New study will monitor pollution at national railways

A new national study will measure air quality on the railway. 

Monitoring commenced at Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Stanstead Airport stations last week.

A further 100 other stations across the country will contribute to the Stations Air Quality Monitoring Network, organised by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and funded by the Department of Transport.

‘Diffusion tubes’ will be placed around each station to measure the levels of the pollutant nitrogen oxide.The tubes will be placed at different areas around the station and will be changed each month and analysed over a two year period, with a review after the first year.

It is hoped that the study will provide information on the current state of air quality in stations across the rail network and provide location-specific air quality data which will help to inform the public about air quality at train stations.

green metal train station bench

The study will help to determine baseline air quality levels, which can then be used to prioritise improvements if necessary, and will also assess how effective measures are to minimise pollution and improve air quality at train stations.

Greater Anglia’s Energy and Environment Manager, Steph Evans, said, ‘I’m pleased that Greater Anglia is involved in this study and that we will be able to gain a greater understanding of air quality at some of our stations so that we can ensure they are clean, healthy places to wait.

‘Thanks to our new bi-mode trains, we are already improving air quality at our stations because these trains can switch from diesel to electric power when they are waiting at a station if overhead wires are available. This means they do not have to idle their engines in order to keep the lights and heating on, as they can take power from the station’s overhead power lines instead.

‘The Stations Air Quality Monitoring Network is the first of its kind for GB rail and we look forward to seeing the RSSB’s report and baseline data to find out how we are performing and if there is anything we can do to improve air quality.’

RSSB Air Quality Specialist, Philbert Chan added: ‘We have to ensure air quality is at an acceptable level to protect passenger and workers health.

‘This is the first large-scale organised air quality monitoring campaign on the railway network, using state-of-the-art equipment, to ensure data obtained is as robust and reliable as possible.

‘RSSB’s analysis of the data collected will provide valuable information on air pollution, at stations across the country, allowing action to be taken to improve air quality where necessary.’


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