The railways may have spent heavily on installing blowers in new trains but commuters still prefer the age-old fans.
The blowers were installed in the Rs 20 crore state-of-the-art local trains manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai to reduce carbon dioxide levels in trains during peak hours.
But most commuters have complained that the blowers generate a lot of noise and are not helpful in circulating the air. The blowers were supposed to pump in 14,535 cubic metres of fresh air per hour inside each coach to maintain a stringent standard of air quality levels inside a crowded train. “The fans in new trains seem to be more powerful than the blowers. The vents are so small that hardly any air comes out of them. You can keep your hand and test it,” Shirish Rajan, a commuter said.
More than 80 new age trains have been fitted with blowers so far. The cost of installing a blower is Rs 3 lakh per coach, taking the total cost in a single 12-car train to Rs 36 lakh.
Railway officials said they would look into the matter. “Such problems are going to rise as summer sets in. People have not seen any major benefit with the blowers so far. The unbearable heat inside suburban trains then leads to rising temperatures and increasing number of fights,” Madhu Kotian, Mumbai Railway Pravasi Sangh said.
Blowers in the new train have been controversial since they were installed. During the 2008 monsoon, they faced problems such as leaking water inside the coach. Although the problem has now been fixed, commuters still don’t find them useful.
The railways had conducted a series of cardio tests during peak hours in a Virar-bound fast train fitted with these blowers. The tests revealed that carbon dioxide levels in the new trains were much lower compared with those in trains without the blowers.
The test also stated that blowers were particularly helpful during summer. The railways claimed that carbon dioxide levels in the new age trains ranged between 800 to 1,400 parts per million as against the 1,400 to 2,400 parts per million in the existing trains. A level above 5,000 ppm, can suffocate a person, while a level of 10,000 ppm could be fatal.
Railways have adopted global standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers that recommends a maximum indoor carbon dioxide concentration of less than 700 parts per million above the outdoor air concentration.