Passengers left steaming over air con

PUBLISHED: 16:25 04 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

RAIL passengers heading in and out of London have been left sweating it out as temperatures rocket in the soaring summer heat after air-conditioning equipment on trains broke down – because it's too hot!

RAIL passengers heading in and out of London have been left sweating it out as temperatures rocket in the soaring summer heat after air-conditioning equipment on trains broke down – because it's too hot!

The system on Anglia Railways' 30-year-old carriages that it uses on InterCity trains between Ipswich, Norwich and London struggles when the temperature goes above 25 degrees centigrade.

This week it has been nudging 30 – and up to 15 of the company's 120 carriages have struggled to cope.

"We've been taking on staff to correct the problems, but the root cause is that these carriages are quite old," said Anglia spokesman Peter Meades.

"We tried to recruit staff in the winter, but we needed people with specialist skills and they weren't easy to find.

"But we now have people working on these problems."

Mr Meades said there was usually only one or two carriages in each 10-coach train where the air conditioning wasn't working.

"Usually passengers can move to a carriage where it is working, but that isn't always possible at busy times," he said.

The company's new Turbostar trains are not affected by the problem.

At Ipswich station today passengers spoke of their frustration about the air conditioning problems.

"It has been getting bad for quite a long time now. I travel first class and you often find one or two of the three carriages don't have it working," said regular traveller Nick Green, from Framsden.

Another first class passenger, who did not want to be named, thought Anglia was trying to offer travellers a new service.

"It is very kind of them to offer us a travelling sauna – but they really ought to change the internal décor and introduced stripped pine," he said.

Glenn Thornton, from Ipswich, had complained about the air conditioning problems last year – and had been offered free tickets as compensation.

"I'm using them today, but it's pretty unpleasant if the air conditioning isn't working again," he said.

Pantelis Koul commutes daily from Ipswich to London.

"It isn't very nice. A number of the carriages don't have air conditioning and you have to stand between them with the windows open to get any air," he said.

But for Ian Groenewald the air conditioning problem wasn't his major concern.

"The trains don't have the services that you need," he said.

"You often can't get a coffee, and the other evening there were no lights on in first class."

While Anglia is struggling with high-tech air conditioning, Ipswich Buses have come up with a more down to earth solution to problems caused by the heat.

"Our vehicles don't have air conditioning," said managing director Malcolm Robson. "But we do insist they have large opening windows for this kind of weather.

"We do get problems with buses smelling very musty," he said diplomatically. "But now we've got a solution to that."

Just over half the company's fleet of 90 buses has so far been fitted with a dispenser to hold special air fresheners.

"We have started fitting these blocks to our buses. They cost £1.50 and last for six weeks – and it makes a tremendous difference," he said.

The air fresheners will be used around the year, not just during the summer.

"We may think of introducing more seasonal smells at different times of the year – we'll have to think of what to bring in then," Mr Robson added.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has offered a £10,000 prize to the first person who comes up with a viable way to cool down the London Underground.

On the day after travellers fainted because of heat, Mr Livingstone admitted that no-one had as yet figured out how to tackle air-conditioning problems on deep Tube lines.

He said the problem with installing air-conditioning on trains was that the heat would be transferred into the tunnels, raising temperatures on the platforms even more.

BLOB The hot weather is due to continue today and tomorrow, but from Friday onwards there will be the risk of heavy, thundery showers and storms.

Temperatures will head for the high 20s today and tomorrow, but over the weekend are expected to fall significantly with a maximum of 23 degrees centigrade by Sunday, according to the Meterological Office.

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