Wednesday, 1 July 2015

LEDs Needed For London's 24 Hour Tube Service

LEDs are the best choice for carrying out maintenance with the 24 hour underground service coming in September. 

The underground is going to be running 24 hours at weekends on some lines from September. The 'Night Tube' will run fully on the Jubilee and Victoria line and on most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern line. It has been largely supported by underground users who believe that it will make travelling home at night much safer, quicker and reliable. However, having a the tube run all night will create problems for the underground's engineers. 

How will they maintain the lighting if they have less time to access it? The answer is simple, LEDs. With the longer lifetime of LEDs meaning less maintenance and the energy savings they bring it would be silly not to install them in the London underground. 

Bob Benn, head of stations engineering at Transport for London has stated that, 'The 24-hour tube will have a significant impact on maintenance, particularly on some of our central London stations. It means we are going to have to concentrate our maintenance on Sunday to Thursday evenings. We have to re-plan a lot of our maintenance activities to fit everything into those five days.' 

Hopefully by making the lighting LED, there will be less changes, meaning lighting will not need as much maintaining as other areas. As LEDs can be wiped clean using a pole from the platform without being damaged they will be much cheaper and quicker to clean. In addition to this, due to their extended lifetime they will need to be replaced much less often, unlike fluorescent tubes.

When speaking at the lighting for rail conference last week, Benn suggested that LED lighting could be an answer to the question of underground lighting, 'When we consider the use of new lighting technology, a significant factor is how much maintenance we need to do. From a business case point of view that's one of the advantages of things like LED, in terms of lamp life and how much we need to access the fittings. It's not just about energy saving, we look at the whole-life cost.' 

More and more LED lights are being installed in the underground, including retrofit tubes and new luminaries in redeveloped stations and now the extended lifetime is really starting to pay off. 

The London underground is in the middle of a £5.5 billion investment programme which will mean there will be lighting upgrades and improvements in some of the busiest underground stations. There is also a further improvement programme in the planning phases. 

Benn said that, 'there will be significant opportunities to change the lighting technology and also change the total ambience of the station and the environment.' 

This blog post was adapted from Lux magazine article, 'How LEDs are helping to make London's 24-hour Tube possible' 29th June 2015

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