In the latest insurance for commuters, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said a long-lasting antiviral disinfectant appeared to keep surfaces away from Covid for three weeks.
GTR said random tests on its Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern carts showed the virus cleaner to remain effective in keeping surfaces free of microorganisms for up to 23 days – the maximum period between applications.
The tests were carried out by independent organizations, GTech Strategies taking swabs which were then analyzed by the Eurofins Scientific laboratory.
Swabs were then taken from the driver’s grab bars, tables, toilet handles, door knobs and electric brake controllers, which are in constant use.
Microbiological laboratory tests showed that there was no presence of Covid-19 on any of the surfaces tested.
Steve White, COO of GTR, said: “We run a comprehensive test program of our trains to make sure our customers can travel with confidence.
“Passengers can be reassured that with the long-lasting virus we use, over 100 additional cleaners and hospital grade cleaning products are working. Please follow government advice and wear a face mask. “
The company introduced the testing soon after the start of the pandemic and has 100 more cleaners, who work in stations, trains and staff areas.
The 2,700 cars at the Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern franchises are also disinfected overnight with short-term antiviral sprays, with an emphasis on the points of contact. GTR also operates the Gatwick Express but it did not operate due to the drop in air travel during the pandemic.
Scientists also looked for the pathogens Staphylococcus Aureus (which can cause pneumonia, food poisoning, and skin infections) and E Coli (which can cause food poisoning).
Both are very common, worn on people’s hands, and persistent on hard surfaces. They found negligible levels, completely safe, even on the toilet door handles.
The adenosine triphosphate (ATP) test cannot specifically check for Covid, but measures levels of surface contamination with microorganisms – a proxy for the virus. When levels are low, it is highly unlikely that Covid will be present.
Additionally, high pressure dry steam is used for improved cleaning and a process known as ‘bleach mist’ is used to decontaminate a railcar when it is confirmed that a passenger has had Covid. .
However, while transport chiefs say the network is “cleaner and safer than ever,” they privately admit that the risk of catching the virus from other passengers cannot be ruled out.
Epidemiologists now believe that “surface contact is not the main problem” for the transmission of Covid and that air transmission of the virus between passengers is more of a risk – hence the importance of wearing a mask.
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