion), with companies such as Siemens, Hitachi and Bombardier competing for the contract, scheduled to be awarded in 2016. The first new carriages are expected to roll onto the the Piccadilly line in 2022. They have an estimated 40 year life span.

If you’re interested in getting a closer look at the New Tube for London, the designs are on show at the city’s King’s Cross St Pancras Underground station until November 16. Alternatively, you can check out the video below for a fly-through of the new design.

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