Local MP Greg Hands has welcomed the news that after leading a long running campaign, new trains are to come into service on the District Line later this month. For many years Greg has campaigned for more frequent and upgraded trains on the District Line, and especially the Wimbledon branch. Chelsea and Fulham has the highest number of Tube users of any London constituency. In 2011 14,000 residents responded in a TfL consultation which resulted in five more rush-hour trains running through Fulham during the morning peak.
Greg himself was a guest of Transport for London when visiting one of the very first S-Class trains, when they were introduced on the Hammersmith & City Line early in 2013. The new 'walk-through' S-Class trains, which are one carriage bigger than the line's old trains, will go into operation for the first time on the Wimbledon Branch Line, which runs through Fulham and through Sloane Square, at the end of February, and 80 new District Line trains will be phased in gradually until all are in service by 2016.
The S-Stock is unique as it's the first train on the Tube with a walk-through gangway between carriages - the inside of the train is one continuous length, providing improved capacity, security and passenger flow. The new trains, which are built by Bombardier in Derby, can accommodate 865 passengers, 17% more than current stock, and have wider doors and walkways, as well as air conditioning. They are also better adapted for wheelchair users and CCTV also enables the driver to see into every carriage for increased safety and security.
The District Line is also used by more than 700,000 people each day. At peak times the Wimbledon branch of the District Line operates at 92 per cent of capacity with some trains operating over capacity and many passengers unable to board at stations such as Parson’s Green and Fulham Broadway
Welcoming the new trains, Greg said: “This is fantastic news for everyone in Fulham and many stops beyond. I have been campaigning for more trains on the Wimbledon branch for years. This new trains will now add significantly more capacity, on the line making for more efficient, comfortable and smoother journeys. The air-conditioning will also be welcome during the summer months. I travel by the District Line at least twice a day between Fulham, Chelsea and Westminster and am looking forward to using them; I’m sure many residents are too.”
Similar S-Stock trains were introduced on the on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines last September and have proved popular with passengers. The District Line's existing trains are more than 40 years old. They started service in 1969/70 and were manufactured in two batches in 1969, with a further supply in 1977.
By the end of 2016 there will be 191 of the new trains on 40% of the Tube network running on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
London Underground’s Chief Operating Officer said: “As part of our continued drive to improve our passengers’ experience of travelling on the Tube we’re delighted to be rolling out these new air-conditioned, high specification trains.”