Train operator set to end practice of waste on tracks

Eduard Szakacs from Greater Anglia train presentation removes vacuum hose after extracting waste

Eduard Szakacs from Greater Anglia train presentation removes vacuum hose after extracting toilet waste - Credit: Greater Anglia

The launch of a new fleet of Greater Anglia trains will mean an end to toilet waste being flushed on to the tracks.

Although a number of the operator's older trains were retro-fitted with larger tanks to avoid the practice, the replacement of all of its old trains with 191 new ones means it will be eradicated completely, the company says.

Greater Anglia's  old fleet - which it hopes to have replaced completely with its new fleet by the end of this year if possible -  includes 60 trains which were retro-fitted with tanks.

There are 131 trains - comprising sets of four carriages - which use the old flushing onto tracks system and these will be phased out shortly.

But the more environmentally-friendly new trains are all equipped with Controlled Emission Toilets (CET) including large tanks which are emptied at least every three days at depots across its network.


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Greater Anglia cleaning staff wearing special protective safety gear use vacuum-powered hoses to empty the tanks then flush the tanks through with water and empty them again. The waste goes into the sewerage system.

A separate hose fills the train's water tanks to serve the toilet cisterns and wash basin taps.

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A total of 66 of the 191 new trains are now in service and are equipped with 191 accessible toilets and 442 toilets in total.

Environment and energy manager Stephanie Evans said: “Toilets which collect waste rather than dumping it on the tracks are one of the many environmental benefits of our new trains.

“It’s another way that we are reducing our environmental impact and it will also help to improve the local environment for passengers at stations, residents living near railway lines and Network Rail’s track workers.

“We would like to remind passengers on old trains without controlled emission toilets not to flush the toilet at stations.”

A computer on board the trains indicates toilet waste tank levels and facilities close automatically if they are full. They are emptied at depots in Orient Way, Ilford, Norwich Crown Point, Southend, Colchester and Cambridge, with a further CET service facility due to be launched at Clacton.

The new trains include air conditioning, plug and USB points and free wifi.


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