Northern Ireland news

Reusable cups cannot be used on Enterprise train services amid poisoning fears

Reusable 'keep cups' cannot be used on cross-border Enterprise trains

REUSABLE cups cannot be used with hot drinks bought on cross-border Enterprise trains due to fears of possible "sinister activity".

In emails released under the Freedom of Information Act, a senior manager at the catering company that provides services for the Enterprise told a customer reusable 'keep cups' were not used due to potential dangers including staff poisoning.

The manager also said that because the Enterprise operated across the border "it has the potential to be a target for such sinister activity". The service between Belfast and Dublin is jointly operated by Irish Rail and Translink.

The issue first came to light in December when customers on Irish Rail were told passengers could not use their own keep cups when buying hot drinks for health and safety reasons.

Customers were told that only an official Irish Rail reusable cup could be used.

A spokeswoman for Translink said yesterday only an Enterprise-branded reusable cup, which costs £2.50/€3, can be used to purchase drinks on the cross-border train because it is "compatible with" the drinks trolley.

News website TheJournal.ie reported that a customer emailed to ask why they could not use their keep cup to buy a drink on board a train to Belfast.

Only branded Enterprise reusable cups can be used with hot drinks bought on board cross-border train services. Picture by Press Association/thinkstockphotos

In response, a manager from Corporate Catering Services Ltd NI said reusable cups were not used to cut the risk of staff poisoning.

In an allusion to the Novichok poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March 2018, the manager wrote: "I’m sure you’ve seen things in the press recently where people have been exposed to life threatening illness through poisons etc., some of which can be introduced to the environment as simply as wiping them on a seat or a door handle".

The manager, whose name was redacted, said although they were not suggesting that customers who use keep cups were a potential risk "there’s no guarantee that the next anarchist isn’t going to do something terrible using an item they hand to one of my staff".

The catering manager said that because the Enterprise is a cross-border service, "it has the potential to be a target for such sinister activity", the website reported.

The Belfast-Dublin train line was bombed several times during the Troubles, including on Bloody Friday in 1972.

The catering manager wrote that the company did not use keep cups on board to avoid “cross contamination to a self-contained water system”.

A spokesman for Irish Rail said it advised the catering company last year that cross contamination "was not a legitimate reason, and we did not accept it – nor should it be used in any future correspondence to customers".

A spokeswoman for Translink said yesterday its own reusable cup had been "carefully designed to be compatible with on-board catering trolley equipment offering a quick and convenient service while avoiding the risk of spillage or scalding either staff or customers".

"Therefore, only this specific Enterprise Keep-Cup is accepted on board Enterprise and any other local rail services with on-board catering services," she said.

"Customers can buy their Enterprise Keep-Cup on board Enterprise services for just £2.50/€3.00 and this price also covers the cost of your first hot drink purchase.

"In addition, we have a loyalty reward scheme where customers who then re-use their Enterprise Keep-Cup will enjoy 10% discount on hot drinks from our on-board trolley service."

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