London Underground line 'won't get new trains for 15 years' despite ongoing issues

Underground staff walk along the platform at Battersea Power station
-Credit: (Image: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Sadiq Khan has said that the Northern line will most likely not get new trains for another 15 years. The Mayor of London said that Transport for London (TfL) is doing 'the best it can' to cope with technical issues encountered with the current 1990s stock.

He added that, in order to design, build and install new stock on the line, more funding would be needed from the newly elected Labour government. Engineers are currently having to deal with problems with trains’ traction power system and the availability of spare parts.

MyLondon reported in June that the Northern line was experiencing a shortage of trains as bosses apologised to customers affected by 'severe delays'. It comes after disruption on the Jubilee and Central lines.

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Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street in London
Sadiq Khan met with the new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer at No. 10 Downing Street on Tuesday (July 9) morning -Credit:Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last year, improvements to trains on the former led to services being cut. At the beginning of this year, an emergency timetable had to be introduced due to mechinical faults on Central line trains. A £500 million project to update the trains - first introduced on the network in 1992 - is underway.

The new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, did not guarantee more cash for TfL when speaking to MyLondon in April. She said: "I've always been clear, I will not make any commitments without being able to say where the money's going to come from."

Ms Reeves added: "Of course I want to see the investment in infrastructure our country needs to grow after 14 years of mismanagement. But we have to always show where the money is going to come from, and we need to grow the economy to be able to release funds for crucial infrastructure investment."

PM says he and mayor will 'deliver'

The new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, told MyLondon in June: "Well look, we will work together. [Sadiq Khan] has got good plans on transport. He’s got good plans on housing - one of our missions is to build 1.5 million houses - working together with the mayor and we can deliver on these much needed promises for the country.”

The prospect of new Northern line trains was raised by Labour London Assembly Member Marina Ahmad. She asked Mr Khan: "When do TfL anticipate that funds will be available for new rolling stock for the Northern line?"

The mayor replied: "Investment in the timely renewal and replacement of rail rolling stock is essential to ensuring the reliable services that London needs. Transport for London ’s (TfL) current priority for rolling stock replacement is the Bakerloo line fleet which, at 52 years old, is the oldest fleet of trains operating daily in the UK.

"Keeping the Bakerloo line trains in service, given their age and condition, is a challenge and TfL has time limited options in a contract with Siemens for new trains on both the Bakerloo and Central lines. However, replacement through these time limited contract options will require Government funding support, as will future rolling stock replacement for other London Underground lines such as the Jubilee and Northern lines, both of which were introduced in the mid-1990s and will need replacing in the next 15 years or so as they reach the end of their design life. I don’t anticipate funds to be available for the Northern line rolling stock replacement until then.

"In the meantime, TfL continues to manage the impact of constrained investment on its Tube fleet, including the Northern line trains, the best it can. This includes working with its Northern line maintenance contractor to resolve recent challenges relating to a component in the trains’ traction power system and the availability of spare parts. TfL will continue to do all it can to safely manage this and other fleet issues while minimising the impact on reliability and service levels."

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