London Underground trains that ‘carry asbestos materials’ are set to run until 2040s

The issues of the London Underground Bakerloo line remain very apparent as Transport for London (TfL) warns its funding crisis may lead to the closure of one Tube line, MyLondon has reported.

Now, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has exposed the scale of asbestos that is present on the “1972 stock” Tube trains which run all passenger services on the line.

[Image: SteveTaint / FreeImages]

Asbestos is a type of fibrous material that causes serious health problems when inhaled including lung cancers and inflammation. Asbestos was banned in 1999 although it can be found in construction materials used before then, including on these trains. There are no reports of asbestos being found in customer areas.

At least seven parts underneath the train floor carry asbestos materials, notably underneath the carriages at the front and the back of the train with driving cabs.

Though the trains do not pose any immediate threat to public health, and have been used in service since the early 1970s, TfL’s plans to continue using them into the 2040s unless the government provides enough funding to replace them. This could be said to reinforce claims that London’s transport network would be set to fall into ‘managed decline’, with added risk involved.

TfL advised in a statement:

“We have processes and procedures in place to ensure that the management of asbestos is carried out in compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.”

Bakerloo line trains were planned to be replaced with state-of-the-art new walkthrough trains this decade as part of TfL’s budget plans for 2023/2024, however its current financial situation means this will no longer be possible.

In the worst possible scenario, the trains will spend up to 68 years old in passenger service.

Given its history, the Bakerloo line trains are not the only place asbestos can be found on London’s transport network. Asbestos materials can also be found in some stations and tunnels but poses no threat to passengers as they just pass through.