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RAIL union RMT has named and shamed eight privateer operators who still dump raw sewage from moving trains, posing a health risk to track maintenance workers.
Human faeces and urine are dropped from carriages travelling at speed every time that on-board toilets are flushed.
The sewage splatters on hitting the tracks and spreads to the lineside, where it sometimes spatters track maintenance workers. Some is dumped while trains are standing at stations.
RMT wants the operators to instal tanks under carriages to store the sewage, which can then be collected and disposed of hygienically and without risk to workers’ health.
Train operators promised to end the practice by the end of last year but have proved reluctant because of the cost of installing the tanks, says the union.
RMT has submitted questions to Parliament asking which operators were still dumping sewage onto the tracks.
The answers reveal that Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Northern, West Midlands Trains and Transport for Wales have all reneged on the promise.
RMT said there was still no end in sight for the dumping of human waste as the government has admitted that trains will still discharge waste onto the track at the end of this year.
Senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It beggars belief that in 2020 this government continues to allow train-operating companies to routinely dump raw sewage across our rail network and stations.
“It is utterly shameful that this foul and disgusting practice, which leaves our members out on the railways regularly sprayed with human sewage, continues in the midst of a global health pandemic.
“Promise after promise and deadline after deadline has been missed to end this practice once and for all and this revolting saga is now a totemic symbol of the decades-old failure of privatised railway.
“RMT demands that this practice ends now to ensure our members’ health and safety is put first.”
A statement by the Rail Delivery Group, the industry membership body, said: “Rail companies are working to put an end to this as we know it can be very unpleasant for workers and people who live next to the tracks.”
“We are investing to improve by refurbishing current trains while replacing half the fleet new for old, and by 2021 almost all 14,800 trains will have toilets that don’t deposit waste on tracks.”
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