This Is How Much Covid-19 Has Been Found At Stations And On Trains

Escalator handles, ticket machines, benches and station air were all tested for traces of the virus.

No traces of coronavirus were found in tests at four major railway stations and on intercity train services, Network Rail has said.

Experts swabbed the places passengers touch most regularly such as escalator handles, ticket machines and benches, and also took hour-long air samples.

Two rounds of testing were carried out at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly station in January and then again in June.

Tests were also repeated on trains running between the stations. Examination of the results by Imperial College London found no Covid-19 contamination of any surface, or airborne particles of the virus.

David Green, senior research fellow at Imperial College London, said: “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,” he added.

Network rail staff clean stations for Covid-19.
Network rail staff clean stations for Covid-19.

“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,” Green added.

Rob Mole, senior programme manager for Network Rail’s pandemic response, said: “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.

He added: “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.”

Despite the government dropping the legal requirement for people to wear face coverings in settings such as public transport on July 19, scientists have recommended the public continue to take precautions while travelling.

Dr Julian Tang, honorary associate professor and clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, previously told HuffPost UK that as well as opening windows to improve ventilation, the best way to mitigate against the risk of transmitting Covid-19 on public transport, was to continue to wear a mask.

Meanwhile, Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control and past chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, urged people to consider those more vulnerable than themselves in these settings.

“Anybody who refuses the minor imposition of wearing a mask in such places is placing vulnerable people at risk, effectively barring them from entering such spaces – and if you can’t travel on public transport, that is a massive imposition,” he said.