Strikes threatened over outbreak of legionella bacteria on trains

bbc– A rail union has threatened strike action after a “potentially lethal” legionella outbreak was uncovered on Thameslink trains.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is in dispute with the operator after trace amounts of legionella was found on toilets on four trains.

Thameslink said the toilets have been drained and bleached.

The RMT said the operator’s response was “half-hearted and inadequate” and called for an emergency meeting.

Seven toilets on four trains had actionable traces of the bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease the union said.

Left untreated Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal. Legionella is also linked to a milder flu-like illness called Pontiac fever.

The union called for an urgent meeting of the company’s Joint Safety Committee.

‘Reckless approach’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT has been raising concerns for weeks now.

“The latest cavalier approach from the company is pitifully inadequate and is an outright gamble with passenger and staff health.

“We have now declared a dispute. Be in no doubt, if we don’t get serious action we will ballot our members and do whatever is required to end this reckless approach to a potentially lethal situation on these increasingly busy trains.”

Rob Mullen, train services director at Thameslink, said: “A very low level of legionella was found to be present during testing in a small number of our Thameslink Class 700 train toilets.

“While it is extremely unlikely this would cause any harm to passengers or colleagues, the toilets affected were immediately locked out of use.

“The trains were taken out of service and these toilets have now been drained, bleached and had their tanks completely re-filled.

“There is no recorded case of anyone, ever, having contracted legionella from a train.”

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