Here’s something coming without delays.
New research warns that rapidly rising underground heat in subway stations is well on its way to becoming a “silent hazard” that will wreck transit systems and cause health issues for straphangers in the not-so-distant future.
“Subsurface temperature rises can also cause transportation infrastructure and public health issues, such as overheated subway rails that force trains to slow down or stop to avoid incidents with significant economic costs associated with the delay of public transportation services,” warns Northwestern engineering professor Alessandro Rotta Loria in a study released Tuesday.
Making matters worse, the hellishly hot platform and tunnel areas — scientifically referred to as urban heat islands — are not equipped for the major temperature change, one which can have a whopping ground temperature of 70 degrees.
“No existing civil structure or infrastructure in cities has been designed to account for rising ground temperatures and is hence prone to operational issues due to subsurface heat islands,” the study, published in the journal Nature Communications Engineering, noted.
Blame the trains themselves for this phenomenon as “underground transport repeatedly impacts the temperature field of the subsurface” from its heat emissions along with the same coming from crowds of passengers.
Also, just as the weight of Manhattan’s skyscrapers is causing the city to sink, big buildings also “continuously inject heat into the ground” — thus making subway stations rival Dante’s Inferno during times of hot weather.
Loria conducted research on the loop area within Chicago’s subway system. It is “the most densely populated district in the US after Manhattan,” he wrote.
“The impacts of temperature variations associated with subsurface heat islands are shown to represent a silent hazard for the operational performance of civil infrastructure in Chicago and potentially other cities worldwide,” Loria added.
Though, there could be a silver lining associated with the fiery underground temperatures.
“Subsurface heat islands can be considered a resource because they provide the opportunity to harness large quantities of waste heat that would otherwise be dispersed in the ground,” Loria wrote.
Finding an efficient way to re-harness the miserable subway heat could “advance science, engineering, and technology and comprehensively inform revisions of urban planning strategies for different cities worldwide.”