Toilet waste on tracks becoming confined to history due to Greater Anglia’s greener new trains

Published on: Friday, 8 January 2021
Last updated: Friday, 8 January 2021

Trains emptying toilet waste directly onto tracks are rapidly becoming history as Greater Anglia is replacing all its old trains with more environmentally-friendly new trains.

All of Greater Anglia’s new trains collect toilet waste in large tanks so that waste can be flushed away safely at depots rather than let out onto tracks.

The tanks are emptied at least every three days at depots across the Greater Anglia network, as revealed in a behind the scenes video just published by the company, which shows how "Controlled Emission Toilets (CET)" are serviced.

Greater Anglia cleaning staff, wearing special protective safety gear, use vacuum-powered hoses to empty toilet tanks on trains. They then flush them through with water and empty them again.

The waste is sucked directly into the CET facilities at depots, where it is then disposed of into the sewers.

A separate hose is used to fill up water tanks on trains for toilet cisterns and provide tap water at wash basins.

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

Greater Anglia is getting 191 new trains in total – with a total of 442 toilets on board, including 191 accessible toilets. 66 new trains are already in passenger service, with most of the rest due this year.

In addition, 60 of the company’s old trains also have controlled emission toilets.

Stephanie Evans, Greater Anglia environment and energy manager, 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."

Greater Anglia’s new trains are fitted with large tanks, which should hold enough waste for over three days of average use from rail passengers.

Once the tanks are full, or the toilets’ cisterns and basins run out of water then the toilets automatically become out of order.

Eduard Szakacs from Greater Anglia train presentation beside CET facility at Orient Way

Computer diagnostics on board the train indicate toilet tank levels.

CET service facilities are in use at Orient Way, Ilford, Norwich Crown Point, Southend, Colchester and Cambridge depots. They are also due to be installed at Clacton depot.

Greater Anglia has recently published an environment and energy annual report listing actions the company is taking to make the railway as green as possible including introducing new more energy-efficient trains, cutting waste, increasing recycling and working with partners and communities on projects to improve sustainability and biodiversity at stations.

The report is available on the company’s website.