The experiment was conducted on 15 pairs of AC trains being run by the national transporter on the Rajdhani rail routes since 12 May 2020.
Indian Railways to revamp its AC train coaches! Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways is planning to install an Operation Theatre-like air-conditioning feature in its AC trains. With the help of a new system, fresh air will be pumped into AC coaches, replacing the circulated air which increases the chances of the spread of infections. According to a PTI report, the experiment was conducted on 15 pairs of AC trains being run by the national transporter on the Rajdhani rail routes since 12 May 2020. Now, as part of Indian Railways’ preparations for post-COVID operations, this system will be replicated in all AC trains. According to officials quoted in the report, just like in Operation Theatres, the Roof Mounted AC Package Unit (RMPU) system replaces air more than 16-18 times per hour.
Earlier, these AC trains of Indian Railways had the air being “changed” 6-8 times per hour. During that, 80% of the pushed air into these AC coaches was recirculated air, while 20% of the air was fresh air. With the increase in the number of air changes, however, there has been a 10-15% increase in energy consumption. According to an official, an AC uses recirculated air so that it gets cooler faster. When fresh air is used, it takes more time to cool, so there is an additional consumption of energy, he said.
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As passengers are no longer being provided linen, the centralized AC’s temperature has been increased by the national transporter from the usual 23 degrees to 25 degrees. According to officials, on the advice of health experts, the non-AC coaches have been modified by Indian Railways, which have been converted into isolation coaches for treating mild COVID-19 cases. They further said, to ensure that the disease does not spread, the national transporter has also applied Health Ministry guidelines to modify the AC units on board the special Rajdhani train services.
According to officials, as per the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry, centralized AC is acceptable if, inside an AC coach, complete air change takes place at least 12 times per hour. The report further mentioned that so far, only a study conducted by researchers of China has concluded that droplet transmission was prompted by AC ventilation. However, not many other studies have stated that AC use prompts coronavirus spread, the report added.