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Network Rail to install drinking fountains in majority of its train stations this year

A woman drinks from a water fountain
Network Rail has pledged to install fountains in all of its managed stations. Photograph: Ascent/PKS Media Inc./Getty Images

Network Rail has pledged to install water fountains in the majority of its 17 managed UK stations by the end of the year.

The rail infrastructure giant is to trial a new fountain at London’s Charing Cross by the end of March, with a view to a rollout of free drinking water facilities for the millions of users of its managed stations by the end of the year “where it is practical and feasible to do so”.

The announcement is a reversal of the company’s previous position. In December, Network Rail told the Guardian that “Water fountains are not a facility we currently have in stations and there are currently no plans to do so.”

But on Monday a spokeswoman said: “We manage 17 stations directly and plan to have the majority of the water fountains installed by the end of 2018, with the others installed as soon as they can be.”

Network Rail manages some of the UK’s largest and busiest stations, including all of London’s main termini, Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central.

Among them is Waterloo, recently named Britain’s busiest rail station for the 14th year in a row, used by more than a quarter of a million people every day.

“By introducing free water fountains at our managed stations we can make a simple change that not only helps quench the thirst of station users, but also has a positive impact on our sustainability ambitions by reducing single-use plastics,” said David Biggs, managing director of Network Rail Property. “We’re looking forward to the introduction of these water fountains and the benefits they will bring the public and the environment.”

One of the UK’s largest retail landlords, Network Rail said it had been “encouraged” by the actions of some its station food and beverage retail tenants to reduce plastic waste.

The move comes just weeks after the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, unveiled plans to roll out a new network of water fountains and bottle-refill stations across the capital.

This article titled "Network Rail to install drinking fountains in majority of its train stations this year" was written by Rebecca Smithers, for The Guardian on Monday 12 February 2018 05.30pm

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