London Underground 1986 Prototype Tube Stock

In the early 1980s plans were begun to replace the 1962 Tube Stock operating on the Central Line. As there were a number of new rail technologies and promising technical innovations available it was decided to built 3 prototype trains to evaluate a number of them [1]. Two of the trains (Style A and C) were built by Metro-Cammell and the third (Style B) by BREL Derby. The 3 trains were each given different colours to aid staff and passenger feedback. Style A was red, Style B blue and Style C green.

Number built: 12 (3 4-car sets)
Built: 1986-87
Builder: Metro-Cammell (Style A & C (Red & Green))
BREL Derby (Style B (Blue))
Formation: Driving Motor (DM)+Trailer (T)+T+DM

Each prototype consisted of 2 2-car trains (with a cab at one end) semi-permanently coupled to form a 4-car train. The 3 types were all compatible with each other so any combination of 2-car sets could be used to create up to an 8-car train [2]. A number of different equipment types were trialled in each 2-car set so a working train could have a variety of power, control and braking systems. Air suspension, steerable bogies and onboard station indicators were also trialled. As well a variety of different interiors were trialled throughout the fleet.

The trains were used on the Jubilee Line for 2 years from 1988 to 1989 used in addition to the regular timetable, being withdrawn following a derailment at Neasden [3]. They also appeared on the Central Line for a display at Woodford [4] and the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly Line in 1989 for an open day [5].

Following a public consultation the blue Style B train built by BREL proved to be the best received and BREL received the order for the 1992 Tube Stock which incorporated much of the technology and the best features of the 3 styles. One Driving Motor from the green Style C train has been preserved.

The 1986 Tube Stock, although not in service for long, did herald the future. The major innovation of the design was the extruded aluminium construction method and solid-state traction equipment which have been used on all subsequent tube designs [6].
Preserved car 16 (Style C) at the LT Museum Depot Acton

Style C interior

Style C cab

Another exterior view of car 16

[1] Paul Moss, London Underground (Haynes, 2014) p. 136
[2] J. Graeme Bruce, The London Underground Tube Stock (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 123
[3] Mike Horne, The Jubilee Line (Capital Transport, 2000) p. 61
[4] J. Graeme Bruce & Desmond F. Coombe, The Twopenny Tube (Capital Transport, 1996) p. 74
[5] Antony Badsey-Ellis & Mike Horne, The Aldwych Branch (Capital Transport, 2009) p. 73
[6] Piers Connor, The London Underground Electric Train (Crowood Press, 2015) p. 139