Dog walker 'sprayed with human waste dumped by passing train' in Northumberland

A man has revealed he was sprayed with human waste dumped by a train as he was walking his dogs near the railway line.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 28th October 2019, 4:45 pm
Cllr Scott Dickinson and resident Paul Sainthouse at a dog walking spot beside the train line, metres from a housing estate.

Paul Sainthouse, 58, from Widdrington Station, was sprayed with what he thought was water from a passing train.

After discovering all was not what it seemed, he did some research and his worst suspicions were confirmed.

Mr Stenhouse, of The Gables, is now calling for train operators to stop their practice of dumping human waste near residential areas.

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Paul Sainthouse in his garden which backs onto train line.

He said: “Dumping human waste next to people’s homes is a throwback to the Victorian times. I find it hard to comprehend this practice still goes on today and just metres from my home.

“I have been sprayed with it while walking my dogs and when the wind blows in a certain direction you can smell it from my garden.

“There are young families living on this estate and there is a children’s play park nearby. Surely there are other places they could be doing it?”

Mr Sainthouse, who lives with his wife, father-in-law and their three dogs, is retired and suffers from frequent stomach problems and recurrent chest infections which he believes is a result of exposure to the waste.

He has now enlisted the help of local county councillor Scott Dickinson, who has raised the issue with Northumberland County Council and assured local residents he will be doing everything he can to bring about an end to the situation.

Coun Dickinson, deputy leader of the Labour Group in Northumberland, said: “I was genuinely shocked to hear about this case.

“This is just another example of the North-South divide getting ever-wider under the Tories. While the south gets ready for high speed rail, we still have to put up with outdated trains dumping human waste near our homes.

“This comes down to investment. Boris and his cronies need to realise the north does not stop at Manchester. Widdrington is a beautiful part of Northumberland and its residents should not have to put up with this nauseating problem.”

While newer trains are fitted with appropriate collection facilities, old rolling stock is permitted to dump human waste on to the track.

A spokesman for LNER, said: “Waste storage tanks are fitted to all of our Azuma and existing electric train fleet. Our diesel trains, which form a small part of our fleet, do not have retention tanks fitted and will be removed from service in the coming months.”

A spokesman for Northern, which runs a limited service on the line, said: “Our existing fleet of 243 trains is undergoing a complete refurbishment and as part of this programme, we are updating a number of our older trains which currently do not have waste retention tanks.

“Whilst this is an industry-wide issue, we are working hard to improve the railway environment for customers and railway workers. Based on our upgrade programme, we expect 100% of our trains to be fitted with waste retention tanks by the middle of next year.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Rail companies take this issue very seriously and we understand that it can be very unpleasant for people who work or live nearby when it happens.

“We are working together to invest and improve trains by replacing half the fleet new for old by the early 2020s, by which point all of our 14,000 carriages will have toilets which do not deposit waste on tracks.”