Latest Rail News

27.06.17

LU to monitor air pollution and deep clean 50 stations over summer

A series of new measures will be rolled out to minimise dust levels on the Underground network while around 50 stations and five tunnel sections will be cleaned this summer with industrial vacuums and magnetic ‘wands’, all to ensure passengers travel in the cleanest environment possible.

The capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has ordered a review of air pollution levels on the Tube network as part of a wide-ranging effort to crack down on the impact of filthy air in London.

Tests are due to be carried out at more than a dozen Tube stations to calculate how dust levels change at different times and locations, with air quality results expected to be published on the TfL website.

Around 50 stations and five tunnel sections will also be deep cleaned with industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic ‘wands’ over the coming months in order to collect metal particles and ensure walls are wiped clean of dust, oil and grease.

Last month, for example, London Metropolitan University research found that the capital’s transport – including Underground lines, taxi cabs and buses – host a number of bacteria, including nine antibiotic-resistant strands said to pose the greatest threat to human health.

The dirties lines were Victoria, Circle and Piccadilly, all of which house 20 or more bacteria types, including “some of the world’s most dangerous superbugs” as well as other forms of mould and bacteria that can be harmful to human health.

“Air quality is one of the biggest health challenges of this generation and I'm committed to doing everything in my power to tackle it both above and below ground. I've introduced new measures to lower emissions from cars and buses, and it is now time to focus on wider sources of pollution including the Tube, river transport and construction sites,” Khan explained yesterday.

“Tube staff and the millions of passengers who use the Underground regularly deserve to breathe the cleanest air possible. TfL’s new Underground air quality programme will help ensure dust and particles are kept to an absolute minimum.

“But I want to leave no stone unturned and I've also asked for an updated scientific analysis of pollution on the Tube so we can fully assess the air quality levels and take appropriate measures to ensure that the air is clean.”

Mark Wild, London Underground’s managing director, said dust levels have been monitored on the Tube for many years through a wide range of measures to ensure they stay “well within” the Health and Safety Executive guidelines.

But as “scientific understanding of the effects of particles develops”, TfL will ensure that it’s using the “very latest research and that we’re doing everything possible to keep the air underground clean for our customers and staff”.

So far, the mayor and TfL have more than doubled resources available to tackle air quality, with £875m earmarked over the next five years to reduce vehicle emissions, launch the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2019, and clean the capital’s public transport fleets.

(Top image c. Tim Ireland, PA Images)

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