Could This Be The Tube Cooling Solution That We’ve Been Searching For?

Your days of sweating through your shirt on your way to work may be coming to an end. TfL is currently in the process of trialling a new Tube cooling system to cool down the deep Tube network. The state-of-the-art cooling panel is currently on trial at a disused platform at Holborn Tube station. The tests will determine if the cooling solution might be appropriate for the deep Tube network, across the Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City lines.

The cooling panel testing comes in the wake of the UK’s heatwave last week. It will make platforms more comfortable and prevent possible temperature increases in the tunnels. When the testing is over, the cooling panels would be installed at Knightsbridge first to see how they perform with actual customers on the platform. The plan after that is to install them at four more stations on the Piccadilly line (Green Park, Holborn, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus). Following that, TfL aims to identify which other stations would also benefit from the cooling panels.

A picture of the empty Holborn station where the cooling panels are being trialed
The cooling panels undergoing testing at Holborn. Photo: Luca Marino Copyright TfL

Why the Piccadilly line?

New trains are on their way to the Piccadilly line in 2025. Accompanying the new and improved carriages will be an increase in the number of trains servicing the line. More trains means higher temperatures in the tunnels and on the platforms. Since the new trains will have air-conditioned carriages, travel across the Piccadilly line would see an incredible increase in comfort with the Tube cooling panels also in place.

Prior tests with the cooling panel have seen the potential to reduce temperatures by 10-15 degrees. And given the cost and difficulty of installation of other cooling solutions, the panels are looking like the way forward.

Some science-y looking stuff that proves the Underground cooling panels will work
A thermal image of the cooling panel. Photo: Luca Marino Copyright TfL

Paul Judge, TfL’s Project Director for the Piccadilly Line Upgrade, had the following to say:

This innovative trial is taking place as we are experiencing record high temperatures. This new technology could play an important role in ensuring we are doing everything we can to protect TfL’s network against future temperature increases, helping to keep staff and customers safe and comfortable.

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.

It looks like those commutes to work, and journeys across London, could be getting a whole lot more comfortable.