It says something about the state of London's transport network that it's major news that air conditioning is coming to the Tube. However, that is where we are. Here's part of TfL's original gushing press release on the subject:
Passengers will benefit from air conditioning, walk-through carriages, CCTV coverage in each carriage and improved accessibility.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London is the coolest city on the planet and now we're getting the coolest trains too. After decades spent sweltering in tropical conditions on the Tube in just two years time Londoners on the sub surface lines will be able to use the first of these superb trains.
“I can assure passengers who will use them that we hope rather than arriving at their destinations drenched in perspiration they will emerge cool as cucumbers and ready to enjoy all that the capital offers.
"As well as keeping passengers cooler the new trains feel far more spacious, boast the latest CCTV systems and have been designed to make life much easier for disabled passengers. When the full upgrade of our sub surface lines is complete, including the work improving signaling, capacity on these lines will be increased by over 45 per cent, which will mean less crowding and also mean we can cope with the continuing increase in passenger numbers."
Deployment will start in 2010 and run for 5 years, until it covers the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines (approximately 45% of the network). Other lines, due to tunnel width, and air circulation problems still have to be tackled. The Guardian notes a fanciful TfL solution to this challenge:
London Underground is scouring geological maps to find untapped water sources that can be used to cool the hottest stations. It is using water from the river Tyburn to drive cool air through Victoria station. It is also looking at putting blocks of ice underneath train seats that will release chilled air into carriages and is considering putting more industrial fans inside stations after installing 40 of them this summer.
Either way, it doesn't appear that the Northern, Jubilee, Central, Victoria and Piccadilly lines will see air conditioning any time soon - or, for that matter, significant capacity upgrades. Whilst the negotiations over the plugging of the funding gap continue, the Tube has an uncertain future.