Waste heat from HS2 trains ‘could be used to heat hundreds of homes’

Engineers say air source heat pumps could be used to draw warm air from the railway’s tunnels and direct it into households

Train passing through station

Waste heat from the High Speed 2 (HS2) train line could be used to keep hundreds of new homes warm in a sustainable way.

Engineers working on the project’s super-hub at Old Oak Common in north-west London have proposed plans to install five air source heat pumps to draw warm air from the railway’s tunnels, where the waste heat from trains’ brakes and engines normally dissipates into the ground.

They say it could instead be fed into a local District Heating System, which would allow it to be used to heat water and power central heating for up to 500 new homes.

The infrastructure would be installed in a crossover box being built in the area – this is an underground hall that houses a points junction to enable trains to arrive and depart from any of the station’s platforms.

The engineers believe the clean heat system would pay for itself after just four years and reduce the carbon footprint of the affected houses by 22% compared to gas heaters.

HS2 Innovation Manager, Pablo García, said: “HS2 is so much more than a railway. By taking a long term view of how the benefits of investing in the new high speed railway can be shared, we’re investigating how to provide sustainable, low carbon heating and hot water to up to 500 new homes.

“Our plans would see warm air pushed into the crossover box by trains, in effect acting like pistons. It then rises to be harnessed by air source heat pumps, converted into hot water and transported to homes by insulated pipes.”

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