From the Institution of Mechanical Engineering
London’s nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels similar to Shanghai and Beijing
Dangerous levels of pollution in the capital are identified in a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which calls for urgent action to prevent illness and death.
With NOx levels at Paddington station in breach of European limits regarding NO2 for outdoor air quality, the report calls on Government to work with Network Rail to deliver the complete electrification of the main rail lines between Britain’s principal cities and ports and in major urban rail networks. Currently up to 70% of trains passing through the station are powered by diesel engines that are exempt from regulations for modern diesel trains.
Other pollution hot spots include the Bakerloo and Victoria lines, which have the highest levels of airborne respirable dust levels. But currently the impact and level of poor air quality is not well understood, and the report calls for the introduction of a coherent national scheme to monitor emissions from different modes of transport so that informed targets can be set.
London’s commuters are most at risk during the morning rush hour, with the concentration of pollutants 13% - 43% higher than during afternoon or evening peaks. Another of the report’s recommendations is that incentives should be introduced to encourage freight deliveries outside of peak hours.
Philippa Oldham, lead author of the report and Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:
“London is currently ranked as 15th out of 36 major global cities in terms of overall air quality, lagging behind other European cities such as Berlin and Vienna. The capital needs to prioritise this issue and create a modern Clean Air Act that takes a holistic approach; it must not just target individual sectors, but encourage everyone to play a role in reducing emissions.”
The A breath of fresh air: new solutions to reducetransport emissions report recommends that Government and industry work together to:
1. Introduce a national monitoring system, across the different types of transport, recording all types of pollution, to create a coherent picture against which national targets can be set.
2. Develop incentives for cleaner technologies and encourage the phase-out of legacy vehicles with poor emissions record across the network (for example diesel cars and trains).
3. Consider incentivising freight and logistic operators to make deliveries outside peak hours.
4. Conduct a series of trials on existing diesel railway rolling stock, new bi-mode trains and in major stations, to understand the level and effect of exposure to pollutants has on commuters and railway workers.
5. Conduct a series of trials to understand the impact on the individual of exposure to pollutants in overground and underground railway stations, ports, airports and bus stations.
6. Create a positive and dynamic campaign that informs the public of the health benefits of switching to lower-emission modes of transport.
7. Government to work with Network Rail to deliver the complete electrification of the main rail lines between Britain’s principal cities and ports and in major urban rail networks.
8. Fund research through the Clean Air Fund and Innovate UK to create programmes to clean up various transport modes.