Train passenger banned from using his own mug

Too dangerous, claims steward

Peter Kohler with his own mug he has owned for two years. See Masons copy MNMUG: A Virgin Trains passenger was told he could not use his own mug to buy a coffee because it was not 'risk assessed'. Environmentalist Peter Kohler has carried his personal plastic mug for two years as his way of cutting back on waste from disposable mugs. But when he went to buy an Americano on Virgin's Edinburgh - London train a steward refused to fill his mug because it had not been approved by the company. Peter, 33, who runs a project called The Plastic Tide which carries out beach cleans around Britain, cancelled his order and went without the £1.95 drink.

A Virgin Trains passenger has been refused permission to order a coffee and drink it from his own mug - because it hadn't been risk-assessed.

Peter Kohler was travelling from Edinburgh to London on the Virgin Trains East Coast service earlier this week when he decided he fancied an Americano, and ordered one from a steward.

As a keen environmentalist - he runs a project called The Plastic Tide which cleans up beaches around Britain - he didn't want to use a disposable cup, especially as those used by Virgin can't be recycled.

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But when he asked the steward to put the coffee in his own cup, he was refused.

"In the thousands of times, including on other train services, I've asked to use my reusable coffee cup this is the first time I've been told 'no' because it has not been risk assessed," Mr Kohler tells the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"I've used it in stations, cafes, pubs, train services and it has not been an issue. They are normally happy for me to use my own coffee cup and some, like Imperial College London, offer me a discount for using my own cup."

A spokesperson for Virgin defended the ban - but said the company was reviewing its policies 'to ensure that people can use their own cups in a safe manner'.

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It seems highly unlikely that anybody would try and sue Virgin Trains if they spilled coffee on themselves from their own cup - and even more unlikely that they'd win in a court of law.

But health and safety has become an easy excuse to ban anything that might be inconvenient.

Late last year, for example, we reported on the case of a couple who had the doormat outside their flat seized by their local council - which then demanded £40 for its return.

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And the issue of hot drinks has come up many times before, for example when a bus passenger was told he couldn't bring a hot drink on board.

But there is actually no practical or legal reason at all to ban them, says the Health and Safety Executive, which comments: "Transport companies are free to determine their own policy on conditions of carriage of passengers but should not incorrectly quote health and safety as their excuse for an unpopular decision."

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