Crown actress fears ‘health hazard’ from Marylebone diesel trains

Olivia Williams joins residents’ backlash against railway operators over polluting locomotives

Friday, 26th November 2021 — By Tom Foot

olivia williams wiki comm Siebbi

Olivia Williams. Photo: Siebbi/Wikimedia Commons

STAR Olivia Williams says her drapes are blackened with smog coming from Marylebone station.

The actress, who is set to play Camilla Parker Bowles in the hit Netflix series The Crown, has joined a residents’ backlash against railway operators and the government over the use of polluting locomotives.

The St Marylebone Society is campaigning for hybrid replacements at the station that is the last in the capital to use diesel trains.

They should be banned from central London as diesel cars have been under environmental res­­trictions, campaigners say.

Speaking of the diesel smell from the station, Ms Williams said: “It is palpable, you can feel it in your throat, it stings your throat when you breathe, it makes things dirty. And I am not just complaining about my dry cleaning bill.”

“If my lungs look anything like my curtains it’s a serious health hazard,” she told BBC London.

In real life the Duchess of Cornwall attended the recent UN COP26 global climate conference in Glasgow.

The air quality around Marylebone station is “unacceptably poor” with high levels of sooty particulates and toxic NO2 fumes.

Westminster City Council leader Rachael Rob­athan has in recent weeks teamed up with other local authority bosses on Chiltern Railway’s London-to-Birmingham route to pressure the government into action.

They wrote to junior health minister Ed Argar demanding the immediate axing of the dirtiest Class 68 type of trains.

Mr Argar is a former Westminster councillor who was pipped to the post in a leadership race in 2012 by Philippa Roe.

Cllr Robathan said: “Promises of road maps to decarbonisation on rail with no clear timescale are little comfort to those local people who are being subjected to unacceptable levels of pollution. We have an opportunity to act now or the government will have missed a clear chance to protect public health.

“When pollution is exceeding World Health Organisation limits on a daily basis, you don’t need a diagram drawn to recognise the risk.

“There is a double standard that diesel cars are being legislated to a halt while diesel trains run with apparent impunity. If we are serious about carbon neutrality we can’t allow that to continue.”

Chiltern’s safety director Ian Hyde said: “Chiltern Railways is committed to working with the rail industry to decarbonise our train services and that’s why we have developed hybrid prototypes for our Class 165 and 168 diesel trains.

“These innovative projects allow our diesel trains to operate in and near our stations on battery power with zero emissions.”

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