London Underground Looking at Composites to Reduce Delays

The London Underground has turned to composite materials in search of new ways to improve its service and reduce delays

The underground’s innovation team has led a group of industry experts to explore using materials previously only used in the aerospace industry to construct a commercially viable, lightweight train door.

With the project is in its final stage, the prototype door is currently undergoing structural tests, ensuring that all design and safety regulations are met. The underground say that tube customers could benefit from reduced journey and waiting times on platforms; a saving of 530,000 passenger hours a year. Furthermore, reduction in mechanical stresses in other parts of the door system would reduce the frequency of door-related failures leading to fewer delays.

The total weight saving of using the lighter composite material for doors across a Central line train would be 1.25 tonnes, with huge benefits on train energy consumption and track wear. For London Underground the application of these innovative new doors on the Central line alone would mean savings of over £5 million a year.

In the long term this research will be a push towards lighter trains in the future, which will reduce operating and maintenance costs. The research also offers the potential to see longer doors installed on existing Tube trains, which would reduce boarding and alighting times. For customers this would mean the possibility of increasing the number of trains running on the Tube.