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SRC Infrastructure Cools London's Underground Metro System

Updated: Jul 22, 2022

The TIES Living Lab

The construction sector is currently, and will continue, witnessing an unprecedented investment in infrastructure projects. The pace of this growth, and the size of this opportunity, demands a construction sector that is the best in the world. To maximise efficiency savings across the delivery of the transport infrastructure pipeline, the TIES Living Lab sponsored by Innovate UK and the Department for Transport was established and is bringing together key UK Transport Client groups, suppliers and academic experts to build capability within delivery, innovation and managing construction risk. SRC Infrastructure is very proud to have collaborated with our TfL colleagues in the Piccadilly Line Upgrade programme to play a key role in the TIES Living Lab.

TIES Living Lab offers a strategic, scalable and sector wide approach with Government, client groups, suppliers and academia working in partnership. Together, we collaborate to tackle the systemic issues that still obstruct the use, integration and adoption of innovations that could drive productivity and wider social benefits through major construction schemes. It will be a catalyst for cultural change, shifting focus within infrastructure delivery decision-making from the costs of construction to an understanding of its whole life value.

SRC Infrastructure is one of the 25 partners alongside NSAR Ltd, Bryden Wood Technology Ltd, Costain Ltd, Office for National Statistics, Whole Life Consultants Ltd, Accelar Ltd, Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, Kier Construction ltd, Akerlof Ltd, X-Treme Systems Ltd, Expedition Engineering Ltd, Walker Construction Ltd, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd, Social Profit Calculator Ltd, Powercube Ltd (Part of the Mavin Group), Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, Transport for London, Highways England Ltd, East West Railway Company Ltd, University of Dundee, University of the West of England, and the University of Leeds. The project is funded via a grant from Innovate UK through the Transforming Construction programme plus contributions from the Department for Transport, HS2, Transport for London (TfL) and Highways England.

SRC Infrastructure is proud to be a part of the TIES Living Lab and TfL’s Piccadilly Line Upgrade programme. Together, with our other partners and collaborators, we are committed to working hard to:

  1. Improve the way transport Infrastructure projects are set up to maximise value,​

  2. Achieve better assurance of project value and what assets should cost across the transport infrastructure sector,

  3. Accelerate the wider adoption of demonstrators that transform productivity within construction using benchmark intelligence,​

  4. Establish the TIES Living Lab as a catalyst for cultural change by identifying drivers of cost, evidencing the potential of the sector to move beyond the state-of-the-art to reduce cost, increase productivity and social benefits through major construction schemes, and embedding this evidence.

Pat Keegan, SRC's Executive Director of Engineering, says “It’s fantastic to be playing a key role in TIES. Our team is working with all our partners to change the way that transport infrastructure programmes are delivered. That’s a really great challenge and now, as we work together to build back better, a particularly urgent one.”

The Cooling Panel

SRC Infrastructure has been responsible for the development and proving of an innovative approach to cooling the Tube network. To facilitate the introduction of new Tube stock on the Piccadilly line, a cooling assessment was undertaken which identified a need for additional cooling. The existing approach to cooling, the PAHU system (Platform Air Handling Units) has not coped with the harsh environmental conditions. SRC Infrastructure and TfL prototyped and developed more effective and reliable cooling solution which has been trialed at a disused platform at Holborn Station and delivered great results.

The temperature on the London Underground has increased significantly over the years; in fact, it was once considered a place to cool down in London! With the Piccadilly Line Upgrade bringing more passengers and trains to the network, an innovative-platform cooling technique is essential. The existing PAHU system has struggled to operate effectively, experiencing a build up of tunnel dust over the years, which has significantly decreased its efficiency, as well as face general installation and maintenance challenges.

SRC and TfL's new cooling technology mitigates these issues; the cooling panel is a modular design, with minimal dust build up and easy access to the fan, making them generally more maintainable. A 60% whole life cost saving to TfL is predicted over a 40-year-lifetime.

The new cooling panel design is constructed from custom extrusions of aluminum that are welded together. The design allows air to flow uniformly through the panel, parallel to the water flow. By having the water flow parallel with the air, efficient heat transfer can be obtained while not providing pockets for dust to get caught and build up. The single repeating extrusion profile means the panels can vary in width, meaning they can be formed to meet the site requirements easily. There are also no active components of the panel installed over the track, meaning the cool air is outputted directly onto the platform.

The results of the trial of the new panel have been very positive - the trial panel currently installed in Holborn has a predicted cooling power of 9-12kW, outperforming the current cooling solutions used on the London Underground. SRC has supported TfL in developing a more efficient cooling method for the London Undergound that could improve customer experience, reduce whole life costs and improve the ease of maintenance for TfL.

Anthony Adamson, project leader for the TIES Living Lab Cooling Panels and Portfolio Delivery Manager, SRC Infrastructure and project said, “After years of being a Londoner and commuting on the tube, I am delighted to be part of this brand new tech solution designed to cool the airflow on platforms which will vastly improving the travel experience for passengers like me”.



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