August 2009 in Train Operations
A reporter is concerned about the risk of drivers feeling drowsy and falling asleep as a result of problems with air conditioning and the level of oxygen in drivers‟ cabs on the Voyager fleet.
The air conditioning is not very effective - the air vent above the driver‟s head is supposed to open and close and emit cool air into the cab. The reporter notes that this flap very often gets stuck thereby not allowing cool, fresh air into the AC system. The likelihood of a driver feeling drowsy and possibly even falling asleep is therefore quite high.
Drowsiness is experienced by drivers, regardless of shift, journey length and despite having good rest between shifts. Although drivers are able to turn the air conditioning on and off, if it is switched off, drivers have no air coming in as there is no window to open. Drivers are therefore resorting to opening their cab doors for short periods of time, even though this practice is not allowed. The reporter is also aware of drivers taking high doses of caffeine and sugar, such as having a lot of strong coffee, sugary drinks, or taking caffeine tablets, which the reporter believes is not good for their health.
The reporter would like to see some modifications made to drivers‟ cabs, allowing fresh air to come in. A lack of maintenance appears to be causing the problem and needs to be addressed.
The cab air conditioning is serviced as follows:
It should be noted that recently, during the last spell of hot weather, cab air conditioning problems were reported by drivers. This resulted in dialogue with Bombardier and the introduction of a special fleet check to check the "health‟ of the system. This will baseline all cab units. The content of this daily check quoted above is being reviewed in the light of this special check.
Yes air quality can be measured if required, although I do not consider this necessary at present. We will arrange to ride some cabs during the next hot spell and undertake spot checks.