Driverless Tube Trains and Automated Tickets Could Be In The Future

Following last week’s leaked report about rumored layoffs, a Transport for London authority confirmed that new driverless trains might be introduced to the London Underground network in the near future.  The ‘Operational Vision’ paper will be presented to the Transport for London board for review on Wednesday.  Trade unions are already braced for a fight.

Outlined in the paper is a plan for growth and change in the London Underground sector.  Given the advances in technology thus far, it is unlikely that new passenger trains will be purchased any longer with conventional drivers’ cabs.  The next generation of trains currently being developed for the Bakerloo, Piccadilly, and Central lines are expected to be released some time in the 2020s.  Of course, trains without driver cabs will mean a drastic decline in demand for employing drivers.  The Transport for London acknowledges that its staff operating model will need to change, but it promises that train staff who currently drive trains will be ensured some kind of job in the company for the rest of their career.  Staff members are asked to be flexible with these modifications.  Automated train technology is not the only advance that is likely to take jobs away in the future.  The company is currently working on a “wave and pay” ticketing technology where passengers can use a contact-less bankcard that deducts funds when waved over a sensor.  This technology will be introduced as a trial on Transport for London buses next year.  With such an overwhelming response already, commuters should expect turmoil and worker strikes to come.


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