Clear train tracks of sewage pleads group

The Oban Times - - News - AMANDA CRAW­FORD fort@oban­times.co.uk

A COM­MU­NITY group is call­ing for an end to ‘dis­gust­ing’ waste dump­ing on Lochaber train tracks, fol­low­ing con­cerns about the health of rail­way work­ers.

Fort Wil­liam com­mu­nity coun­cil (FWCC) has been in touch with Bri­tish trans­port union RMT fol­low­ing a cam­paign it has cham­pi­oned to elim­i­nate sewage dump­ing on Scot­land’s rail tracks.

FWCC is call­ing for op­er­a­tor West Coast Rail­ways to im­ple­ment a sim­i­lar sys­tem on the Ja­co­bite steam train, which runs two trains through the West High­lands four times a day.

The plea from FWCC comes af­ter the union said it aims to have 40 per cent of ScotRail’s trains fit­ted with con­trolled emis­sion tanks by April 2016 and the re­main­der kit­ted out by De­cem­ber 2017.

At a meet­ing of FWCC, chair­man Neil Clark said: ‘ Work­ers on the tracks in Fort Wil­liam and Glen­finnan are get­ting splat­tered with hu­man ex­cre­ment.’

He called it ‘dis­gust­ing’ and said the RMT was al­ready of­fer­ing work­ers vac­ci­na­tions to pro­tect them from be­ing in­fected by un­treated hu­man ex­cre­ment.

Com­mu­nity coun­cil trea­surer Tr­isha Jor­dan added: ‘Although rail­way staff who work on the tracks are work­ing at night, they are hav­ing to work through the mess of the waste re­leased from the steam trains.

‘It was brought to our at­ten­tion last year when re­ports of a vile smell were sub­mit­ted to us. I think the only rea­son there haven’t been as many com­plaints is be­cause we have had a lot of wind and rain, whereas last sum­mer was scorch­ing. The heat would only have em­pha­sised the prob­lem.’

Di­rect dis­charge toi­lets have been in use since toi­lets on trains were in­tro­duced.

How­ever, in re­sponse to con­cerns from lo­cal public bod­ies, West Coast Rail­way has stopped mem­bers of the public us­ing the toi­lets while its trains are trav­el­ling.

A spokesman said: ‘It is only very re­cently that re­ten­tion tanks have been in­tro­duced, pri­mar­ily on new rolling stock.

‘The Ja­co­bite steam train which runs be­tween Fort Wil­liam and Mal­laig is not the only train which has di­rect dis­charge toi­lets.

In fact, all ScotRail ser­vices cur­rently have the same di­rect dis­charge toi­lets, with the ex­cep­tion of the Cale­do­nian Sleeper and Royal Scots­man which have re­ten­tion tanks.

‘RMT has been run­ning a cam­paign to stop the use of di­rect dis­charge toi­lets and West coast rail­ways is ex­am­in­ing ways of fit­ting re­ten­tion tanks to the her­itage car­riages.’

ON TRACK FOR CHANGE: the Ja­co­bite steam train on the Glen­finnan

viaduct.

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