London’s public transport body Transport for London (TfL) has admitted some of the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line station platforms will need to be re-engineered to allow its new rolling stock to fit. 

New units are being tested by manufacturer Siemens Mobility in Germany, but deliveries will be staggered between 2025 and 2027. This mean there will be a three-year period in which mixed rolling stock will be used on the line. 

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But as revealed by London’s Evening Standard newspaper, there are safety concerns over the plan to narrow some platforms in order to fit into stations. 

TfL’s chief capital officer Stuart Harvey said the design of the ‘Inspiro London’ model created “challenges”. 

“There are some challenges with some platform/train interfaces. It’s the same height – it’s just making sure we stay away from the platform edges,” he explained. 

Lynn Sloman, a TfL board member, said: “There is a question about what that means about the interface between the old rolling stock and the platform and the potential safety issues.”

In essence, if the current plan goes ahead, there will be a larger gap for passengers to mind as they enter and exit the older units. 

94 of the new trains are on order from Siemens Mobility, which is manufacturing the units in Austria and testing them in Germany. 

Hiding in plain sight

It is unclear why the issue is coming to light now, as the detailed plans and configurations for the new models have been accessible online since March 2021. 

Currently, the Piccadilly Line runs stock designed in 1973, built by Metro-Cammell, and are 2,629mm wide. 

The new Inspiro London trains, meanwhile, are 2,648mm wide. 

Although the difference is a mere 19mm, the platform design is precise to reduce the gap between the train and the platform and minimise safety issues.

While the fix to the platforms will eventually result in the desired smooth interface between train and platform, it will actually widen the gap between 1973 stock and platforms in the interim.