By Phil Marsh

Scotland on track to end toilet effluent being discharged onto railway

Published: 19th October 2015

Work on Class 156 trains shows the way forward

Scotland is to end the practice of dumping effluent from train toilets directly onto the track.

Completion of work on a Class 156 diesel train in the ScotRail fleet on 16 October “signifies the beginning of the end of the practice of trains discharging effluent onto Scotland’s railways”, according to the Scottish Government’s agency Transport Scotland.

The two-car unit is the first of 47 trains of the class leased by ScotRail to be fitted with Controlled Emission Toilets (CET) at the Knorr Bremse Rail Services plant in Springburn, Glasgow.

Nine units will be fitted with CET equipment before Christmas 2015 as part of a £382,000 package of work funded by Transport Scotland, the agency announced on 15 October.

The rest of these trains will be completed before December 2017, three years earlier than originally anticipated. This announcement follows calls from the RMT union for the practice to be ended as soon as possible because of concerns for railway workers.

They said:

Transport Scotland’s statement declared: “Beyond December 2017 there will be no ScotRail franchise-leased rolling stock discharging toilet effluent onto the track. As part of this commitment any new or refurbished vehicles introduced to the ScotRail fleet will also have CET equipment fitted as standard.”

Derek Mackay MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “The discharge of effluent onto the tracks is unpleasant for both staff and passengers and from day one it has been a priority of mine to end this practice in Scotland.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government has been able to work together with ScotRail to accelerate the initial timeframe for this, and we are investigating further measures to bring forward the completion date.”

Mr Mackay added: “This is a great example of ScotRail working with industry partners to deliver a project which benefits passengers and rail workers, and I am committed to ongoing discussions with the UK Government to also end this practice on cross-border operators.”

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “We’re really pleased to be rolling out the first of our Class 156 fleet with toilet tanks. From December 2017, ScotRail trains will no longer discharge effluent onto the tracks. This is a major improvement for Scotland’s railways and, by bringing the completion date forward, we are creating a much more pleasant environment for our employees and customers.”

The installation of CET equipment means that toilet waste is held within a hygienic tank on the train until being emptied at a suitable location, usually at a station or depot.

Royal Flush?

It is rumoured that the first train in the world to be fitted with retention toilets was the Royal Train

This is based, and has been for over 150 years, at the Knorr-Bremse operated railway Works at Wolverton (opened in 1838) on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. Employment there has risen three-fold in the last two years since previous operators Railcare went into Administration.

This historic Works is threatened with redevelopment by owners St. Modwen who wish to construct a new Works for Knorr-Bremse on half the site with a budget retail shop and around 375 dwellings on the other half.

This has created an interesting debate locally between those who wish to retain the historic site and those who claim houses are more important, as would be a new Works to guarantee jobs for the future.

What happens to The Royal Train based at Wolverton is unknown and not spoken about!

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