London Underground
London Underground

Cooling the Tube Programme

Extracting heat from the London Underground network is a huge and ongoing engineering challenge, especially on the deep tunnel lines. To meet this need, TfL established a dedicated programme to provide a variety of solutions including mid-tunnel ventilation and cooling, station cooling and regenerative braking. Keeping TfL’s customers cool involves developing new technologies, as well as making best use of more traditional approaches.

The Cooling the Tube Programme required the installation of new fans to double the air-handling capacity and provide much of the cooling required for the Victoria Line. Firstco provided a Ventilation Shaft Control System (VSCS) at three Mid-Tunnel Ventilation Shafts (MTVSs) as part of this programme. A central SCADA system was also put in place, to provide the control and monitoring functionality for the Interim Mid-Tunnel Control System (IMCS) sites, including fault alert functions. Additionally, a data historian was used to provide real-time data logging and archiving functionality. The aim was to have this operate in conjunction with the SCADA system to generate monthly reports for the client.



London Underground

Tranche 3

Due to the enormity of the TfL rail network, this work was subdivided into a series of smaller work packages known as tranches. After successfully providing designs, development and implementation of the shaft ventilation control system for Tranche 2 on the Victoria Line, Firstco were appointed to provide a design package for a Ventilation Shaft Control System (VSCS) on Tranche 3.

Following on from our previous engagement with Cooling the Tube Programme, Firstco provided professional services up to RIBA stage F and presented the design package for a VSCS at four Mid-Tunnel Ventilation Shafts. The proposed network presented some additional challenges due to low bandwidth and cost of uptime. Firstco suggested a design that employed the use of VPN tunnels to provide an ‘always on’ connection facilitating control system, which works as two-way monitoring system. The design was based on a central SCADA system, which served to create a unified architecture that is both scalable and modular to facilitate future expansion


Firstco also developed, the Central Cooling Control System (CCCS) which acts as a central hub for remote cooling sites across the underground network to report back real-time data. The CCCS is an interactive user interface that presents this data as meaningful and actionable information to its users. It was the first system of its kind to be fully virtualised into the LU IT infrastructure, meaning the CCCS desktop application is available to authorised users on any workstation on the TfL domain.

The CCCS was developed to scale up easily and will continue to grow as more cooling assets are brought online. Designing this desktop application with an open architecture also means that the client has the option to later include monitoring of other assets, or link equivalent data collection systems into one combined display, should they wish to.

This project is a great example of how Firstco’s expertise in real-time operational control systems can support valuable information being shared across departmental borders, even within large and complex organisations like TfL.

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