London Underground operator Tube Lines has announced £12m of identified savings thanks to the introduction of the Change Challenge Cup competition to encourage innovation.

The competition, started in 2008, encourages people to think of better ways of working in terms of increasing productivity, decreasing costs and improving safety. Since its inception the competition has resulted in groundbreaking innovations some of which are awaiting patents.

The overall winner for 2008 is the rainwater harvester, which has made significant inroads into reducing Tube Lines’ carbon footprint as well as reducing water costs and the amount of chemicals used.

The first system of its kind to be used in the rail industry, the harvester has been in use since June 2008 and collects rainwater from the depot roof and uses it to wash trains. It was shortlisted in 2008 for the Rail Business Awards for environmental innovation.

Tube Lines’ director of information, John Connolly said that the company was thrilled with its in-house results.

“Tube Lines knows its employees are the best people to innovate and find new ways of working more efficiently and effectively,” he said. “We are proud that the ideas put forward are already resulting in better, safer working, resulting in greater savings in the work we’re doing.”

The second prize winner was the implementation of CCTV cameras in machine rooms to monitor signal failures. This idea has meant that a video can be replayed and stopped at the point of failure so it can be investigated.

Other innovations being considered include introducing a pit platform to enable workers to safely reach the tunnel walls opposite platforms and using industrial wipes to clean track metal detectors of metal fillings, which can cause signal failures and delays to passenger journeys.

By Daniel Garrun.