Monday, December 21, 2009

Finally, an explanation for Eurostar failures that makes sense

In a previous comment on the Eurostar train failures, I discounted the notion of super-fine snow particles getting through the snow filters and melting once the train entered the Chunnel, causing electrical failures. However, someone has finally provided an explanation which doesn't assume we're a bunch of idiots, and which actually makes sense:

"Frederick Roots wrote:
"However, running a 25,000 volt electric train on a freezing line in powder snow for 125 miles from Paris to the Channel and then sending it into a humid tunnel with an ambient temperature of 25C will create huge amounts of condensation. High voltages like those used on these trains will create havoc in damp HV electronics for power control. Electrical arcing would soon destroy them. They need to be air cooled and at the same time they need to be dry so I'm not sure how easy it would be to stop this happening in the peculiar circumstances of the tunnel, unless large amounts of forced ventilation were used to cool the tunnel air in cold weather."

Perhaps Eurostar management assumed that the climate is getting warmer, as we've been told it would, and that the chances of such conditions existing in the near future were nil.

Still, this in no way excuses the incredibly incompetent way their passengers were treated after the trains failed, which bordered on criminal negligence or just plain sadism. Maybe they can earn some good will by providing an explanation like the one above for the initial failures, by convincing us that they've fixed the problem, by implementing a rapid rescue system, and by properly compensating those who were severely inconvenienced by the fiasco.