Melbourne cabin temperatures on Metro Trains

 
  NSWGR8022 Chief Train Controller

Location: From the lands of Journalism and Free Speech
has anyone noticed the air conditioning on Metro Train services is running rather hot in the mornings to the point where it is a sweat box by the third station?

Why is Metro not running the air conditioning for its customers?

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Simple:

  • To save money on capital equipment, Maintenance and running costs
  • The airconditioning is defective
  • The train is a Comeng where the airconditioning has never and will never work adequately
  • To fool half the passengers who think that by running the fans they think that the airconditioning is actually working

The time is long overdue for a series of  thorough, independently conducted, tests to be undertaken on all suburban and country trains to cover the temperature but, more importantly, the air quality and the recirculation percentages.

It won't happen of course.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
After reading this thread I turned my attention to the temperature in the metro train this morning.  The carriage was not overloaded with all seats taken and maybe 20 standing as it left my station.  The carriage was stuffy and humid.  Noticed this more when the doors were opened at the stations.  It was cooler outside tan inside the carriage.

This was at 7.40am.

I now conclude there maybe some truth in Metro not running the aircon on a respectable temperature or not at all.
  ARodH Chief Train Controller

Location: East Oakleigh, Vic
I once thought of building some temperature/humidity loggers with off the shelf parts and deploying them on a number of train carriages, but I couldn't work out the retrieval step. That and I suspect doing it now would shut down the network as it could be seen as terrorist activity.
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Hello All,

The air conditioning in all Metro trains are thermostat controlled . Ther used to be an annual change over of AC units for overhaul , usually during spring to ensure all sets were ready for the summer heat.

There is no point in not maintaining the AC as a dead AC leads to the Unit being withdrawn as the trains will rapidly overheat in the Underground Loop if the AC is dead, and that can cause all sorts of problems.

Having said that the settings for the thermostats are done by maintenance staff , therefore one cannot rule error or a direction to change the setting by one degree , which would make a noticeable difference.

( One degree in a freezer can be the difference between correct temperature and rotting food )

Regards, Radioman
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Hello All,

The air conditioning in all Metro trains are thermostat controlled . Ther used to be an annual change over of AC units for overhaul , usually during spring to ensure all sets were ready for the summer heat.

There is no point in not maintaining the AC as a dead AC leads to the Unit being withdrawn as the trains will rapidly overheat in the Underground Loop if the AC is dead, and that can cause all sorts of problems.

Having said that the settings for the thermostats are done by maintenance staff , therefore one cannot rule error or a direction to change the setting by one degree , which would make a noticeable difference.

( One degree in a freezer can be the difference between correct temperature and rotting food )

Regards, Radioman
Radioman
Sorry Radioman on this we do not agree.

OK, so the airconditioning is thermostatically controlled which I do not doubt. On this basis why is the temperature so dramatically different between individual carriages and trains? I can think of only 5 reasons:

  1. The thermostats are rubbish.
  2. The fans run but the 'airconditioning' unit is defective. This saves/avoids trains being taken out of service because all and sundry think that if the fans are running the airconditioning is working and unless passengers collapse who knows or cares.
  3. The filters are blocked.
  4. The driver is OK as he/she can open their window and he/she does not consider the mug passengers. Is it possible for the driver to run the fans but not the actual airconditioning? (I'm alright jack ?????)
  5. Maintenance is skimped or non existent.

On almost all Comengs a station (any station) is something to look forward to when the doors are opened and one can get a breath of fresh air. Even underground air is frequently cooler and certainly fresher than inside air. Either way it is undoubtedly better than no air.

The occasional (rare) Comeng airconditioning works well but most do not. There has to be a reason.

Generally Siemens and Xtraps seem to work OK.

Someone should conduct some independent air quality tests especially on the Comengs. It won't happen, of course.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
has anyone noticed the air conditioning on Metro Train services is running rather hot in the mornings to the point where it is a sweat box by the third station?

Why is Metro not running the air conditioning for its customers?
NSWGR8022
Simple - to save money...........
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Dear YM-Mundrbilla ,

The driver has no control over the air conditioning , and it tends not to be very effective in the leading cab primarily due to the vast expanse of glass, hence the reason why many sparks have a driver door open on a hot day. ( Xtrapolis in particular )

Your items 1,2&5 may be correct , but I seem to recall the blocked filters bring up a fault light , i am guessing due to a potential fire hazard.

My travels these days are off peak and the Comengs that I ride in seem to have OK AC. My only suggestion is to bring it to the attention of the train driver if possible as that would allow him to submit a defect report to Metrol on the basis of the complaint .

The other problem could be that the fault is restricted to one vehicle therefore the train driver will not be aware of the problem if a passenger does not tell them.

On a related matter I am aware that Metrol does get complaints from passengers about not hearing announcements regarding late or altered running due to the PA not working in the rear half of the train. Unless their is a passenger complaint the train driver has no indication telling them that the rear set PA is not working.

I fully agree that trains should be properly maintained, and I am aware that some faults are not rectified for a considerable time , though this is not the fault of the train driver . Cutting back on train maintenance only saves money in the short term , long term it increases damage and failure rates and repairs become both more expensive and more time consuming .

Best wishes and regards, Radioman
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Thanks Radioman for your informative response.

My concerns/comments (whatever) are interspersed with your post below:

My only suggestion is to bring it to the attention of the train driver if possible as that would allow him to submit a defect report to Metrol on the basis of the complaint .

I would never consider using the emergency intercom to 'complain' about the airconditioning (or lack thereof) to the driver. The topic is too subjective to be taken seriously by the driver and if he/she does and reports it to Metrol would Metrol take any notice and would Maintenance take any notice of Metrol? In this chain of communications someone, somewhere, along the way would likely say 'silly old bastard' - there's nothing wrong with it despite the ambient temperature being 20C lower than at the time of the complaint!

On a related matter I am aware that Metrol does get complaints from passengers about not hearing announcements regarding late or altered running due to the PA not working in the rear half of the train. Unless their is a passenger complaint the train driver has no indication telling them that the rear set PA is not working.

This is similar problem to the airconditioning where one may never hear an announcement at all but more likely an 'interest whetting' series of static, screeches, squawks all couple with perhaps poor diction. Some work very well (even on Comengs) but many not so well.

I fully agree that trains should be properly maintained, and I am aware that some faults are not rectified for a considerable time , though this is not the fault of the train driver . Cutting back on train maintenance only saves money in the short term , long term it increases damage and failure rates and repairs become both more expensive and more time consuming.

I agree that none of this may be the fault of the driver but, so far as cutting back on maintenance goes, pretty much everything these days is short term KPIs. I will be gone before it all blows up for the next bloke (bit like politicians).

To sum up, my broad attitude is:

If it is not a safety issue, I shut up, do nothing, don't make trouble, put up with it as if you do complain you might get some eager beaver who will cancel your train chuck you out half way and you will have nothing.

Damned if I know what the answer is - move to Switzerland, perhaps! Smile

Thanks for your recent posts - they are a breath of fresh (airconditioned, of course) air on here.
  Lockspike Deputy Commissioner

Cutting back on train maintenance only saves money in the short term, long term it increases damage and failure rates and repairs become both more expensive and more time consuming.
Radioman
Metro do not have the best interests of Melbournians at heart. They are running trains in Melbourne for one reason and one reason only - to extract the greatest profit possible. Metro is controlled by bean counters who cannot consider long term implications. It's not that they don't want to, it's that they are ignorant of the concept of long term thinking, ignorance ingrained by training and years of conditioning. The only goal is to have the best possible figures at the end of the next accounting period.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

woodford makes a comment..............

Could it be the equipment is just suffering old age, the youngest a Comeng can be is 27 years, and believe me maintaining and airconditioning system that was installed something like 30 years ago is no picnick. Its unlikely there would be any original style spares. One can always modify a system to cater for new style control gear, but the mounting will be different, the terminals to small, theres an excellent chance voltage levels will be not compatible, etc, etc, on and on and on........... That though brings up a whole new nest of problems in what care the new gear is installed with AND HAS ANYONE SEEN FIT to update any of the records, a common issue if a technician is pressed for time.  

If the airconditioning has been refurbished has it just been "reconditioned" or has the whole shooting match been replaced entirely. The latter in the end the only real way to "recondition" 30 year old airconditioning.

A VERY serious problem we found where I worked as a tech was the difficulty one had in finding people that REALLY knew how to correctly diagnose problems in industrial airconditioning. We ended up getting a book on such equipment to work out how it worked so we could confidently say "this part is faulty and here is the evidence that points to it". WE did WAY better in looking after the gear after that.

woodford
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'If the airconditioning has been refurbished has it just been "reconditioned" or has the whole shooting match been replaced entirely. The latter in the end the only real way to "recondition" 30 year old airconditioning.'

The usual balanced and informed Woodford comment. There was a hoo-haa some years ago over Comeng airconditioning which was failing in service.

IIRC the equipment was under specified in the first place but the political assurances (spin ?) given at the time of the failures was that it was to be replaced/overhauled. I don't remember which but to a great extent whatever was done was pretty much a waste of money.
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Dear YM - Mundrabilla ,

Thank you for your generous comments, much appreciated.

As I recall in the mid 1980s the Comeng AC was replaced and subsequently they did the annual swap out overhaul as we observed the trucks with the new and refurbished units go past us in Batman Ave . The manufacturer was Sigma ( I do not know what their current name is ) and the replacement units were a lot better.

Having said that it is a big ask of any AC for it to be running continuously while the doors are open at a terminus station. The later Siemens Networkers and Alstom Xtrapolis which have automatically closing doors are an improvement in this regards . Although some drivers do close the Comeng doors virtually all subsequent passengers never close the door behind them . ( tent dwellers according to a workmate ! )

As an aside I remember having an informal chat with the retired CTM Jack Blencowe who remarked that manufacturers would assure him that their equipment world at Minus 10 Degrees Celsius , but when queried about working at Plus 50 Degrees Celsius the subject was quickly changed !

Best wishes and regards, Radioman.
  Gavin J Junior Train Controller

Location: Stawell
Being a Spark Driver from 1990 to 2013, I can comment on the air conditioner problems from
that era.

In 1990, Comeng air-conds would regulary fail during the summer months, with an air cond
fault light in the cab alerting the driver. The driver would report it to Metrol, and on
arrival at Flinders St, the fitters would inspect it and reset the defective unit,
which (as we would joke), that it will last until 'over the viaduct'.
The air cond now worked, it was fixed, and the train kept going....but usually by
Richmond , you would get the air cond light again, which you would report, the fitter
would meet you at Flinders St and reset it......all over again.
This happened days/weeks/years on end.

Likewise some older commuters might remember on arrival at a destination, the driver
would drop the pantographs, essentially the same as resetting the circuit breaker (c/b),
and by the time he changed ends, the aircond would come good, for 5-10-15 minutes then
fail again.
You then reported it, the fitter met you at Flinder St...etc etc ...and the trains kept
running for years doing this procedure.

During the mid 90s, the resetting of the c/b was disconnected ??, and the practice no
longer worked. If a fault came up, the fitters had to actually fix it in the yards,
thus we had the summers of about 96/97 where, by a summers evening, just about every
Comeng had been shunted out with air cond faults, and the evening services were run by
the ever reliable and non air cond Hitachis.

The Comengs would be shutdown, then restarted by the fitters at midnite, by which time it
was a lot cooler obviously, no fault lites, air cond worked well, and the fault was
"checked ok no fault found"
Next afternoon on a 38c day, it would fail, shunt and all of the above would occur.
This also went on for years......

Every distastrous summer, Management promised to service the air conds before summertime
sometimes successfully, othertimes not so. Excuses of lack of maintanance, no
maintenance, dirty filters, lack of parts etc....but every year, Drivers hoped it would
be a good summer and not one of putting up with, booking, arguing, complaining of faulty
air conds.

The Fault Management Protocol(FMP) then came in, listing faults and their deferment
periods
before things had to be fixed. Air conds over the years have gone from Finish Run (shunt
out on arrival) to 1 Peak and 2 peak faults.
The great thing about the FMP was you could look up the history of faults....so you could
look up to find 89M, which you were sweet talked to run, had in fact had its air cond
booked every day for the last 2 weeks......but, "just one more run driver."
Metrol would always try to get another run out of defective airconds and driver apathy
also made passengers suffer badly.

Travelling in from Glen Waverley one stinking hot day, the driver had lost both air conds
on an Xcrapper, the poor passsengers would have been roasting. The driver was reluctant
to report it, as it would cancel the train......and he hoped going over the tramway
squares at Gardiner or Kooyong would reset it (no chance).
Passengers were pressing the emergency button to report it, many got off the train.
The driver finally reported it at Burnley, Metrol made it a finish run fault, and it
formed an Epping train on arrival, with passengers in the evening peak.
They essentially got 2 more trips out of it, and there was no saying they tried to sweet
talk the driver at Epping to run it back in !

Talking about that, Management would actually bribe us with an icy pole and a can of
drink to take trains with defective air conds ! The Principal Driver would tell you the
sob story that they were very short of trains, they would say that you were going home
anyway, they would give you a can of coke or an icy pole and hopefully you would say you
would run it, in a cab with a temp of 50c. Of course the passengers were made to suffer,
but they didn't care about them, only if the driver was happy.
This practice also went on for years,   in Government hands during the old Met days
as well as Hillside and Connex and Bayside. Metro never bribed us with icy poles and
drinks, they'd just put you on a code of conduct for refusing to run it !!

Which brings us to the almighty Xcrapper !!

The Xcrapper cab airconds were very poor at first, but only a handful of Drivers bothered
to report them. At one stage all Xcrappers had thermometers on the cab wall so you could
actually include the temperature in the booking, "Air cond, very poor air flow, currently
45c in cab"
I've got a photo of one showing 50c. Unfortunately, most were souveniered by my fellow
workmates (they were stuck on with velcro) and were not replaced.

Xcraps have 2 HVAC units (Heating Ventalition And Cooling), operating down either side of
the carriage.From day one, the air cond acted strangely, in the cab the left vent would
blow hot air and the right vent would blow cold air......you would report it, but it was
never fixed.

Likewise in the saloon the similar would occur.
In the cab the air cond might be on heat setting at flinders st, but by the loop the
thing would blow cold air all the way to Glen Waverley.....so i would book it. on arrival
at Glen Waverley you would enter the rear unmanned cab and it would be lovely and warm,
after you just froze all the way home, so cold air in leading cab, warm air in trailing
cab.
Meanwhile in the saloons it was freezing, it would be actually warmer outside the
carriage.
Only a few drivers booked it, and the problem was still occuring in 2013 , 9 years later
and going by the complaints on the Metro twitter feed in 2017, it still occurs.

When the second  lot of Xcraps arrived I was fortunate to have a head man from Alstom
ride up front and i asked him. The problem arises because the trains do not need 2 HVACs,
so what happens is, first thing in morning, both HVACs will start up....so nice and
warm/cool, but when it reaches the themostat temp, 1 HVAC will drop out and go into
ventaliation mode, thus cold air in winter, hot air in summer.
so on the left side of the carrage it will be blowing cool (air condioned) air, the  
right side will only be in ventation mode, thus just circulate the hot or cold air from
outside.
he said they could fix it, but haven't been asked, but this problem seems to be very
common in a lot of multi air cond situations.

Also the air conds are very tempramental on voltage, this explains why a carriage might
be ok one section and not the next, as if the voltage falls, it will shutdown the air
cond to protect it.....then when voltage returns, it will go back on.
This shutting down of the aircond is not displayed as a fault light, as it is assumed
after a few minutes, it will be ok.

Coming in from Glen Waverley  on a freezing cold morning, the ol Xcrap would be blowing
warm air leaving Glen Waverley, turn cold climbing hill out of Syndal, past Mount
Waverley substation, then come good by East Malvern sunstation, go cold again at Glen
Iris, heat by Kooyong, cold at Heyington and stay warm from Burnley to Richmond jcn, then
be cold on arrival at Flinders St.
The sad thing was most drivers did not notice it !!, thus didn't complain, thus it was
never fixed !!!!

Passengers suffered for years with no complaints.....when I had to put a wheelchair on,
on a freezing winters day, you would open the saloon door to put the wheelchair ramp
down, and be blasted by the cold air cond from the vents above the door .....many a time
I'd comment to passengers, "its freezing in here, the air conds blowing cold air, why
don't you complain."
(blank stares  from the passengers !!)

Changing ends at Lilydale during winter, I would walk thru saloon, shaking my head, as it
would be freezing inside, blasts of artic cold air blowing out the aircond ducts !!
I bought a digital thermometer at one stage and videoed the change in temperature on a
run from Glen Waverley   with temps ranging from 12c to 30c in the cab ,depending on
which sub station section it was in.
You could book the defective air cond with a quote of the temperature blasted out the
vents "blowing 9c on a freezing winter morning"
but it was always "checked ok, no fault found" by the fitters !!

I had a cab air cond one freezing winters night that varied from 9c to 40c, you could
either freeze or cook.I reported it, then at Westgarth we had a loss of signal power and
I was stuck there for 2 hours from 11pm to 1am. This is when I had my very first
passenger complaint, as the passengers told me it was freezing in the saloons.....it was
a winters night, i checked and it was 9c in the saloons.....i booked that as well....the
fitters said it was 'checked ok, no fault found'

Another trick that Connex would play was to disconnect the fault lights on Comengs, so
you had no fault light to report. if a passenger complained it was too hot/cold and there
were no fault lites in the drivers cab, you could not report it, as there was no fault
category of 'passengers say air cond not working.'

Likewise on Xcrap, they had a time delayed fault lite, as early on they had a software
update that caused the air conds to fail for approx 5 mins after heavy powering/braking,
especially on a Glen Waverley , so to avoid drivers reporting 'both hvacs out' which
would cancel the train, the fault lites would not display,....and hopefuly after 5
minutes they would reset and be ok, and the driver is none the wiser.

I believe similar with the Siemans trains when they first started, you could have half
the train with no air cond with no fault lites, and at one stage the Union told drivers
to walk thru the cars at terminus's to see if  the air conds were working.

By the time I left in August 2013, i think trains could still run with defective airconds
and if the driver arched up, he was taken upstairs to explain his actions....but going by
the number of bookings by the passengers (sad in itself) on the Metro Twitter everyday,
it seems to be getting worse and not better....and some of the excuses by Metro are
absolutely laughable....

Oh, i do not miss the horrible world of Metro !!
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Brilliant Gavin. Thanks.
I didn't think that I dreamed up that nightmare.Smile
  woodford Chief Commissioner

The problem with refrigerated airconditioning systems is they MUST work on a specific heat load, if it is built to handle 200 people in a single car on a 40 degree day, there us an EXCELLENT chnace it will not work on a 30degree day with 20 people in the car. The ONLY way to et around this build a variable capacity system, these are more complex, cost much more and from my experince more unrelaible, and sadly as I have already stated are not understood properly by most air conditioning tehnicians..Gavins story does NOT surprise me in the least, been there done that and have got the scars to prove it.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Post script to the above, I have stated that a basic refigerated air conditioning system nneds to work with a fixed heat load, If they are working well out side this heat load it is definitely possible to damage the system quite easily.As aconsequence there is often a fault detection system to try and prevent this.

Off topic a bit one thing you do NOT want to do as turn a running system off and immediatley turn it back on again,one needs to wait around 2 or 3 minutes for the pressures in the system to equalise as its not generall possible for the compressor to start against its normal output running pressure.

woodford
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
The AC in a car will sometimes have to be "regassed", because some of the refrigerant has leaked out.  Does this also happen with the AC in trains?

Absolutely blown away by Gavin's long list of woes ......
  woodford Chief Commissioner

The AC in a car will sometimes have to be "regassed", because some of the refrigerant has leaked out.  Does this also happen with the AC in trains?

Absolutely blown away by Gavin's long list of woes ......
"Lad_Porter"


All compressor style AC  will require "regassing", AC for vehicles and Industrial style AC that use  screwed connections will always require regular monitoring of the static gas pressure. "Packaged" AC, ie the ones that go in windows and such like) are generally much better but even these will have points to regass them. Some large scale industrial AC have pressure gauges on then so one can monitor both the static gas pressure and how the system is working, the compressor outlet pressure going higher as the heat load increases

As stated Gavin's tale of woes did not surprise me, we found there were plenty of good AC mechanics, that could do a wonderfull job of changing components. But found there were few that could diagnose a problem.. In one instance we had a fault reported on one of our large systems, I went down and had  a look and came to the conclusion the compressor outlet pressure transducer had failed, the cooling tower fans not being operational. This was a standard industrial electrical component so instead of calling in the AC people and getting another "run around" I called in one of the local electricians to check out the faulty sensor (just in case he could fix it,the fault was crook terminal in the sensor).and he was able to give a complete and accurate explanation of how the compressor and all the sensors worked,something one could never get out of the AC repairers.

woodford.

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