TfL tests cooling system to reduce temperatures on Tube platforms after heatwave

Cooling panels used in the trial at Holborn station Credit: TfL

Transport for London is testing a new cooling system to lower temperatures for London Underground passengers on hot days.

If the trial is successful and funding is secured, it will be extended to five deep stations on the Piccadilly line; Green Park, Holborn, Knightsbridge, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

In the longterm, it could be rolled out across the Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City lines.  

The cooling panels work by circulating cold water around pipework within a curved metal structure, while an industrial-sized fan circulates air through gaps in the panels.

It comes as the UK experienced its hottest temperatures on record on Tuesday and London Underground recorded a sharp drop in passengers as commuters opted to work from home.

Cooling panels being used in the trial at Holborn station Credit: TfL

The system is currently being tested by workers at a disused platform at Holborn station and the next stage will see it being used on passengers at Knightsbridge.

Engineers monitoring the prototypes in lab conditions saw temperatures drop by 10 to 15 degrees.

By 2025, Piccadilly line trains will be replaced with air-conditioned trains with walk-through carriages, as the number of trains running per hour will increase to 27 by 2027.

Paul Judge, TfL's Project Director for the Piccadilly Line Upgrade, said the new technology could play help protect the network against future temperature increases and "keep staff and customers safe and comfortable".

"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," he said.

A thermal image of the cooling panel Credit: TfL

"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."

Funded by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK, the trial is part of the government's TIES Living Lab programme, a collaboration of 25 partners focusing on 10 infrastructure, data research and digital demonstrator projects.

TfL's ongoing battle with the government over a longterm funding plan is set to be reviewed on Friday 28 July after the network secured another short-term funding extension last week.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...