May 2012 in Network Rail and Suppliers
As previously raised in CIRAS report 40955, the use of 'old stock' trains has led to waste being directly flushed onto the track, as there are no containment tanks fitted on these trains. However, it is felt that when containment tanks are available they are not being used, as they are expensive to clean. Therefore flushing the waste directly on to the track seems to be favoured. Instances have also been seen where tanks are leaking waste, suggesting a problem with the seals.
Concern has also arisen about the health risks posed to passengers using certain stations as sometimes they are only metres away from waste on the tracks. A number of stations in particular have been highlighted - Romsey, Salisbury and Southampton.
For First Great Western (FGW):
For South West Trains (SWT):
For Network Rail:
Response from Network Rail
Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for bringing their concerns to our attention.
Could Network Rail confirm that cleaning will be undertaken at the three stations and when this will happen?
Network Rail can confirm that these locations have been cleaned recently; within the past three months. As a general comment we endeavour to arrange cleaning of each of these locations between two and four times a year. A further cleanse is planned for early in the new year for both Salisbury and Southampton, with Romsey later in the year as this location does not appear to have such an acute problem.
Is this part of regular maintenance and if so, could the routine cleaning be reviewed to ensure track cleaning, including toilet waste removal, occurs?
Although this activity is part of regular maintenance, we do encourage staff to report to management should these locations require additional cleaning between visits already scheduled. Additional cleaning is also arranged prior to large work activities planned at those sites.
Response from South West Trains
South West Trains share the reporters' concerns regarding train toilet waste. We have systems in place to prevent our rolling stock from discharging onto the track bed and to remove waste from other train operators rolling stock at South West Trains operated stations, in association with Network Rail.
Please comment on the use of containment tanks and any plans in place to control the risk of toilet waste leaking onto the tracks.
South West Trains operate Class 444 and 450 Desiro electric units and Class 158 and 159 diesel units over this route. All Desiro units are fitted with retention tanks and these tanks have not been identified as leaking on any occasion, neither have leaks been found during maintenance.
These units are fitted with float switches inside the retention tank, which automatically lock toilets out of use before the tank reaches full, so the potential for overflow is very low. The Class 158 and 159 fleets are also fitted with retention tanks and, again our Fleet Engineers confirm that no leaks have ever been reported and none have been found during maintenance.
Therefore we are confident that toilet waste that is found in the South West Trains area track bed comes from other train operators' rolling stock.
Are SWT responsible for ensuring that Salisbury and Southampton stations are clear of toilet waste?
Our track access agreements require us to contribute towards the cleaning of tracks both inside and outside station boundaries at both of these locations.
Network Rail are responsible for cleaning litter from the track bed - this includes toilet waste from rolling stock and, is included in their track cleaning regime.
South West Trains have highlighted this CIRAS report to Network Rail to make them aware and to initiate the assessment and track cleaning process.
Response from First Great Western
First Great Western has responded to previous
reports regarding the issue of toilets discharging waste directly
on to the track. The existing fleet of FGW trains, namely 153s 150s
and 158s, which we lease and operate across this area are not
fitted with retention tanks. Whilst we recognise that it is
desirable that the majority of railway rolling stock should be
fitted with retention tanks it is not a requirement for those
trains which are currently operated within the existing First Great
Western franchise. However the issue of retention capabilities of
rolling stock operated by future franchises is subject to
Department for Transport (DfT) strategy.
Network Rail is responsible for track washing. Whereas the frequency of track litter picking can be directly influenced by the station operator the frequency of track washing, which is also a Network Rail responsibility, is not a part of the qualified expenditure agreements. However, following the reporters' comments concerning the state of the track at Romsey the Station Manager responsible for that line of route will raise the matter at the next Network Rail monthly interface meeting.