An ongoing project to migrate London Underground’s station lights to lower-energy LEDs has seen around a third of the stations converted to the new lighting systems, brightening stations while lowering energy costs.
Oxford Circus is the latest to have been completed, and apart from having brighter, whiter lights, they also use about 60 percent less energy than the older lamps.
More than a third of Tube stations across London – such as Clapham North, Golders Green and Old Street- have been converted to LED lighting, with further stations, such as King’s Cross, Bank, Monument, and Westminster planned for conversion in the coming years.
Due to the scale and nature of the work, it can only be carried out when stations are closed and power is switched off, which on a 24/7 operational network means very few windows to carry out the work. It also is further complicated by the range of lighting assets in the stations, given that some are heritage stations that need special consideration.
As a result, TfL expects that it will take until 2032 to convert all their stations to LED lighting.
The lower energy bills tend to pay for the cost of replacing the lights over about two years, so the upfront capital costs translate into lower running costs after a couple of years. There are also more savings in future years as LED lamps last so much longer than the older lamps, so the ongoing maintenance cost of replacing lamps is slashed.
Although most of the benefit is cutting costs for TfL, the improved reliability of the lights should see the stations looking a bit better as fewer broken lights are around, which always looks unpleasant, as if maintenance is being missed.
The newer LEDs, aside from consuming less electricity and lasting longer, also put out about 10 percent more light, making the stations a bit brighter.
Transport for London (TfL) is also converted its bus shelters to use LEDs, with some 90% of the shelters now using LED lighting. The entire Elizabeth line is illuminated with LEDs, a decision that was taken back when LED lighting was still novel, and their suppliers often had to design fittings for the new format from scratch.
Glynn Barton, interim Chief Operating Officer at TfL, said: “Reducing carbon is a critical part of our work to reduce the impact of public transport on climate change. Upgrading stations to LED lighting not only provides a brighter, more welcoming environment for our customers, but it also helps us reduce maintenance costs, and helps make London a greener and more sustainable city for us all.”
As an aside, LED light strips also offer the potential to be more creative in how stations are illuminated, leading to the potential in the future to substantially enhance the appearance of heritage stations when opportunities arise.