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Piccadilly line trains still run by ‘obsolete’ signalling system from the 1950s

PUBLISHED: 09:35 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:35 15 May 2018

Doors on a Piccadilly Line train opened whilst it was still moving (Photo: Romazur)

Doors on a Piccadilly Line train opened whilst it was still moving (Photo: Romazur)

Archant

The Piccadilly line’s 60-year-old signalling and control system is being upgraded – but it won’t stop the infuriating delays.

The line has had the second most signal failures of any in the last two years and commuters at Finsbury Park are often hit by delays.

A major overhaul is set to take place in five years, but until then temporary improvements are being made to make sure the system – the oldest on the Tube network – doesn’t completely pack in.

A new service control building and system has been built in South Kensington to replace the existing Earl’s Court one and the new kit will be up and running from next month.

Unfortunately, TfL told the Gazette it won’t stop signal failures on the line, but it will mean station displays show more accurate details about when the next train will arrive.

A TfL report states: “The existing Piccadilly line signalling and control system is vulnerable to failure. The frequency and impact of failure is predicted to increase rapidly as asset degradation and obsolescence are exacerbated by diminishing spares and technical expertise.

“Assets and building conditions at the service control centre, London Underground’s oldest serving, date from the 1950s and offer sub-standard working conditions.”

The temporary fix will be in place until the arrival of the multi-million-pound Deep Tube Upgrade Programme (DTUP), which will also improve the Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines.

That will see 94 new trains replace the existing “life-expired” fleet on the Piccadilly line, which dates back to the 1970s. The bigger trains, with air-cooling systems, will all be up and running by 2026.

Infrastructure improvements will also allow 27 trains to run every hour at peak time, rising to 33 when the second stage is completed.

Meanwhile, the upgrade to the Victoria line designed to allow trains to run every 100 seconds at peak time is being held back by the 1960s signalling system. It has been branded “obsolete” and proposals are in to upgrade it.

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