A union has declared a dispute with a rail operator, saying there has been a “potentially fatal” outbreak of Legionella on its trains.
The National Railway, Shipping and Transportation Union (RMT) said it had prepared its members on Thameslink for strikes if urgent action was not taken to address the issue.
The company said a low level of Legionella was found in a small number of toilets, which had been emptied and laundered.
The RMT said seven toilets out of four trains had actionable traces of the bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease.
The union claimed that after the latest discovery, the toilet had been isolated, describing it as an “unenthusiastic and inadequate” approach, and called for an urgent meeting of the company’s safety committee.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT has been raising concerns for weeks now, and the company’s latest cavalier approach is woefully inadequate and is an outright bet with the health of passengers and staff.
“We have now declared a dispute and, without a doubt, if we do not get serious action, we will vote our members and do whatever is necessary to end this reckless approach to a potentially fatal situation on these trains. more and more busy. “
Rob Mullen, Director of Rail Services at Thameslink, said: “A very low level of Legionella has been found in testing in a small number of our Thameslink Class 700 train toilets.
“Although it is extremely unlikely that this will cause damage to passengers or their colleagues, the affected toilets were immediately taken out of use.
“The trains have been taken out of service and these toilets have now been emptied, laundered and their tanks completely filled.
“There is no recorded case of anyone ever having contracted [legionnaires’ disease] of a train.
The company added in a statement, “Legionella can potentially be spread by atomized water droplets in the air in enclosed spaces, but the water in our toilets is gravity fed, making this extremely unlikely and further reduces the already very low risk. However, as a precaution, we immediately closed the affected toilets and put these trains out of service.
“The affected toilets have been completely emptied, bleached and refilled to rectify this situation. “