February 3 2020

A new decade, a new era of welfare.

It’s been 3 years in the making, but you don’t have to wait any longer. The first MEWU has arrived

What is a MEWU I hear you say? 

The mission with the MEWU is to set a new standard for trackside welfare so that all workers have access to fit for purpose welfare facilities at the point of work. Our 2020 vision is to make 20-minute walks to site welfare a thing of the past.


The journey so far

The Track Safety Alliance – set out a challenge in April 2018 to improve site welfare.

Whilst NR standard details that welfare should ideally be within 10 minutes of the worksite but within 20 minutes. Even with these parameters, most welfare breaks are taken behind trees as less than 20% of our teams felt that welfare was appropriate.

After 3 years of research, development and engagement with front-line teams, the TSA s and our supply chain partners Selectequip have produced the Mobile Expandable Wellbeing Unit (MEWU) – it’s so much more than just a mobile portaloo…. With flushing toilet, mirror, PPE hooks, sanitary provision all within a footprint of just over a meter square. It can even be moved on a trolley under OLE to be placed 3m from the track in a position of safety at the worksite.

First aid kit, stretcher, eyewash and AED can all be attached to the Mobile Expandable Wellbeing Unit (MEWU) – and for those working on track at night, finding an eight-foot-high orange box with its own reflective hi viz is so much easier to spot and the extra time saved looking for these may just make the difference between life and death.

For the first time a Your voice question was included on-site welfare and just 36% responded positively that welfare on-site was appropriate. This can help address this and avoid those embarrassing moments when you just need to go, but can’t wait or walk 20 minutes…

The MEWU is available for hire fully serviced via Network Rail’s internal ordering system “COOM” or purchased through “ISTORE” systems or direct from Selectequip.

Brian Paynter – Track Safety Alliance Chair said – “This now helps all our teams have the right facilities at the right place for those personal needs, the inclusion of sanitary provisions, show our commitment to diversity but gentleman will also benefit. Being made from over 90% recycled materials with environmentally friendly flush helps our sustainability drive. I can’t want to see these on our worksites.”

What the MEWU means to me - Jen Sowter HSQE & Compliance Manager at Selectequip:

"I’ve worked on the Rail Infrastructure for over 15 years and whilst welfare at Site Access points has improved, many Site Access points are over 20 minutes from a worksite.

Being a female, it wasn’t easy for me to go to the toilet. Going to the toilet meant finding a hedge or a field - somewhere the lads on site (or passing members of public) couldn’t see me.

As there were no welfare facilities in a walking distance, there were times that I couldn’t go to work at all. This was particularly true when I had my period, as periods don’t start at a certain time on a certain day. In fact, I would say that my hysterectomy was necessary for me to continue my working life.

Having a directly accessible MEWU on site will make worksites more appealing to all staff, both female and male.

The MEWU also incorporates full sanitary ware and disposal facilities and I believe that this will help to support female employees who already work on track and encourage more females to different roles on transient worksites."

One learning from our talking to front line teams is that wellbeing is really important but welfare needs to be there first. Being able to change a contact lens, go to the loo or take that personal needs break is nothing more than any of our teams should expect. This can now be a reality.

Want to know more? 

Book your ‘Meet the MEWU’ at your site, depot or office, simply email


Stay up to date

Keep up to date with our latest news and analysis by subscribing to our regular newsletter

To find out about how we process your data, please read our privacy policy.