1983 tube stock

This page was last modified on 17 January 2013

[PHOTO: 1983 tube stock driving car in LT Museum Depot (90kB)]

One car of the 1983 tube stock has been preserved at the LT Musuem depot at Acton. Driving Motor car 3734 is seen here (and below on this page).

Introduction and History

When the Fleet Line (Phase One, Stanmore to Charing Cross) was opened as the Jubilee Line in 1979, it was worked by 1972 MkII tube stock; a first batch comprising fifteen new trains was eventually delivered from Metro-Cammell and began to replace the 1972 stock from May 1984. However, these still shared the workload alongside the remaining 1972 stock until November 1988 when delivery of a second batch (16½ trains) was completed. The trains had been costed at £1.5M each in 1979. The two batches of 1983 stock were very similar, a few detail differences not having any bearing on performance or compatibility.

The 1983 tube stock was a smaller brother to the subsurface ‘D’ subsurface stock (of 1978), in that the bogies and Kiepe traction/braking equipment were very similar; it even shared the new style of fore-aft Traction Brake Controller in the cab. Unfortunately for passengers and subsequently the LUL management, it also shared the D stocks biggest blunder: single-leaf doors. Rather than having a conventional layout where the central area of each car carries double doors sliding together to meet in the middle, all doors are single and only somewhat wider than end doorways on other stocks. As has been proven with the 1992 tube stock (which has extra-wide doorways), the main opposition to greater traffic throughput (trains per hour) is the length of station dwell times: narrow doorways mean longer dwell times, and the whole transport system suffers under pressure as a result.

Jubilee Line Extension

When a new version of Phase Two (the Jubilee Line Extension) was set in motion, the number of trains on the line needed to be doubled; since some of the existing trains would have been in use for barely ten years, clearly the intention was to supplement — rather than replace — the existing fleet. To help the two types of stock to match aesthetically when units were coupled together, the 1996 tube stock thus designed was arranged with a similar window-layout to the 1983 stock: long, low windows, quite unlike the wonderfully spacious 1992 stock. At what was presumably a late stage it was decided to opt for total replacement of the 1983 stock rather than supplementation, and so 59 trains of 1996 stock were ordered: the 1983 stock would be scrapped or other uses found for it, and the ’96 stock would have sole charge of the Extended Jubilee Line. And so it is, that 1996 stock has a rather restrictive window-layout; worse is that the brand-new Northern Line trains (1995 stock) have bodyshells which are almost identical. In effect, passengers on the Northern will suffer for years to come because of a stylist’s attempt to make things match on the Jubilee in a scheme which never came to fruition!

In the wild

I only recall travelling on the 1983 stock once, and even that was just from Charing Cross to Green Park at a time when the 1996 stock was taking hold (New Year 1998). I have no photos of it in service. The last train of 1983 stock ran on 9 July 1998, with a small amount of ceremony. Many of the batch 1 units have been scrapped, others and batch 2 units being stored at MOD Shoeburyness and various locations around the UndergrounD network, including Uxbridge sidings and Cockfosters depot. ‘Raggajohn’ did have a list of them and their locations, but it died from the web a long time ago; I hope to resurrect it for this page at some point.

[PHOTO: derelict 1983 stock hiding in sidings: 58kB]

The red-skirted front of a 1983-stock train can be seen poking out from behind the Cockfosters depot trainwash. The photo was taken in late 1999 from vacant land adjacent to the bridge over the line at Oakwood, but despite using a telephoto lens it appears very distant (Friday 21 May 1999).


There is some fine footage of these trains at work on YouTube, courtesy of citytransport.info.

Car 3734 at the LT Museum Depot

Driving motor car 3734 is preserved at the London Transport Museum “Depot” at Acton; I took the opportunity to photograph various parts of it when I paid a visit in March 2003. Each photo in this section is a link to a full-screen-size version.

[PHOTO: interior of 1983 tube stock saloon (83kB)]

Above: I suspect I’m not the only person who found the 1980s colour-scheme of yellow, orange and brown somewhat less-than-pleasing! This must have been the last stock to be designed with strap-hangers (the ball-on-spring handgrips for standing passengers).

[PHOTO: interior of 1983 tube stock cab (115kB)]

Above: A general view of the cab interior. The red handle is the Traction Brake Controller: the Train Operator twists it 90 degrees clockwise against a spring to operate the Deadman device; she then pushes it forwards for motoring positions, and pulls it backwards for braking notches. The red knob to its right is the Master Selector switch, which has modes for Forwards, Inter, Reverse, Shutdown, and so on.

[PHOTO: 1983 tube stock cab detail (82kB)]

Above: This is one of the control panels in the cab. It contains various indications and buttons which are fairly self-explanatory. An indication is lit if the train lights are off, which is a helpful reminder to the operator not to be driving in a tunnel without car lighting! O.L. stands for Overload, which is the device which will trip out if too much Traction Current is passed. MA is the Motor Alternator, which as its name suggests is a motor running an alternator by way of producing low-voltage AC; this is used for control and lighting purposes.

[PHOTO: 1983 tube stock cab detail (63kB)]

Above: This is a zoomed-in portion of a photo I took, and serves to illustrate a diagnostic panel which would assist the driver in identifying faults on the train, to allow correct action to be taken with a minimum of delay. I don’t claim to know all about this panel, though doubtless some readers will be able to assist!