Fillers One hundred years ago

The Temperature of Underground Railway Tunnels

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 12 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:429

Not very long ago it was gravely suggested that certain stations on the Underground Metropolitan Railway, where the air is most sulphurous and the general conditions simply Stygian, were useful as sanatoria for convalescent railway porters and for those suffering from phthisis and “delicate chests.” It seems now that the latest accession to our underground railway system has hygienic properties of a different kind. It has been stated that a person who had suffered from anorexia for 18 months suddenly developed ravenous appetite after a single journey by the new underground electric railway, popularly known as the “twopenny tube.” From the repetition of a similar therapeutic journey every two or three days this satisfactory state of affairs has been so well maintained that in his case an actual pecuniary profit has been achieved from the discontinuance of tonic remedies which have become needless. The two facts—the journey and the appetite— certainly seem conceivably connected when it is possible that the passenger went from an above ground atmosphere with a temperature of perhaps 80° F. to a tubal air of, say, 50°, thus adopting a convenient and expeditious method of counteracting any tendency to heat prostration that may have been present. But the more general opinion seems to be rather in the other direction, that the abrupt change in temperature together with the gale of wind, maintained as is probable by a system of fans, acts injuriously on persons who descend the lifts in a condition of profuse perspiration. (BMJ 1900;ii:595.)