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Major Rail Company Uses Swabbing Service to Test for COVID

27 January 2021

A major rail company, thought to be Govia Thameslink Railway, is using a sterile swabbing service to test for traces of COVID-19 across their trains and stations.

The swabs also identify levels of bacteria, fungi, yeasts and moulds on high touchpoints.

The service, provided by SOCOTEC, involves sterile swabbing and the use of contact plates. It was conducted to determine the level of cleanliness and microbiological contamination on surfaces across the clients’ trains and a number of stations. 

The environmental swabbing service can also pick up any traces of SARS–CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.


Door Handles, Grab Rails, and Tables Tested


SOCOTEC swabbed high touchpoints on a number of trains during turnaround cleans, with tested surfaces including door handles, grab rails, tables, toilet flushes and driver’s cabs. Meanwhile, the microbial content of any surface deposits was assessed using species-specific agar contact plates, which were gently pressed against each surface for a total of 10 seconds.

The swabs were then analysed using Ribonucleic acid (RNA) testing, while the contact plates were examined and resultant colony growth counted after a period of incubation. Following analysis of the samples, no traces of COVID-19 had been detected upon any of the tested surfaces, each of which also presented low levels of bacteria, fungi, yeasts and moulds.

“We are delighted that SOCOTEC’s environmental swabbing service has received considerable uptake from clients since its initial launch in May 2020,” said Norman Sleeth, Managing Director, Environment & Safety, SOCOTEC UK. 

“This particular service saw teams at SOCOTEC’s Romford, Cirencester, Burton upon Trent and East Kilbride sites contribute to the testing programme, all of whom worked closely together to successfully meet the client’s requirements.

“We hope that SOCOTEC’s environmental swabbing service provides clients with the confidence and reassurance they need to maintain business operations and keep the country moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Picture: a photograph of a person at a train station wearing a facemask

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 27 January 2021


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