by Tim Lezard – 16th November 2013, 8.00 GMT
companies dumping human sewage on the railway tracks after a government minister was forced to admit the
practice was “utterly disgusting.”
Transport minister Lady Kramer was confronted on the issue in a Lords debate this week, but although prepared
to condemn the filthy practice she refused to commit the government to taking action, instead urging the train
companies to act themselves – the same companies who profit out of not financing the cost of installing tanks and
employing staff to empty them.
When challenged on the issue, Lady Kramer said: “This is just utterly disgusting and I think it does speak to the
fact that customer service has not always been at the centre of railways because customers I think are very
concerned about this issue….. we could indeed use some help from the industry in trying to tackle that problem.”
RMT has refuted suggestions from within the industry that the issue has either never, or rarely, been raised as the
union has been campaigning on the scandal for at least decade and passengers have now launched their own
petition to get it stamped out.
Track workers have repeatedly pointed out that some sections of the rail infrastructure are like an open sewer and
that the human waste doesn’t simply hit the track bed, it sprays out when trains are travelling at speed posing a
serious and disgusting health risk to track-based staff. Rail works have been delayed because staff have been
confronted with pools of raw sewage.
One notorious spot is Liverpool Street Station where a government e-petition was recently launched by disgusted
passengers confronted by the daily sight of excrement on the tracks within the platform area.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: ”It really is a shocking indictment on the state of our railways 20 years
after privatisation, and with hundreds of millions of pounds a year being creamed off in private profits, that raw
sewage is still being dumped and sprayed across the tracks up and down the UK.
“Not only is it a filthy way of disposing of human waste, but it also poses real health risks and dangers for RMT
members out there working on the tracks. To claim that the union has not repeatedly raised the issue within the
industry is complete nonsense and we will now be renewing our campaign, alongside the passenger groups, to
end this appalling practice once and for all.
“There is no point the government politely requesting that the private train companies desist, they are the one’s
profiting out of this scandal by allowing it to continue in the full knowledge that it is both dangerous and
“This rotten practice should be stopped once and for all and the train companies should be the forced by the
government to pay the price for upgrading the trains and employing staff to empty the tanks.”
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