Caroline Russell by Chris King Photography

News from Caroline Russell: Floods shut tube stations for 137 hours

24 October 2019

Floods shut tube stations for 137 hours

Flooding forced tube stations to close for more than 137 hours since 2014, according to new data revealed by Caroline Russell AM. [1]

The average station closes for over two hours when shut by flooding with the longest closure at Lambeth North lasting almost 11 hours – effectively taking out the station for a whole day.

  • Heathrow terminal five was closed for nearly seven hours during one flooding incident in 2018
  • The worst flood incident was 23 June 2016, when nine stations were closed for a combined total of 58.5 hours
  • Upminster Bridge suffered the most repeated flooding, with six recorded closures in the past five years, all in 2016
  • 41 different stations have recorded closures due to floods since 2015
  • Caroline Russell’s report, Climate Change Risks for London, found 23 tube stations are at ‘significant’ risk of flooding, with 57 at high risk. This represents nearly a third of all underground stations
  • Caroline also found the Northern and Central lines have the most stations at risk. [2]

Flood risks for stations include not just heavy rain, which will become more frequent with climate change, but also water main bursts. Recently 250 homes were affected by a water main bursting in Finsbury Park, and similar issues caused extensive flooding for homes and businesses Islington in 2016 and 2018.

Flooding will be an increasing problem in London, in the last month City Hall, which hosts the Mayor’s office and the offices of the London Assembly, flooded twice. [3]

Caroline Russell says:

I was shocked to see the extent of flooding closures recorded by Transport for London. The disruption from heavy rain we had, just last month, meant thousands of passengers on the District Line endured hours of delay.

My report showed the surface water flooding risks to our tube stations but unbelievably TfL and the Mayor have kept confidential the details of which stations are at risk, and how they are tackling flooding risks. We need to be able to check the progress they are making.

I was bemused however to be told by TfL that the cause of recent flooding at Victoria tube station was actually the failure of an ‘anti-flood valve’. 

The fact that measures to stop flooding are themselves sometimes failing underlines the need for the Mayor to be far more transparent about progress, risks and issues in adapting London’s stations to respond to flood risks.

Notes to editors

Caroline is available for interview.

[1] Surface water flooding of Transport for London stations (1), written question to the Mayor 2019/19667, Caroline Russell, Oct 2019

[2] Climate Change Risks for London, Caroline Russell, May 2019

Key findings from ‘Climate change risks for London: a review of evidence under 1.5°C and different warming scenarios’, are:

  • Two thirds of London flats could experience overheating (temp over 28°C) by 2030s 
  • For every 1°C increase over 20°C ambulance call outs increase by 1 per cent
  • In the most vulnerable districts in London, the odds of dying from cardiorespiratory causes increased by more than 10 percent for every 1°C increase in temperature, compared with virtually no effect in the most resilient districts
  • 23 stations on the London Underground Network are at significant risk of flooding and the Northern and Central lines have the most stations at risk
  • 643 schools are at risk from a 1 in 30 year flood (this is considered high risk)
  • An increase of up to 40 per cent in water supply is needed by 2040 in order to meet the water deficit in London and the South East
  • London, compared with other cities in western Europe, is highly exposed to the financial impact of climate change

[3] Flooding at City Hall, written question to the Mayor from Caroline Russell 2019/19664, Oct 2019

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