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Monday 1 November 2010

Getting Hot In The Tunnels

There may be a lesson for London from as far away as Barcelona, and that is to do with metros. London’s Underground is replacing all of the fleets that at present run on its Sub Surface Lines (SSLs), a process that will run until 2016. The new trains, replacing three builds of stock dating from 1961 to 1978, will feature air conditioning.

Barcelona’s Metro system has also been putting air conditioned trains into service recently, and the on board environment is very pleasant as a result. But there is one additional feature I noticed a few times today, and that is a rush of warm air on entering many of the busier stations.

This is, of course, not a scientific study, and only has my last visit to the city, in late 2006, as comparison. But the thought has entered that all that heat removed via the air conditioning process may be displaced into the tunnels and stations. And there is a similarity between the two cities’ systems.

The Underground SSLs and their Barcelona counterparts run, for the most part, in double track tunnels which are not far below ground. And the number of trains running through the below ground part of the SSLs is much greater over time, so there will be more excess heat from air conditioning systems to get rid of.

So that’s one to watch. There’s no turning back – the order has been placed and the first of London’s new trains have already arrived.

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