London weather: Central Line found to be hotter than body temperature

The mercury hit 36.6C between Mile End and Stratford, finds Simon Calder

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 26 July 2019 10:09
Comments
Enough to make your blood boil: London's Central line is hotter than average body temperature

“First mover” is not always an advantage. London has the world’s oldest underground railway, which means that it is built to Victorian, rather than 21st-century, standards of comfort.

The deep-level Tubes operate through narrow tunnels with limited ventilation.

The longest Tube line on the network is the Central, which runs through London from West Ruislip in the west to Epping in the east. Ominously, it is coloured red.

I set off from White City – travelling from the west, the last above-ground station before the stretch beneath the heart of London – to Stratford, where the Central Line emerges for air.

Before I boarded, I checked the temperature on the platform. As I did so, it clicked up from 32.9 to 33C, three degrees above the 30C maximum stipulated by the European Union for transporting cattle, sheep and pigs over long distances.

Once the train dived underground towards Shepherd’s Bush, the heat increased relentlessly.

When, in June, I set out to find London’s warmest Tube line, the highest temperature was on the Jubilee Line – with temperatures in trains on the stretch between Bond Street and Baker Street reaching 33.4C.

This was swiftly beaten even while the train was temporarily stuck in the tunnel before Shepherd’s Bush.

The carriage was almost empty – partly because there was a train just in front, but also because people had evidently taken note of the many invocations not to travel.

The central station on the Central Line is Oxford Circus. By now the temperature on train was 36.4C. On the platform, the heat dwindled a few tenths of a degree, and felt a lot more comfortable because of the breezes generated by the trains passing through.

But the trains are also the villains: they generate heat from their electric engines, and the friction as they move through the air also increases the temperature.

The biggest source of surplus heat, though, is generated when the trains brake.

A possible solution, then, would be drastically to slow down the trains. But that would lead to more crowding, with the extra human heat thus generated, and longer journeys to endure.

A better fix would be to improve the signal management so they do not use extra braking to stop between stations.

That, I imagine, was one reason that then temperature continued to rise even when the Central Line left Zone 1 and headed out into the suburbs.

Even after Mile End – a relatively airy station, where the Central Line meets the “sub-surface” District Line – the temperature rose to 36.6C, or 97.9F.

How hot is that? Afterwards I took a professional NHS temperature test, and learnt my body temperature was 36.5C.

The Tube, eh? Enough to make your blood boil.

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