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Trains not equipped for heat wave: watchdog

DDP/The Local · 15 Jul 2010, 09:02

Published: 15 Jul 2010 09:02 GMT+02:00

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The German Federal Railway Authority (EBA) has written to the rail operator’s management warning that in higher temperatures, the cooling systems could not be guaranteed to work, daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

The revelation follows widespread condemnation of Deutsche Bahn over an incident last weekend in which the air conditioning system broke down on an ICE train, sending temperatures soaring to as much as 50 degrees Celsius. Federal police are investigating the incident, which put nine people in hospital, to see whether train staff acted negligently.

The paper quoted the letter to Deutsche Bahn management was written by EBA president Gerald Hörster as saying: “The incident gives sufficient cause for the assumption that it cannot be guaranteed that the risks for the passengers were limited to a responsible and lawful degree.”

The German Weather Service (DWD) forecast on Wednesday that the current heatwave would continue until the weekend after next, with temperatures climbing above 30 degrees in much of the country on most days.

Daily Bild reported meanwhile that rail staff had been sent an internal letter warning that “based on the very high outside temperatures at the moment, we have to expect further air conditioning breakdowns in the coming days.”

Operating instructions sent to rail staff have told them to set the air conditioning to “warm” when the temperature outside tops 32 degrees, to prevent the system overloading and breaking down, the paper reported. That would mean the train interiors settled on about 27 degrees.

Story continues below…

Despite initially insisting the heat-shocked train from the weekend was an isolated incident, the rail operator has in the past couple of days had to evacuate two more trains because of cooling failures. Some 40 trains in all have suffered broken air conditioning.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:15 July 15, 2010 by Kanji
This is really a surprising revelation, this is not the first time Germany or Europe got this hot weather. How come they are now saying that the train air conditioning system can't cope with high temperature? Does this mean also that once we got very cold winter, the system can't handle also extreme cold weather? Trains should be design based on outdoor worst condition.
11:04 July 15, 2010 by pepsionice
You have to wonder what idiot signed off on these limited cooling systems? And there are no windows on the train to open for some air flow as in the old days?
12:35 July 15, 2010 by michael4096
This is rather contradictory:

- outside temperature 32 - inside cooling set to 'warm', 27, because of power required to meet 'cool' is too great

- outside temperature >? - cooling requires more than power available to maintain 27 and fails

so what is the ? - it explicitly isn't 32 which is what the headline implies
12:36 July 15, 2010 by DoubleDTown
Famed German engineering v. European attitudes toward air conditioning.

Looks like European attitudes toward air conditioning won.
15:02 July 15, 2010 by Clapoti
@pepsionice... not sure it would be a good idea to open the windows when the train is going 250 km/h :P
15:32 July 15, 2010 by hanskarl
I am not sure it would be just power consumption as the train is using high voltage to operate but weight of the compressors for the lower temperature would be an issue.
16:07 July 15, 2010 by auniquecorn
I think everyone is overlooking the fact that most parts are purchased from the lowest bidder, Soooo your getting what you pay for...
23:20 July 15, 2010 by lenin_mir
...so ridiculous; absurd excuses!!! any other word to describe it? what an insult even to a kindergarten child!?!
23:22 July 15, 2010 by wxman
Come on, outside air temps of 90 degrees Fahrenheit are not that unusual, especially around Frankfurt.
23:49 July 15, 2010 by mikecowler
Whats so unbelievable about aircon not working on a train in Germany with temperatures the same as Riyad or Bahrain? If you want trains to cope with all wheather the world can throw at it, complain to your government that you would desperatly like them to take more money from you and increase fares for better trains....or put up with their contingency plans unti the adverse weather ends, and stop moaning..
20:24 June 7, 2011 by Werner SA
It appears that Global Warming has not been considered in the design of the air conditioners. Rising outdoor temperatures necessitate changing the capacity rating. ISO 13253 specifies 3 levels for capacity testing of air-cooled air conditioning units: T1 35⁰C for moderate climates, T2 27⁰C for cool climates and T3 46⁰C for hot climates. I only quoted the specifications of the outdoor temperatures. It is time that we accept the warmer summers and cater for it.
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