“More than £6.5 million was spent by Transport for London (TfL) on its doomed tunnel-cleaning train project, it has been revealed. The scheme was first mooted six years ago by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson as a dust-busting alternative to laborious manual cleaning of Tube tunnels, which is carried out nightly by workers known colloquially as ‘fluffers’ during so-called engineering hours when no passenger services run.
“The plan to automate Tube cleaning hit the buffers, however – seemingly because vacuuming technology trialled on the London Underground was all too effective.
“Simon Birkett, director of campaign group Clean Air in London, told E&T earlier this year: “My understanding is that the tunnel-cleaning train that TfL was trialling was too good, in that it was actually pulling asbestos out of the lining of tunnel walls.” TfL has now confirmed a total of £6,732,879 was spent on its tunnel-cleaning project. Responding to a Freedom of Information request from E&T, a TfL spokesman stressed the multi-million pound sum included spending on “some elements which have value independent of the tunnel-cleaning train, such as isolated traction sections at Northfields depot, which facilitate plant delivery”.
“A City Hall insider described the sum as “significant”, however, and Liberal Democrat politician Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs a committee examining transport in London, has tabled a series of questions about Tube tunnel cleaning.
“It had been reported that a specially adapted train was being supplied to TfL by Germany company Schoerling Kommunal to hoover up dust and dirt. However, TfL has now told E&T this was not the case, adding: “We started a contract to develop a vehicle, and that included some manufacturing activity, but this was not delivered to London or used in a trial.”…