Transport for London (TfL) to clean up its act on the Tube with industrial vacuums and "magnetic wands"

Rebecca Smith
TfL also plans to learn from other metros around the world on dust management
TfL also plans to learn from other metros around the world on dust management (Source: Getty)

Remember that study saying disease-causing bacteria is lurking on the Tube more than any other form of transport in London?

Well, Transport for London (TfL) is planning new measures to clean up the London Underground - on the air quality front anyway - focusing on minimising dust levels to help passengers, and staff, breathe in as clean air as possible. Including wheeling out some industrial vacuums and magnets to hoover up all that dust.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also set up a new review of air pollution levels on the Tube.

Read more: The official ranking of the hottest Tube lines, according to TfL

With the review, TfL has launched a new air quality action plan to roll out improvements immediately, including:

  • An improved air quality monitoring programme on the Tube network with information made available on TfL's site
  • Testing carried out at over 12 stations to monitor how dust levels change at different times and places
  • Expanded cleaning regime to be rolled out - over the summer nearly 50 stations and five tunnel sections will be cleaned with industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic "wands"
  • Expanding the use of specialist dust suppressants across the network
  • Learning from other metros with the best dust management

A combination of the friction from Tube trains against the rails, air ventilated into the Tube network from above ground, and skin particles from passengers, all contribute to dust on the London Underground.

While previous independent scientific research funded by TfL back in 2004 found the dust on the Tube did not contain components at levels which are likely to pose a risk to the health of passengers or staff, the mayor wants a fresh review as it's more than 10 years on from that research.

Mark Wild, managing director of London Underground, said:

We have been monitoring dust levels on the Tube for many years and, through a wide range of measures, have ensured that particle levels are well within health & safety executive guidelines.

But as scientific understanding of the effects of particles develops, we are ensuring that we’re both using the very latest research and that we’re doing everything possible to keep the air underground clean for our customers and staff.

This summer the mayor will also unveil new plans to crack down on pollution at construction sites, and fund greener vessels on the River Thames.

Read more: Mayor Sadiq Khan plans to cut three million car journeys a day in London

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