TfL trialling ‘innovative’ cooling system on Tube platforms following heatwave

·2-min read
 (TfL)
(TfL)

TfL has begun trials of an innovative new cooling system for deep-level Tube line platforms which it hopes could bring down temperatures for passengers and reduce maintenance costs.

It comes as record-high temperatures of 40C on Tuesday brought widespread disruption to London’s transport network, with stations closed and many services delayed or cancelled.

How does it work?

The new platform cooling system, being developed by TfL, involves the use of “state of the art” cooling panels, which work by circulating cold water around pipework within a curved metal structure, while industrial-sized fans circulate air around the structure which, in turn, produces a chilling effect.

Trials are currently being conducted on a disused platform at Holborn station, with plans in place to expand the trial to an active platform at Knightsbridge station.

Tests in a lab environment have seen the cooling panels achieve temperature reductions of between 10C and 15C, which TfL hopes to replicate at Holborn.

Following the completion of further trials, TfL is aiming to install the cooling panels at five stations on the Piccadilly Line – Knightsbridge, Holborn, Green Park, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus – in preparation for a fleet upgrade on the line in 2025 which would see the frequency of services increase to 27 trains per hour.

The cooling system trial at Holborn (TfL)
The cooling system trial at Holborn (TfL)

TfL has said it hopes the new cooling panels could cut operational and maintenance costs of cooling the Tube network by 50 per cent compared to current methods.

Paul Judge, TfL’s project director for the Piccadilly Line upgrade, said the new technology could “play an important role in ensuring we are doing everything we can to protect TfL’s network against future temperature increases” by keeping passengers and staff “safe and comfortable”.

A cooling panel (TfL)
A cooling panel (TfL)

He said: “The cooling panel project is supporting the Piccadilly Line Upgrade, which will see new state-of-the-art trains with more space, air-conditioning, walk-through carriages and improved accessibility running at greater frequencies on the line.

“By seeking innovative solutions to cool platforms on the deep Tube network, we will be able to support future Piccadilly line train frequency increases with the possibility that the technology could be used on other Underground lines.”

A thermal image of the cooling panel (TfL)
A thermal image of the cooling panel (TfL)

Though the project has received 70 per cent of its funding from the Department for Transport, TfL has said the expansion of trials and rollout of the technology on other Tube lines would be dependent on securing a long-term funding deal from the Government.

TfL officials have until 28 July to hash out a new funding agreement with the Department for Transport following a second short-term extension to the existing bailout earlier this month.

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