AirCon vs Opening Windows

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Haig paxton

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Well let me begin by saying that AirCon can be a good thing, however my experience of it on trains recently has made me wish I could just open a damn window for some fresh air. I am on Scotrail class 380s regularly and most of the time they are way too warm, stuffy and uncomfortable. AirCon when set to the right temperature on intercity services is fine but for local stop-start work is useless.

It's not possible to please everyone but I believe conventional opening windows satisfy most passengers, closed to keep heat in during cold days and open to create a good breeze. There is also the health implications of AirCon and I always sneeze within minutes of boarding a 380.
 
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I always prefer the fresh air of an open window to what air con can provide, you'll never beat it.
 

TH172341

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Fresh air is always nice - when you get enough speed and the air is flowing through then it is very refreshing. Also have the added benefit of not having the terrible situation when the air con fails and there's no window backup... My trip on a 156 the other day was very pleasant, despite it being a hot day, thanks to the 156s' plentiful supply of hopper windows!

Only issue with the open windows is the noise and that it isn't always totally effective at low speed. Air con when it's working and well maintained is more effective in cooling down, although as you say it can lead to coughing or sneezing at times. Best mix is having backup windows dotted along the carriage in case of failure.
 
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edwin_m

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As a sometime hay fever sufferer, aircon for me every time. My worst experienced with it was on a rake of Mk2s behind two 31s on the Cambrian in (I think) 1992, when the air and pollen was just coming through the open windows and swirling round the coach.

To this day I can't travel in a 156 at the relevant time of year unless I take a backwards-facing seat at the very front of the coach where the draught is minimised.

And the quietness of a standing EMU may be good, but the noise from a train at speed with all the windows open, especially a DMU or when on corrugated rails, can be deafening.
 

3141

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I absolutely agree with the point about hay fever. I've travelled in Chiltern class 165s before they had aircon and had similar difficulties with pollen coming through the open windows.

Also, open windows can produce draughts which in some circumstances are felt more strongly by someone further away from the window than the person sitting beside it.

On SWT's class 159s the aircon is usually set at an appropriate temperature and the only problem is the noise, which is certainly not deafening but I'd rather not have it.
 

najaB

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Units that are fitted with AC tend to be more comfortable in winter as they have forced air rather than convective heating and sealed windows that don't let in a draught.
 

A0wen

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Another hay-fever sufferer, another vote for air-con.

I also prefer the 'white noise' of the air con systems to the racket which emanates from open windows at high speed and the inevitable rattling and banging shut of windows when you go through a tunnel.
 

CP165

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It depends. I find trains with decent AC are still always too warm in this country. When I travel in Europe the trains seem to have the temperature set lower which means the AC works harder but it's far more comfortable.
 

aformeruser

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Having been on a 150 with leaking hopper windows during heavy showers the other day, I think the Sprinters with hopper windows need them replacing whether or not they aren't going to be fitted with air con.
 

kevin5025

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Am I correct in thinking that all stock with opening windows had forced air ventilation that freshened the air to some extent even when the window were closed? I know the MK1 and 2 stock had the ceiling vents.
I can appreciate why hay fever sufferers prefer air con! It must be a huge help.
One thing I wonder about air conditioned stock is how fresh the air is. Does anyone know if it is fresh air that is taken in, or if a proportion is recycled?
If air conditioning is working, I think I prefer it (but I do like the feel of an open window!). However, on Scotrail 158 and 170 I always seem to be stuck on a train with apparently no fresh air. Maybe they just don't clean the filters because there seems to be very little coming through - the contrast on a refurbished 170 was very apparent.
 

westv

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Based on my previous long experience of travelling in the "ovens on wheels" out of Liverpool Street on a hot day, I would never choose an inadequate opening window over air con.
 
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Another plus for Air Con is that it not only reduces the temperature but also the humidity. I find that I can feel more comfortable under dry high temperature condions than lower temperature high humidity conditions.
 

TH172341

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Another plus for Air Con is that it not only reduces the temperature but also the humidity. I find that I can feel more comfortable under dry high temperature condions than lower temperature high humidity conditions.

That's true - on a Voyager on a hot humid day the other week and it was a blessing that there was good air con. The Bombardier air conditioning and heating is very good I find, certainly the 168s/172s/378s.
 

SWT_USER

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Air conditioning of a decent standard as fitted to the Desiro fleet is better than opening windows. However I'd much rather opening windows than the woeful AC on GWR 166's - either fix it properly as Chiltern have done to their turbos or retro fit opening windows to match the 165's.
 
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The Ham

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Air conditioning of a decent standard as fitted to the Desiro fleet is better than opening windows. However I'd much rather opening windows than the woeful AC on GWR 166's - either fix it properly as Chiltern have done to their turbos or retro fit opening windows to match the 165's.

Opening windows works to a point (or if you have lots of opening windows like on some of the slammers), however if the train is rammed a few windows don't seem to make much difference. I've been on 444's where it was baking (even though the air con was working well) just because there was no more space for people to board the train and that number of bodies was creating a lot of heat. I doubt that a few small windows would have made much difference and certainly wouldn't have been better.

Yes AC needs to work if you are going to have it, but as long as it does so it will win hands down.
 

Mikey C

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Another hay fever sufferer remembering how terrible it used to be at this time of year going through the countryside, especially on older trains with their wider openings!

A different problem with more recent trains, is that with open carriages and hopper windows with small openings, the air flow rarely goes to the people that want it, but instead to someone in another row behind.

Indeed, it you're at the front of a carriage, you'll feel no benefit from an opening window at all.
 

SWT_USER

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Opening windows works to a point (or if you have lots of opening windows like on some of the slammers), however if the train is rammed a few windows don't seem to make much difference. I've been on 444's where it was baking (even though the air con was working well) just because there was no more space for people to board the train and that number of bodies was creating a lot of heat. I doubt that a few small windows would have made much difference and certainly wouldn't have been better.

Yes AC needs to work if you are going to have it, but as long as it does so it will win hands down.

I'm thinking mainly of the 450's as I use them daily , I can't remember an occasion where I've been too hot. If anything sometimes the air con works too well!

The 166's are the worst of both worlds though as the air con is so poor it might aswell not be there and only alternate windows open.
 

physics34

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think there are positives with both. I rode a 365 from Cambridge to London last year in the height of the summer. Although really loud, it was refreshing to have the windows open and fresh air. Some air conditioned units are stuffy and smell.

You just cant please everyone but i think Air Con JUST wins.
 

Hadders

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think there are positives with both. I rode a 365 from Cambridge to London last year in the height of the summer. Although really loud, it was refreshing to have the windows open and fresh air. Some air conditioned units are stuffy and smell.

You just cant please everyone but i think Air Con JUST wins.

I love the 365s on a hot summers day, 100mph on the fasts, with all the windows open :D
 

route:oxford

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One thing I wonder about air conditioned stock is how fresh the air is. Does anyone know if it is fresh air that is taken in, or if a proportion is recycled?

Given the immediate entry of the offensive "eggy" stink upon entering the High Level tunnel when in air conditioned stock, I'd say that it was a fair proportion.
 

Kite159

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One disadvantage with stock with opening windows is that those windows do nothing if you are stuck in between stations going nowhere fast due to signalling problems up ahead.

Then suddenly your 142 or 317 gets quite warm, quite quickly.
 

tsr

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I'm going to be controversial here and say that I find certain breeds of aircon worse for my hayfever. I suffer from extremely bad hayfever at times, such that my GP has not been able to prescribe anything with lasting effects on it. I find that a fresh breeze tends to blow pollen through as quickly as cleaner air, meaning that unless every single inch of lineside has a plant which causes me problems, the problem is gone almost as soon as it starts. I tend to ride a lot of Bombardier stock which simply cannot seem to filter out pollen at a reliable rate (or, for that matter, anything remotely smelly, which also tends to set me off sneezing on occasion). This means that stagnant air impregnated with pollen seems to swirl round the carriage for ages before being removed in the manner of a slug with an asthmatic hoover. The cab air con seems better but even that is not foolproof; certain very specific areas (last year was Streatham Common) spring up each summer where I simply can't stop sneezing for a good few minutes upon passing through. It mostly happens between stations at exact points en-route. By contrast the problem is non-existent on a 455 with all the hoppers open.
 

Sniffingmoose

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In my experience, I find trains too hot in the summer. For some reason the rail industry does not seem to maintain the aircon. If they cant maintain it properly then dont have it. Let us open a window instead. I mainly travel on Crosscountry so hot voyagers and Hot HST's seem the norm. The 170s are better. As a passenger on a train with no opening windows you have no control of the heat you swelter in.
 

physics34

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In my experience, I find trains too hot in the summer. For some reason the rail industry does not seem to maintain the aircon. If they cant maintain it properly then dont have it. Let us open a window instead. I mainly travel on Crosscountry so hot voyagers and Hot HST's seem the norm. The 170s are better. As a passenger on a train with no opening windows you have no control of the heat you swelter in.

££££££
 
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