FOI request detail

Driverless trains

Request ID: FOI-2450-1617
Date published: 13 July 2017

You asked

To bring my request within the cost limit set out under the FOIA, I have further reduced the scope of my request to the below. 1) Please provide all reports held concerning the introduction of driverless trains on London Underground services from January 1st 2016 to date. 2) Please provide all communications between the Office of the Mayor of London and senior officials of TfL regarding the introduction of driverless trains on London Underground lines from January 1st 2016 to date Please find a list of senior officials I wish to receive information for below. a) Sarah Atkins Commercial Director Rail & Underground b) Martin Rowark Director of Commercial Line Upgrades c) Paul Thomas Head of Engineering d) Gareth Powell Director of Strategy & Service Development e) Michele Dix Managing Director of Planning f) Nicholas Brown Chief Operating Officer g) David Waboso Director of Capital Programmes h) Mike Brown Managing Director - London Underground & Rail i) Peter Hendy Commissioner

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-2450-1617


Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 8 March 2017 asking for information about Driverless trains.


Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information and our information access policy. I can confirm we hold some of the information you require. Please accept my apologies for the delay in our response.


Having searched our records I can confirm that we do not hold any correspondence held directly between the named individuals and the Office of the Mayor of London regarding the introduction of driverless trains on London Underground lines within the specified time period.


When we conduct email searches we use broad search terms to ensure that all relevant emails are captured and then drill down to extract those relevant to the request. In this case the terms ‘automated’ and ‘driverless’ were used.


In this case, the search provided a reasonable number of results for review. However, none of the emails were found to fit within the scope of your request – for example, emails on automated Oyster refunds were being caught by the search.


Please see the requested documents attached. However, in accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply some of the information contained within the document entitled ‘FOI-2450-1617’ as it is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 43.


This document is an “Operations & Maintenance Concept” which examines how degrees of further automation could work on our network. The purpose of the document was to inform equipment design, and does not form the basis for any proposed changes to the way we operate our services. This document originated during the previous Mayoral administration and was used to inform the procurement process for new trains, which is currently underway, with the aim of awarding the contract in Spring 2018.


In this instance the exemption has been applied as disclosure of the information you have requested could impact our negotiation in current and future discussions with the trade unions. The information redacted includes proposals around future potential operation which were produced during the previous Mayoral administration. While the document retains an internal use for future consideration, there is a significant risk that disclosure of these proposals and considerations on this subject would lead to our commercial interests being harmed through a more fractured negotiating position with unions both now and in the future.


The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned.  We recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, but in this instance we feel the balance of public interest lies in favour of withholding the information to ensure that we are able to negotiate effectively with the trade unions without being hindered by the release of information which may or may not become realistic objectives for the organisation.


Additionally, in accordance with TfL’s obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), some personal data has been removed, as required by section 40(2) of the FOI Act. This is because disclosure of this personal data would be a breach of the DPA, specifically the first principle of the DPA which requires all processing of personal data to be fair and lawful. It would not be fair to disclose this personal information when the individuals have no expectation it would be disclosed and TfL has not satisfied one of the conditions of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act which would make the processing ‘fair’.


More broadly, in terms of our plans for future improvements to the Tube network our focus is on increasing the capacity and frequency of services, and putting the needs of customers at the heart of everything the Tube does.


To do this we need to modernise our existing infrastructure. We are progressing with plans to upgrade the Piccadilly, Bakerloo Central and Waterloo & City lines, with the next generation of Tube trains. These trains, with new signalling technology, will allow us to run more trains, faster and closer together, while also improving reliability.


The new trains will be more energy efficient and easier to maintain. They will also have a number of features which will make them safer and more comfortable in future. For example, they will be air-cooled, provide improved customer information and have walk-through interiors. As well as providing greater capacity and reducing temperatures in the warm summer months, this will ensure the trains are easier to evacuate, should that ever be necessary.


The starting point for us is the Piccadilly line, where we plan to deliver a major improvement to capacity from 2026, with new trains serving the line from 2023. On the Piccadilly line we can deliver the 60 per cent capacity increase while running the trains the same way we do on the Victoria, Jubilee and Northern lines, where trains are under automatic control, with a driver on board controlling the doors, and able to take manual control when necessary.


The new trains will be capable of full automation. As these trains will serve London for at least 40 years, it makes sense to future-proof their design. However, the trains will continue to have a driver on board.


Throughout the development and procurement of these new trains we will work closely with customers, stakeholders, trade unions and staff to understand how to make the most of the new technology.


If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.


Yours sincerely


Lee Hill

Senior FOI Case Officer


FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London


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