Four major railway stations have been tested for signs of the COVID-19 virus and given a clean bill of health.
Places passengers touch regularly like escalator handrails, ticket machines, and benches were swabbed, and hour-long air samples taken on station concourses at
London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations were tested in January and June 2021. Places passengers touch regularly like escalator handrails, ticket machines, and benches were swabbed, and hour-long air samples taken. Lab tests by Imperial College London showed no COVID-19 contamination of any surface tested or airborne particles of the virus in station or on trains.
Between the two testing dates, passenger numbers across all four stations rose by 287% as the pandemic lockdown eased.
The independent report, which was commissioned by Network Rail, concluded that the enhanced cleaning methods that have been adopted across the rail industry and the widespread wearing of face coverings by passengers are two key reasons for the negative results.
Rob Mole, senior programme manager for Network Rail’s COVID-19 response, commented: “Station cleaning teams and train staff have made it their mission to keep passengers safe during the pandemic and this is proof their dedicated approach works.
“We want all passengers to travel in confidence on the railway network and we will keep doing our part by rigorously cleaning trains and stations. We ask passengers to do their bit too by wearing face coverings while travelling out of respect for others so we can all stop the spread of COVID-19.”
David Green, senior research fellow at Imperial College London, added: “In the same way that a swab is used to take a COVID-19 test in the nose and throat and sent to the lab, we use a filter to collect any virus particles in the air and swabs to collect viruses on surfaces.
“This approach provides a way of quantifying the amount of virus circulating in these public environments and the effect of mitigation strategies like cleaning and wearing face coverings. This is part of a wider programme of work with the public transport sector to understand where this virus is most prevalent so that we can return to pre-pandemic activities as safely as possible.”