Claustrophobic trains and passenger welfare

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Fast Track, 26 Jul 2019.

  1. Fast Track

    Fast Track Member

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    Topical today with the extreme heat but I believe we need a rethink on these modern sealed units. I’ve seen video today of very distressed passengers with young children in locked carriages unable to get out. Awful viewing and how long before there are fatalities.

    To be able to pull a window down just a few inches makes me feel so much more comfortable - am I alone?

    Last winter I was on a Richmond to Waterloo semi fast and it was so hot, crowded and claustrophobic standing up I simply had to get off at Clapham to get fresh air and the next slow train.

    A few months ago we made an unscheduled stop at Vauxhall no information as to why we stopped over the tannoy for about 10 minutes. The train was packed and the air con so poor but it was about 15 -20 minutes before we were able to open the doors and get off. Felt like a lifetime for a lot of people on that train. Awful and must put some off travelling by train.
     
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  3. Carntyne

    Carntyne Member

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    AC doesn't work if windows are open. Passengers were told not to travel unless necessary given the heatwave in many parts of the country.
     
  4. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    They need to go back to building in emergency windows that can be opened by the guard if the air-con isn't working. This is what makes many 158 journeys bearable.
     
  5. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    If there is no emergency ventilation and all of the air conditioning has failed, even if its not a hot day, then rolling stock should be withdrawn from service until fixed. This is likely to result in some services being cancelled - indeed, this exact situation does occur relatively often.

    If emergency ventilation is provided, you are considerably more likely to find the air conditioning not working, if the operator has the policy that the train can still go into service. The effectiveness of some emergency ventilation is also called into question. The RAIB said that that provided on a class 377/5, which was used, made almost no difference.
     
  6. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    I personally feel that the lack of emergency ventilation (crew controlled) is a serious oversight on many units and vehicles. It doesn't need to be huge numbers of hopper windows but four/six per vehicle operated by train crew when required would make a huge difference. It potentially means that for trains that are on the move but have vehicles with failed aircon passengers can still have a relatively comfortable journey (if a bit noisier!) and for those on trains that are stationary at least there can be a small amount of airflow through the vehicle (but it will still doubtlessly be very very hot). We absolutely do not need passenger controlled windows otherwise we'll have aircon failing all over the place as it tries to cool the train and the surrounding area when they open it unnecessarily.

    Part of me even wonders if it would be worthwhile going as far as having lockable drop-lights on door windows. Having a proper opening window for use on trains that are stationary for long period would be helpful from a passenger comfort perspective but there's also a use in that it means that guards would be able to observe their train out of the platform properly (which brings an operational safety advantage).
     
  7. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    There are downsides - for example the fact that rather than being an essential system the air con is seen as an aside and if it breaks down will be kicked down the road for repairs quite literally for months. On days like yesterday our drivers and guards are refusing to take 158s without air con in increasing numbers because the cabs in particular for the driver are a nightmare, they just hold on to the heat forever.
     
  8. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    Whilst I agree as the hopper windows on a 158 are helpful to get air flowing when the air con has failed if the train is moving ,they are only really of limited benefit to the people sat directly next to them if the train stops moving .Having been stuck on a 158 with failed engines (no air con) in summer before even with the hopper windows open temperature and lack of airflow quickly made it extremely uncomfortable .

    There should be some temporary barriers that can be put up at doors to allow doors to be opened without the risk of passengers falling out if the train is stranded .Still wont be ideal because air wont be flowing due to the train moving , but at least a bigger opening might allow a bit more air in .

    Of course the other side of this is that the current rhetoric is around removing the guard from trains , so all these "nice to haves" that the guard would be taking responsibility for while the driver is fault finding , liaising with the signaller and control are only going to fall by the wayside .
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2019
  9. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Don't all LNER's trains carry significant stocks of bottled water? In the buffet, with the first class drinks, and in big cases stored in various places (van, guard's office, luggage racks in the saloon etc) throughout the train during hot weather as a precaution?

    Perhaps these had all been exhausted, but still. The event was known about in advance, so I would be surprised if their trains hadn't been well loaded with water.
     
  10. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    There's usually a huge stack of water in the DVT.
     
  11. Jozhua

    Jozhua Member

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    I think the UK dramatically underestimates the danger of heat. Warmer countries that see these conditions frequently take it more seriously and precautions are more prevalent within their society.

    In the UK we seem to have an attitude that heat is simply a comfort issue and that it can't kill. It also seems that TOCs are still underestimating the danger of these conditions and seem to think people walking on a railway is far worse than dangerously hot conditions, literally causing people to pass out.
     
  12. bb21

    bb21 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Please note the topic of the thread and try to stick to it. Thank you.
     
  13. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    I think since 2003 we are well aware that heat can hasten death, particularly among vulnerable categories of people.
    I don't wish to sound flippant, but passing out is unpleasant rather than fatal, while walking on railway tracks is likely to be the reverse.
     
  14. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    If air conditioning fails due to loss of power to the train then consideration needs to be given to the fitting of either a generator or battery to each coach that will keep the air conditioning functioning until such times as the train can be rescued. If it fails completely then the train must be evacuated. If someone were to die as a result of heat exhaustion due to no air conditioning, the TOC could well find itself in court.
     
  15. FelixtheCat

    FelixtheCat Established Member

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    Agreed.

    The ScotRail and Transport for Wales staff on the various 158s I've been on over the past week have been very good at coming down the train and opening up the windows when the temperature got too much. I'm not a fan of having entirely unopenable windows (in this case, smashing doesn't count) throughout the train because the internal climate controllers can and will go wrong, usually at the worst possible moments.
     
  16. thejuggler

    thejuggler Member

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    It is possible to have window systems which allow glass to be removed in an emergency, but do not result in broken glass. I have never seen them on UK stock.
     
  17. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    Heatstroke can be fatal.
     
  18. WideRanger

    WideRanger Member

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    Pretty much all Japanese trains have air conditioning, in some cases retrofitted. These have to be really beefy units given the sometimes stifling heat in the summer. Almost (including very modern) commuter trains have multiple openable windows. They are not clearly marked, but if you know what to look for, they are there. Often they open quite wide, and have no locks on them. They will normally all have pull down mesh blinds to reduce the sunlight coming in. I have never seen anyone opening the windows necessarily, but people will routinely pull the blinds down on the side facing the sun. Everyone is very sensitive to keep as much heat out as possible, and most people have air conditioning at home so understand that opening the windows will make the train hotter (if the aircon is working). For this kind of arrangement to work, I think you need 1) pretty flat sides of trains, 2) general understanding of how aircon works and 3) massive societal pressure so that if someone were messing around, they would be tackled quickly.
     
  19. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    They weren't told not to travel on South Western Railway though. I do agree though other parts of the country were told this.

    However there was disruption on South Western Railway and although not all heat related, the power did need to be switched off at one stage.

    Being able to open the windows sounds like a good idea in theory. Alas I was on a North Downs Line turbo train on Thursday and even though it has aircon, some of the windows were open.

    I couldn't be bother to shut them and inform passengers they stop the aircon working well if open. I didn't actually if the aircon was working, so that was another reason I left it alone.

    The guard could have closed them if they saw fit to do so of course.
     
  20. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    No, they have been irresponsible in breaking the air conditioning by opening the windows and making the problem worse.
     
  21. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    At the end of the day if it’s getting too hot then the air conditioning is clearly not working effectively. Most people would prefer a flow of fresh air rather than an ineffective air conditioning.

    Same domestically. I kept my windows at home closed most of yesterday, which managed to keep the downstairs at as low as 24 degrees, with the cellar door kept open providing a welcome stream of even cooler air. Upstairs was a different story with the inside temperature eventually reaching 30 degrees versus 34 outside. However with a breeze in the air in the end it became more pleasant to open a couple of upstairs windows rather than having to endure increasingly stale air. As an aside, it’s interesting to observe how few people nowadays know how to use sash windows correctly!
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2019
  22. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    Not necessarily the case. The air con will trip itself out and go into vent mode when it overloads in extremely hot weather on class 158 showing a high pressure fault. It's perfectly in order to open the windows at this point. It won't come back on until you clear the fault manually or the air intake cools significantly. Class 158 air con requires a degree of technical understanding to manage correctly but underpinning it also has to be the knowledge of when it's dead.
     
  23. AY1975

    AY1975 Member

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    Which country/ies (if any) have you seen them in, and on what type of stock?
     
  24. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    Thank you - this is a helpful reply.

    The key point is not necessarily - it appears that there is a temptation to open 158 / 166 windows too early in some cases - e.g. not when it is actually dead.
     
  25. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    “Define necessary” would be my question to the TOCs and terminally useless RDG. It’s all very well saying these things, but they need to be more specific. Was my journey to work “necessary” yesterday - it is to me.
     
  26. FelixtheCat

    FelixtheCat Established Member

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    How do you know the air conditioning has been working on the services I've travelled on where the windows were opened? Perhaps start by listing all the services that were 158s that I've travelled on in the past 10 days :) .
     
  27. 142blue

    142blue Member

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    Thailand trains. Ceiling fans. Sorted
     
  28. Ethano92

    Ethano92 Member

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    Just how many journeys made in a given day would be considered unnecessary by the person making them? When the powers out and hence so is the AC, an openable window should be a requirement. Bombardier did this on their Electrostars, why they stopped on their aventuras I will never figure out although I admit provision was poor and there should be far more openable windows.

    I'd suggest it's a psychological thing as well, help people's nerves, panic and sense of claustrophobia if there is some sort of openable window as opposed to being trapped and knowing there's no new air coming in at all, I known I'd at least react this way if I was stuck on a sealed unit.
     
  29. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    Trouble is that’s what makes many 158 journeys so bad in the first place, if the air-con is left on it’ll think it’s too cold and start heating everyone up more.
     
  30. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Well, they are for emergencies. Modern air con seems to have more oomph, so I doubt a guard could mistake it for being broken in the same way !
     
  31. Flying Snail

    Flying Snail Member

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    I really don't know where this fallacy has come from but it gets brought up every time AC failures are discussed here. It is simply not true, having the windows open will not break the AC. It may make it ineffective by venting the treated air from the carriage and on a relatively cool day may cause the AC to turn off due to the system reading the temp of air entering the carriage rather than the true internal temp.
     

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