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Train ride to Austria

Dear expert team,

I am planning to go to Austria on vacation by high-speed train shortly and am worried that I might not tolerate the air conditioning on the train. Is there any danger concerning the temperature regulation on the train for me as a CF patient? (Ca. 6 hours on the train.)

You have written a lot of interesting things about air conditioning in cars or on planes, but I am not sure about trains.

Kind regards.

You are planning a trip to Austria and would like to go by train, but you are worried that there might be health risks arising for you on the ca. 6-hour-long ride from the high speed train’s air conditioning (AC). Generally speaking, ACs in closed systems – among others, these include offices, planes, cars, or also modern trains – can be harmful for people who spend a longer period of time within these systems, if the AC is set up in a wrong way (e.g. producing a too cold or too warm room climate). A further risk comes from the filter systems of the ACs. If they are not properly cleaned and serviced, they can become contaminated with germs so that eventually dangerous bacteria or yeast-like fungi may be spread across the system via the AC and infect the people in it.

After receiving your question, we immediately tried to get answers from the German national railway company about the quality of their AC filter system via their customer service. We also asked them at what intervals the ACs are serviced and how this periodic maintenance is documented. Unfortunately, the only thing we learned during the four weeks that have passed since is that our enquiry was received and our questions were being dealt with.

Since you would probably like to start your trip within a foreseeable time frame, I would like to give you the following advice at this point: Book a seat in a small 6-person compartment rather than in a saloon carriage. In the latter, due to the large number of people constantly passing through, there will always be situations in which you will feel a draft because the doors are being opened. Also, there naturally will be a much greater number of contacts to people who might have an acute viral infection and spread it in their environment.

Enjoy your trip, and we will inform you as soon as we receive a further answer from the railway company.

Kind regards
Dr. H.-G. Posselt

Dear questioner,

in the meantime we received a detailed answer from the German railway company [the orginal answer is not listed here as the details refer to the German system, not transmittable to the European level].
In conclusion, the German railway company ensures that the filters of the air conditioning are changed very frequently ant that this is also documented accurately. Due to the frequent chage, a danger for the travellers resulting from a contamination of the filters (here especially due to a contamination with mould fungi) can be excluded with a certain secureness. The general recommendations from the first answer remain vaild irrespective of this information.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. H.-G. Posselt