THE RMT has declared a dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway over the discovery of 'actionable traces' of legionella in seven toilets on four Class 700 Thameslink trains. The bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease, and is associated with water tanks and related systems.
The union said the fourth train was discovered on 9 August, and the company is removing it from traffic where 'reasonably practicable'. If it must remain in service the toilets affected will be isolated.
However, the RMT said this was ‘half hearted’. and an ‘inadequate approach’, which was ‘gambling with the health of passengers and staff alike’.
Thameslink has responded that there is 'no recorded case of anyone, ever, contracting legionella from a train'.
As well as declaring a dispute, the union is demanding an urgent meeting of the Joint Safety Committee and also a 'full disclosure' of the problem.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: 'RMT has been raising concerns over Legionella on the Siemens Thameslink fleet for weeks now and 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 and 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.'
Thameslink and Great Northern train services director Rob Mullen 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 refilled.'