Inspiro London

Inspiro London Photo

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants 80 percent of trips in the city made by public transport, walking and cycling by 2041. It’s a wildly audacious goal, and a chunk of its success may lie with one project: Inspiro London. The £1.5 billion initiative will create 94 trains to replace the 1970s-built model currently running the London Underground’s Piccadilly line.

The next-gen, ultra-sustainable trains are billed as 95 percent recoverable and consume 20 percent less energy than the existing fleet. But it’s not just about eco-efficiency benefits. The trains also offer a way for the city to improve service on trains. And that would presumably attract more riders—which the new design accounts for handily: It’s able to accommodate 1,076 passengers per train—a 10 percent boost in overall capacity.

Announced in 2018, the project took one step closer to reality in March when Transport for London and Siemens Mobility unveiled the new future-focused designs.

The new look features wider doors and nine longer, walk-through air-conditioned carriages, offering commuters more room to move between trains and increased accessibility, a design element developed with user feedback. The train’s articulated design will also provide a lighter, more energy-efficient ride, while taking less of a toll on the track.

“The introduction of new, desperately needed modern and reliable trains on the Piccadilly line, and the capacity they will provide, will be a boost for the capital,” Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground, London, said in a statement.

The massive investment not only reshapes the city’s post-COVID transportation infrastructure, but it could also bring an economic boost, with Siemens Mobility announcing £50 million in related contracts for U.K. suppliers. The project, coupled with an as-yet-unfunded investment in signaling, would create 25,000 new jobs in the capital, as well as supporting the next generation of transport workers through apprenticeships created by Siemens Mobility, Transport for London and the wider supply chain. In Goole, East Yorkshire alone—where 50 percent of the fleet is being built—up to 700 people will be employed in engineering and manufacturing roles.

The introduction of the upgraded units and the removal of the old ones will be gradual. The Inspiro London trains are expected to start hitting the tracks in 2025, with peak-time service eventually increasing from 24 to 27 trains per hour. That would translate to one train every 135 seconds during the busiest times.