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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Water good way to cool down

The thorny issue of how to keep sweaty commuters on the London Underground cool might be a step nearer a solution. Now all that's needed is a summer.

There was no shortage of ideas when Magazine readers were invited last summer to come up with solutions for overheating on the Tube.

Huge bags of frozen peas on top of trains, (the idea of Omri Stephenson), open-top carriages (Richard Miller), or pictures of snowmen to trick passengers (Mark Coates) were just some of the more creative suggestions.

But it was ideas involving water which could now stand a chance of having at least a minor reflection in reality.

One of the schemes being investigated by London Underground involves extracting heat at Victoria Station, transferring it to water which is then pumped out into the Thames.

1. Cold water enters pipes, some from underground rivers
2. Warm air drawn into system
3. Heat is transferred from air to water
4. Cool air sent back to platforms
5. Warm water piped to River Thames

Tube bosses insist that the idea is no panacea, and would only be feasible at certain points on the network. But if successful, it could reduce temperature at Victoria by at least 5 degrees Celsius. Using water is a particularly attractive option because of its easy availability - it has to be pumped out anyway.

Dr Graham Maidment, of South Bank University, who is developing the project with London Underground, says: "It's simple, and sustainable. It's a very low cost, low energy solution, which uses natural resources."

He said environmental indications were that the warm water entering the Thames would have a negligible effect on the river.

Water on the brain

So for seeing that water could be the simple answer to the problem, step forward readers Ed Shore (put coils of cold water through the seats and handrails), Giles Hogben (tanks of cold water for each carriage), Josh Bentley (cool down pumped water using the London Eye), and Phil Fanning (pump water through coils in the Thames for cooling).

The 100,000 prize offered last year by Mayor Ken Livingstone for a solution might not be yours, but a degree of esteem may well be.

As for Julian Burgess's proposed flooding of tunnels and replacement with gondolas, well, not this time. "I'm not sure the Health and Safety Executive would be too keen on that one," a London Underground spokesman says.


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