1996 tube stock

This page was last modified on 17 July 2011

The 1996 tube stock entered service in 1997, and comprises 63 seven-car trains which form the Jubilee Line fleet. Originally 6-car trains, they were was augmented under the 7-car project. Since 26 June 2011 the trains have been running under ATO throughout the line.

[PHOTO: 1996 stock approaching in sunshine: 146kB]

Above: A westbound Jubilee Line train approaches West Ham, with de-icing unit 96108 leading; its train-number/destination display appears not to be working. On the left in the foreground is a repeater for “draw-up” signal TU100; this was read from the eastbound road, from whose platform this photo was taken. All colour-light signals on the Jubilee Line have since become disused following the switch-over to TBTC. (11 July 2006 at 14:04)


Phase One of the Jubilee Line opened in May 1979, taking over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo Line and running in new tunnels through the West End to Charing Cross. At first, the line used 1972 MkII stock, until all the 1983 stock had been brought into use in 1989. The 1983 stock was not particularly successful as, amongst other problems, it had been designed with four single-leaf doors per side (like the D stock) which impeded swift passenger boarding and alighting, increasing station dwell times.

The Jubilee Line Extension (JLE) from Green Park via Canary Wharf to Stratford was completed in November 2000, but a full service over the extended Jubilee Line would require about twice the number of trains as with Phase One. The plan was originally to order enough new trains to make up the necessary total; therefore they were designed to match the 1983 stock, having the same cross-section profile and window-arrangement. However, what actually happened was that a full fleet totalling 59 brand-new trains was ordered from what is now called Alstom (formerly GEC Alsthom, itself the successor of Metro-Cammell) in Birmingham, and this type is known as the 1996 Tube Stock.

[PHOTO: 1996 stock close-up of cab-front: 58kB]

Train 321 calls at Finchley Road with a northbound service from Charing Cross (RIP) to Wembley Park. The dot after the car-number denotes that de-icing equipment is fitted to unit 96090; ‘A’-end units (even numbers) between 96080 and 96118 inclusive are so equipped. (8 Jan 1999)


Delivery and commissioning of the 1996 stock took place well ahead of the 1995 stock Northern Line trains despite the latter’s earlier type-name. Following initial delivery by rail to Ruislip depot for commissioning, some trains were delivered by road to Stratford Market Depot, while others were transferred from Ruislip to Neasden using 1962 tube stock pilot-units. Because of a lack of space some trains had to be stored following commissioning, at MOD Kineton, Cockfosters Depot, and Charing Cross overrun sidings, among other places.

The first run in service was on Christmas Eve 1997, and by July 1998 the 30 or so trains required to work the existing Jubilee Line (to Charing Cross) had been brought into use and so the 1983 tube stock was withdrawn. Delivery of new trains continued; some of these trains only worked on the segregated Stratford–Waterloo section at first, or only entered service after the JLE had been fully opened; and so these trains never worked to Charing Cross in passenger service. Unit 96104 was the last of the original 59 trains to enter service, on 31 July 2001; however, this was considerably later than the majority of the fleet.

Most of the withdrawn 1983 tube stock’s Batch II units were initially stored in depots and sidings around the Underground system, pending what could have been a total rebuild and incorporation into Piccadilly Line trains, various other options; however none of these happened and they have gone—or are destined—for scrap.


1996 stock trains, like their 1995 stock counterparts, were originally made up of two three-car units coupled back-to-back, each comprising three cars: a Driving Motor, a Trailer, and an Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor. Since the end of 2005 they have included an additional Special Trailer car — see The 7-car project for details.

The 1996 stock’s design was “frozen” in 1991, so the technology dates from then; this explains the earlier delivery than the 1995 stock, and the technical differences found between the two. These trains use Gate Turn-Off Thyristors to control the supply of electric current to the traction motors, the system being very similar to Connex’s Networker trains — the “gear-changing” noise can be heard as the train accelerates from rest. In common with the other recent tube stocks, carriages are equipped with externally-hung air-operated doors, perch seats near the central door standbacks (the Northern trains have tip-up seats there), car-end windows, digital voice-announcements, plus in-car and platform-to-train CCTV.

[PHOTO: 1996 stock running in daylight: 66kB]

Above: A southbound Jubilee Line train, headed by unit number 96027, runs the 600 metres to Finchley Road from West Hampstead; the latter is visible beyond the rear of the train. (Friday 8 January 1999, after the morning peak.)

At the left of this photo can be seen the northbound Jubilee with a trailing connection from the northbound Metropolitan track to its left; this has since been removed, and plain track inserted in the Jubilee’s rails. The cream-coloured bars which appear alongside each motor bogie on this stock are the positive shoebeams, and each contains a pneumatic motor for lifting the pick-up shoe in response to the Train Operator pressing a button in the cab.

Note the “exclamation-mark” board in the foreground, facing northbound Jubilee Line drivers: if the passenger emergency alarm is activated, the driver will stop if he can still see one of these boards, otherwise he will continue to the next station where (as the sticker says) “help can be more easily given”. Since this photograph was taken, a new type of signage known as “count-up markers” was introduced throughout the system (except on the JLE), though the old can still be seen in many locations. The new type consists of an ascending sequence of of single white numerals on light blue backgrounds, which have been placed beyond each platform to give the Train Operator an indication of how many cars have left the platform. Their official description is Station Limit Marker.


The main cause of the overspend/overrun of the the Jubilee Line Extension project was the complete failure of the installation of a new moving-block signalling system, and subsequent hasty replacement by conventional signals prior to opening. It took a further decade to select, design, install, commission and test a new (nearly)-moving-block signalling system, which had to be done during engineering closures.

The new signalling system, made by Alcatel, is called Transmission-Based Train Control (TBTC); it works by having central computers which continuously talk with each train via a pair of wires laid on the track between the running-rails. Under TBTC, each train can be driven manually to a target-speed and target-point described on the Train Operator’s Display; or the computer can drive the train itself, in Automatic Train Operation (ATO) mode.

Until 2011 the trains were always driven manually, but by the start of 2011 the line was running under both TBTC and ATO between Stratford and Dollis Hill. Since 26 June 2011, the entire line has been operating under TBTC and ATO, and thus the new 3rd platform at Stanmore entered revenue service from that date.

Stratford Market Depot

The 1996 stock is now based at the state-of-the-art Stratford Market depot at the eastern end of the JLE. In older depots access to the underside of trains is gained by the construction of depot roads with a pit between the rails, in which staff can stand upright beneath the train. These aren’t the best solution in some cases, and don’t comply with current safety legislation. At Stratford Market Depot the “swimming-pool” type was used, in which the floor-level around the tracks is lowered, leaving the rails supported by a line of pillars. A shallow pit (about 1 foot deep) between the rails allows staff to work beneath and to either side of the train at comfortable heights throughout. The disadvantage is of course that the train’s interior and its upper bodywork can only be accessed by ladder systems, as can be seen below.

[PHOTO: 1996 stock in depot: 154kB]

Above: A train headed by ‘A’-end unit 96064 receives attention on road 39 at Stratford Market Depot. Note the yellow light showing in the left-hand tail lamp: this is the calling-on light, which on this stock alone has no separate luminaire of its own. It illuminates in steady mode automatically when an OPO Alarm has been sent, or manually by a switch in the cab; it also comes on in flashing mode whenever the train is in slow-speed driving modes. (25 August 2006)

The 7-car project

When the 1996 stock and the Jubilee Line Extension were built, provision was made in each for the addition of a seventh car to trains at a later date. The section of line between Stanmore and Charing Cross had already been served by 7-car trains of 1972 MkII tube stock previously, although these were slightly shorter on account of lesser car-lengths.

In 2005, with ridership on the Jubilee Line soaring, and with moving-block signalling still a few years away (2009, so we were told!), the addition of the seventh car was implemented; this would immediately increase line-capacity by 17%.

Many “enabling works” were carried out: extension of reversing-sidings, relocation of platform-end barriers and stopping-marks, adjustment of signal locations and track circuit berths, and so on.

59 new cars, designated Special Trailer, were delivered to Stratford Market Depot. These carry neither motors nor compressor, indeed they are fitted with a concrete block as ballast. They are numbered 96601 to 96717, odd numbers only as they belong to D-end units. They form the third car of each D unit, so trains are now formed thus:


Approaching Christmas 2005, services on the Jubilee Line were gradually thinned out as fewer trains became available: they were being stopped for conversion to 7-car formation. Between Christmas and New Year 2005/2006, the Jubilee Line was fully shut down for a couple of days whilst the final infrastructure changes were made, Platform-Edge Doors re-configured, and many trains fitted with the extra car. Services resumed ahead of schedule and with minimal problems, and in the following days the remainder of the fleet received the Special Trailer car; service levels were ramped up to full accordingly.

Wouldn’t the 7-car trains be slower with no extra motors? The answer is no, because the 1996 stock’s traction package has its performance limited by a function within its software. It was a simple matter of reconfiguring the software to allow propulsion of a 7-car train with the same performance as it had been doing with a 6-car train. In fact, the propulsion systems were still restricted – albeit less so – and have only been fully utilised since ATO was introduced (just like with the 1992 stock’s High Performance Operating upgrade).

With plans then in motion for the new signalling system, it made sense to combine the order for the Special Trailers with an order for some extra trains: a greater train-frequency requires more trains! And so four whole 7-car trains were built (units 96119 to 96126, none of them de-icing). These entered service around January 2006.

The Special Trailers and the four new trains are virtually identical in appearance to the original fleet, even carrying “1996” legends on the step-plates in the doorways. However, a couple of improvements have been made to comply fully with the Disability Discrimination Act: the floors have textured black lino instead of smooth grey in the doorway areas, and the saloon interior displays are coloured orange instead of red.


[PHOTO: 1996 stock interior, in tube: 53kB]

Above: This view (taken between North Greenwich and the tube mouths at Canning Town, for what it’s worth!) is rather dominated by the bright and cheerful fluorescent lighting that runs the length of the car ceiling; the atmosphere is not oppressive in the way that may be suggested by the photograph! I can’t be all that complimentary about the aquamarine greeny-blue colour used in some of the mouldings and in the seating-moquette design — perhaps it’s just a matter of personal taste. Grab-rails abound in yellow rather than in the grey of the Line colour; like on the 1995 stock, this is probably both in deference to partially-sighted users, and because given the Line colour it would have been most unpleasant if used on the grab rails!

Not really visible in this view are the perch seats in part of the centre area (the 1995 stock has tip-up seats at this point); simple but very clear Digital Voice announcements are made in conjunction with scrolling LED displays to give users advance information of the next station and the train’s destination.

Comparison with 1995 stock

1995 and 1996 stocks side-by-side in depot, daytime: 66kB]

Above: This view from 1999, which is highly unlikely to be seen again, shows 1996 stock (on the left) alongside 1995 stock in Ruislip depot. At this stage, both trains had been delivered by rail to Ruislip depot and were being fitted out prior to transfer (by pilot units of 1962 stock) to their home depots, Neasden (at the time) and Golders Green respectively. Closer frontal views of 1996 stock appear elsewhere on this page, and one of 1995 stock appears here. Of note are a miniature fork-lift trolley by the Jubilee train, and an automatic coupler unit sitting on a pallet in the foreground.

Although the two types have the same basic bodyshell design, some detail differences are visible from this angle. The most obvious is that the the front cab (‘M’) door is different. Northern Line trains (on the right) have a conventional door and handle, and open inwards; a separate fold-out staircase is fitted into position to allow passengers to detrain to the track in emergency. With 1996 stock (on the left) however, the M door hinges at its bottom to open outwards, where steps slide out to form integral detraining stairs; this accounts for the door’s window being smaller than on the Northern’s stock. Another difference is that the space occupied by the Jubilee’s M-door release handle (low down on left) has been used for the orange-LED calling-on lamp on the Northern-Line stock.

In the driving cab

[PHOTO: 1996 cab, general view in daylight: 54kB]

The 1995/1996 stock cabs are the most well-appointed and spacious tube-stock cabs to date. There are some differences between the two with the ‘M’ door layout (discussed above and below), and the location of certain secondary switches and displays, but the general idea is very similar. The Train Operator’s seat is adjustable for height and longitudinal position, and his hands fall naturally to the controls. His right arm rests on the shiny black armrest and he operates the red handle, which is a fore/aft Traction Brake Controller (TBC); this, as it suggests, controls all accelerating and braking of the train, as well as incorporating a deadman device. This armrest-type TBC was first used on the 1992 tube stock and appears in a similar form on these stocks.

The driver’s windscreen is of flat missile-resistant glass, and the small oblong window to his left is for lining the train up with stopping-markers placed on the tunnel walls (or on platform-edge doors or railings) in stations; next to this can be seen the multi-purpose handset through which the Operator speaks when using the Public Address, Train Radio, Passenger Emergency-Alarm Talkback, or Cab-to-Cab phone.

[PHOTO: 1996 cab, over-shoulder-of-driver view, front door open: 56kB]

Right: As we peer over the Train Operator’s shoulder, we can see that he has in his line of sight a pair of screens in the console. One or both (depending upon the station) of these One Person Operation (OPO) monitors will display the view on the platform to him from the moment he presses the Door Open buttons when stopped, until the rear car of his train leaves the platform; these screens replace the platform-mounted mirrors and CCTV monitors previously used on (and all since removed from) the Jubilee Line.

On the right-hand wall of the cab (not yet illustrated) is a back-lit LCD screen which allows the Train Management System (TMS) to give information and warnings to the Train Operator. His left hand falls naturally onto a keypad (seen in the horizontal white surround) by which he can control the TMS, issuing instructions for the Digital Voice Announcer, setting various parameters and responding to alarm conditions. (On 1995 stock, one of the two screens in front of the Train Operator is the TMS display and the other the OPO monitor, whereas both screens on 1996 stock are for OPO-monitor use only. This duality of monitors is probably a design feature to allow a train with one defective OPO monitor to continue in service; 1995 stock has a “monitor swap” switch, presumably with just such an eventuality in mind.) Three rows of buttons on the left wall control the on-board communications systems.

Note the ‘M’ door open in “detrainment” mode (hinged at its base), the detraining steps slid into position, and the trackwork visible beyond. The Traction Brake Controller is in its Stowed position, but when in use the red handle (centre of photograph) would be held 90 degrees round to the right by way of deadman protection.

[PHOTO: 1996 cab, close-up over-shoulder-of-driver view: 55kB]

Left: This closer view clearly shows the One Person Operation (platform view) screens; either side of these are the door operation buttons. At top left is an emergency stop button which, when pressed, breaks the round-the-train electrical circuit; this in turn breaks the safety circuit and applies the emergency brakes (the deadman device and the leading tripcock are also in the safety circuit).

At top right is the train’s air-reservoir gauge which has no numbers, only coloured zones to denote the pressure status. Above the OPO screens are the twin ATO start buttons, some indicator lamps (including the Accurate Stop lamp which illuminates when the train successfully “docks” with the platform), and the linear speedometer. This has gradations in both mph and kph, having a yellow Actual Speed indication above a red Target Speed readout: both consist of a line of small LEDs which form a bar-chart, with lower values towards the left-hand end.

Starting in late 2007, the speedometers in the fleet were replaced by TFT screens which show current speed as a bar-chart, and which display other information relating to the new TBTC signalling-system being introduced on the Jubilee Line.

All three of these views were taken on the same occasion as that below; the car involved probably being 96010 (can any reader provide confirmation?).

Detrainment steps and the ‘M’ door

[PHOTO: 1996 stock's detrainment steps on display: 50kB]

The ‘M’ door on the 1996 tube stock is unique, as it can be opened in two entirely different modes: inward-opening (for staff access between train and track, or detraining between one train and another), and detrainment (for evacuation of passengers from train to track).

In detrainment mode, as seen here, the ‘M’ door hinges down, having been released by a catch inside the cab, and a telescopic arrangement of stairs slides into place. The door is suspended by plastic-coated steel cables which double as handrails (of sorts – they aren’t as good as the solution used on the 1973 stock).

Left: In Rickmansworth sidings at Steam On The Met 1999, this Jubilee Line train shows off its novel detraining system.

[PHOTO: 1996 stock in depot with front door opening: 110kB]

Right: Here we can see the ‘M’ door in the process of being deployed in its passenger detrainment mode, i.e. outwards to form a staircase to track level. This can only be activated from inside the cab, and part of the door system is pushed outwards against a spring, before lowering under gravity with hydraulic dampers into the deployed position. (25 August 2006)

[PHOTO: 1996 stock in depot with front door open: 160kB]

Left: Here we see the ‘M’ door’s other method of operation, its inward-opening mode, which can be activated either by operating a pair of handles inside the cab, or the external emergency-access lever found behind the flap below the offside headlight. Once operated in this mode, the door behaves like an aircraft’s plug door: it is pulled or pushed inwards on trunnions for nearly a foot, before a locking bar is released and it can pivot on its hinges to the open position as illustrated. This mechanism must have looked good on paper, but it is cumbersome and fragile in the flesh, so much so that the ‘M’ door may only be opened after gaining authority from the Controller. Some years ago this writer once opened it otherwise, whilst stopped at red signals in the tunnel during a stock-move, and of course the whole mechanism broke leaving the door jammed partly open; delay to the train service behind was avoided, however.

Note the detrainment lights, situated inboard of either tail light, which automatically illuminate whenever the ‘M’ door is not fully closed (in either mode). This view is of 96031 which is a ‘D’-end unit; this means it faces South/East (towards Stratford), is now a 4-car unit, and carries an odd number. On the nearside end of the headstock can be seen the 7-car project sticker. (25 August 2006)