Rail News

DATE

September 07 , 2021


Rail workers threaten to strike over legionella toilet outbreak

The Guardian 
 23 Aug 2021 (UK)

RMT union calls for urgent meeting after ‘potentially lethal’ bacteria found in Thameslink trains

A union has declared a dispute with a rail operator, claiming there has been a “potentially lethal” legionella outbreak on its trains.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said it has prepared its members on Thameslink for strikes if urgent action is not taken to resolve the issue.

The company said a low level of legionella had been found in a small number of toilets, which had been drained and bleached.

The RMT said seven toilets on four trains had actionable traces of the bacteria, which can cause legionnaires’ disease.

The union claimed that, after the latest discovery, toilets were isolated, describing it as a “half-hearted and inadequate” approach, and called for an urgent meeting of the company’s safety committee.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “RMT has been raising concerns for weeks now, and the latest cavalier approach from the company is pitifully inadequate and is an outright gamble with passenger and staff health.

“We have now declared a dispute and, be in no doubt, if we don’t get serious action we will ballot our members and do whatever is required to end this reckless approach to a potentially lethal situation on these increasingly busy trains.”

Rob Mullen, the train services director at Thameslink, said: “A very low level of legionella was found to be present during testing in a small number of our Thameslink Class 700 train toilets.

“While it is extremely unlikely this would cause any harm to passengers or colleagues, the toilets affected were immediately locked out of use.

“The trains were taken out of service and these toilets have now been drained, bleached and had their tanks completely refilled.

“There is no recorded case of anyone, ever, having contracted [legionnaires’ disease] from a train.”

The company added in a statement: “Legionella can potentially be spread through atomised water droplets in the air in enclosed spaces, but water in our toilets is gravity-fed, which makes this extremely unlikely and further lowers the already very low risk. However, as a precaution, we immediately closed the affected toilets and took these trains out of service.

“The toilets affected have been completely drained, bleached and re-filled to rectify this situation.”

Source
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/23/rail-workers-threaten-to-strike-over-legionella-toilet-outbreak

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