Yarra Trams is testing the Cool Seal solution

In Australia, Yarra Trams tests an innovative solution to combat urban heat island effect

Yarra Trams is testing the Cool Seal solution
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PostedFEB. 20, 2024
Words byKeolis
    In Melbourne, Yarra Trams is testing an innovative solution to alleviate the sweltering effects of urban heat islands. The operator has applied a cooling surface coating at one of the network’s busiest tram stops, resulting in improved comfort for passengers and team members alike.

    Context: Mitigating the dangers of high temperatures at one of Melbourne’s busiest tram stations  

    Australia’s hot summer climate, with temperatures occasionally reaching 40 degrees Celsius (equivalent to 85 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), poses a threat to people’s comfort and safety. Adding to the challenge is the urban heat island effect, caused by a dense concentration of streets, sidewalks, buildings and other concrete surfaces that absorb and retain heat.

    To address this, the Passenger Service team at Yarra Trams sought an innovative solution to mitigate the heat and lower the temperatures felt by customer service teams and passengers. Their chosen approach involved applying a UV-repellent coating to the track surface, effectively reducing the environment’s ambient temperature (average air temperature) and radiant temperature (temperature felt from the hot ground).

    Crédits : Mitchell Luo

    In Melbourne, Federation Square is the busiest tram stop on the Yarra Trams network, operated by Keolis Downer. Positioned in the middle of the road without natural shade protection like trees, it is one of the hottest places to work or wait for transport.

    Innovation: Cool Seal, a UV-repellent road coating to reduce surface and ambient temperatures

    To address this challenge, the local teams explored a promising American solution extensively used in Phoenix and Los Angeles: Cool Seal, a high-performance, water-based asphalt emulsion seal coat designed to achieve lower surface temperatures, thanks to its light color and UV-repellent properties.

    Some municipalities in Adelaide, South Australia, had already tested Cool Seal, immediately reducing surface heat by 8 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit). However, no formal trial of the product had occurred for road surfaces in the state of Victoria.

    Application of Cool Seal

    Cool Seal can be applied to asphalt surfaces, similar to conventional seal coats already utilized to protect and maintain surface quality and longevity. Moreover, the application process is swift and straightforward, requiring pressure cleaning and just two application rounds.

    4 to 5


    cooler in areas where Cool Seal has been applied on the track (7-10 degrees Fahrenheit)



    surface heat reduction (14 degrees Fahrenheit)

    Benefits: Reduced temperatures for improved passenger/staff comfort and safety

    By using Cool Seal at the Federation Square station, the Yarra Trams teams hoped to reduce the ambient and radiant temperatures felt at the station. The ultimate goal was to promote a comfortable and healthy environment, enhance team member and passenger satisfaction, reduce the risk of heat stress by improving the work environment, and potentially extend the lifespan of the road surface.

    Following installation before the summer season, the solution underwent testing with heat guns to ensure its effectiveness. As a result, temperature readings were 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (7-10 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler in areas where Cool Seal had been applied, thereby reducing heat for passengers and team members.

    Furthermore, Cool Seal brightened the Federation Square station, mitigated noise, and improved the experience for tram drivers and workers. Its nonstick characteristics have also facilitated easier cleaning and made the stations less slippery, ensuring safety for passengers, including those wearing flip-flops or high heels.

    Application of Cool Seal
    Application of Cool Seal

    Next steps: Testing the Cool Seal solution at other stations in the Yarra Trams network  

    After the success of the initial trials, Yarra Trams plans to continue collecting feedback from teams and conduct additional surface heat readings throughout the summer to confirm the solution’s effectiveness.

    Depending on these results, the solution may be expanded to the tram depot north of the Federation Square station, further mitigating the urban heat island effect and reducing air conditioning costs.

    While Yarra Trams considers replicating the solution at other tram stations, Cool Seal has also garnered interest from various businesses around Melbourne, with government offices and emergency services emerging as key partners.

    Application of Cool Seal
    Application of Cool Seal

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