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Monday, June 12, 2006

Keeping Cool on the London Underground

Not feeling so hot at Victoria?

London Underground in the Summer?If you travel through Victoria regularly, see if you notice it not being so hot this summer. It's been a scorching weekend in London and the coming week looks set to be just as hot, so it's time for the Tube to issue the annual press release to address the hot weather.

This time it's more than the usual one about carrying a bottle of water. Now there's "an innovative groundwater cooling trial at Victoria Tube station."

Master of understatement and LU Managing Director Tim O'Toole said: "We know it can get hot in the Tube in summer." Really?

"As in previous years, we'll be taking measures and offering advice to passengers on how to try and stay cool on the Tube." Yeah, yeah, like the poster says carry water, get off if you feel hot, stop whinging, blah, blah. I wanted to hear more about the "innovative cooling trial". Several paragraphs later, he stops spinning about "challenges", "long term answers", "solutions", yada, yada and we finally get to the section about the trial.

Apparently for the last year a dedicated team have been working on "solutions" that will help cool the Tube down.

"Research has been undertaken to look at passenger comfort levels, understand the physiological effects of heat and predict future temperature increases.

The dedicated team has completed a survey of 200 stations and ventilation plant rooms to understand the extent of heat at specific stations so that engineering solutions can be targeted at sections of the network where the problem of heat is most acute

Victoria station appears to have acute heat problems and from the summer will be on the receiving end of "an environmentally friendly cooling system for the Victoria line platforms and will use groundwater which is already pumped out of the station." So here comes the science bit "The water supply which has a temperature of around 12C will be pumped through a network of pipes to feed three heat exchange units on the concourse area between the Victoria line platforms.

The heat exchange units have fans which will draw in the warm station air and through heat exchange with the pumped water will supply cooled air to the concourse area and the movement of trains will spread this cooled air to the platform area

Beat the heatCool. Well, er will it be? It remains to be seen whether it will actually work and already Tim O'Toole is hedging his bets. He said "Some passengers may notice a small difference this summer but we know that there is a lot more to do and it will take many years to cool the Tube."

Don't feel left out if you don't use Victoria (although you'll have a two year wait), as from 2009 new trains for the sub-surface lines (District, Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith) will come with air-cooling. Apparently "refurbished District line trains also now benefit from improved ventilation". Can't say I've noticed, but if it's in an TfL press release it must be true!

So aside from carrying around water, not pulling the passenger alarm between stations but getting off early if you feel too hot, do you have any tips for keeping cool on the Tube? Or have you seen any other passengers with "innovative" cooling ideas?

; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, June 12, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE