A new signalling system on the London Underground has been successfully tested for the first time.
The Thales computer-based signalling and control system will allow trains to run closer together, which means more frequent services and a boost to capacity on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
S Stock test trains ran on the new system for the first time between Hammersmith and Latimer Road
Transport for London (TfL) said that passengers will start to see the benefits from early 2018, when the first section of the new network goes live.
The next phase of testing is expected to begin in December with further testing weekends lined-up to install the system across more of the network.
Services will begin to increase in frequency from 2021, when more of the network is operating the new system, and all four lines will be using the system by 2023.
TfL said that the capacity increase will be by as much as 33 per cent across all four lines.
The new modern S Stock trains that run on all four lines are currently having new equipment installed, with 30 already fitted out by Bombardier.
The work is part of the 4LM (Four Lines Modernisation) programme which includes new rolling stock (now in service) and new power supplies as well as new signalling.
The signalling system itself, a version of Thales’ SelTrac that is already in operation on other networks around the world including London’s Jubilee and Northern lines, is being upgraded in 14 stages (known by TfL as ‘Migration Areas’). The first will be Hammersmith to Paddington, and these trials are being carried on on half of that – Hammersmith to Latimer Road.
The project has started at Hammersmith because it is a terminus so the new installation only has to integrate with the old legacy system at one end.
Thales’ transport vice-president Shaun Jones said: “This is a significant milestone for us to achieve on this critical upgrade for London.
“We have demonstrated that our state-of-the-art radio communications technology will deliver better, more reliable journeys on 40 per cent of the network, creating a world-class transport system for our capital city.”