Passenger train converted into Covid-19 testing station

Ben Mitchell, PA
·2-min read

A passenger train has been converted into a rapid lateral flow Covid-19 testing station for railway staff.

The Southern Class 313 Coastway train stationed at platform 8 of Brighton station will be used with two other bases to test up to 1,250 workers for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express.

Mark Whitley, GTR head of safety and health, said: “One-in-three people with Covid show no symptoms. These tests are the latest in a long line of measures we’ve been taking to protect our colleagues and will help identify carriers before they have the potential to infect others.

“It will help prevent workplace outbreaks and, along with regular sanitising, give our staff and passengers added reassurance.”

A team leader carrying out a swab test
A team leader carrying out a swab test onboard the Class 313 Coastway train (Govia Thameslink Railway/PA)

Brad Lade, an onboard supervisor with Southern who has volunteered as one of the team of 15 testers, said: “I wanted to do something which will benefit people, to give them and my family peace of mind that my colleagues and I are Covid-free.”

Other measures being taken by GTR include sanitising its 2,700 carriages each night using long-lasting viricide, providing 1,000 touch-free hand sanitiser points, the introduction of a staff app to monitor passenger volumes and increased use of e-tickets.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for the Rail Delivery Group which represents the rail industry, said: “Implementing the use of lateral flow testing will help identify asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 and, alongside train operators’ enhanced cleaning, is helping to make work safer for our people and ensure those who need to travel can do so with confidence.”

Other GTR testing sites are at its offices in East Croydon and at Hornsey engineering depot in north London.