It is not only buildings that require air conditioning; other spaces also have a requirement to be cooled. One example is trains and the facilities within which they operate. A notable example of this is on London’s Underground system where a £1.5 million trial is evaluating the viability of reducing temperatures on the deep tube network.

The trial, which is taking place on a disused platform at Holborn station, aims to cool passengers waiting on platforms as well as mitigating temperature rises that inevitably arise when running more trains on the Piccadilly line as part of the line’s future capacity upgrade.

The cooling equipment comprises a series of tubes with cold water around them with fins connecting the heat out, and fans blow air through that heat like a car radiator.

Initially, however, a problem had to be solved in order for the system to operate effectively. The fins were extremely close together and dust and detritus would accumulate there, obstructing the air passage and causing stagnation points. This, in turn, caused the system to lock up.

The new system has the same operating principles as the original design – the circulation of cold water around pipework within a curved metal structure to chill it with a fan. However, the coil was reconfigured to ensure the unrestricted passage of air.

Reduced maintenance costs

Tony Ridley, senior engineer at TfL, told Rail Technology magazine, a big benefit of the redesigned system is that it has cut maintenance costs in half: “We’ve got access now over the platform so we could clean it up much more easily than having to get a scaffolding put over the track, which is more costly and requires more civil works to get up there.”

The investment in the tube’s air conditioning system is expected to significantly aid in the signaling of the Piccadilly line and unlock over £4 million worth of efficiency savings.

However, the stations themselves are not the only focus for the HVAC sector. Although the environment in the stations is important, it is also critical that the trains themselves are kept cool.

Tube trains of the future

New London Underground trains costing £1.5 billion will be launched on the Piccadilly line in 2025. Described as the ‘tube trains of the future’, the 94 Siemens-built Inspiro London trains were ordered in 2018 to replace the existing locomotives from the 1970s.

The major upgrade will see this new generation of London Underground trains going into service with innovative new features. Transport for London has revealed the trains will have air conditioning, better accessibility, and walk-through carriages. They will also be more spacious in general.

The air conditioning will create a much more pleasant environment for passengers, especially in summer, when the temperature on the Underground can reach an uncomfortable 47°C in a heatwave.

Air conditioning servicing for TFL

London Underground is one of LH-plc’s largest customers with the company servicing and repairing the air conditioning inside the trains, mainly the drivers’ cabs.

LH-plc’s cutting-edge railway air conditioning refurbishment and servicing centre in Wimbledon, south-west London combines state-of-the-art facilities with well-qualified and experienced engineers to offer an exceptional service that is both reliable and offers premier quality.

The company – which carries out work on behalf of many of the major UK rail carriers as well as the London Underground tube operators – employs a highly skilled team of specialist engineers boasting more than 30 years’ experience in this specialist sector, having developed extensive knowledge and unique engineering skills focused on the requirements of railway air conditioning systems.

For more information about LH’s railway air conditioning services, click here.