Case 332 – Passenger’s coffee purchase had to be placed on table by train attendant


Enquirer was on a train and ordered a coffee off the trolley service. They were seated in the window seat and had a passenger next to them. The attendant poured a coffee and put a lid on the insulated cup. The enquirer reached across to take the cup from him but the trolley assistant insisted that he could not do this. He explained that health and safety regulations stated he could not hand him the cup, and he had to physically place it on the table.

Panel decision

There is no specific health and safety regulation which specifies that hot drinks must be placed directly on to passengers’ tables. The measure is a policy decision introduced by the train operator to reduce the risk of scalding if people spill or drop a hot drink being handed to them at their seat, especially in the event of a sudden movement of the train. There has been a reduction in scalding incidents on trains recently, which, coupled with a rising trend in passenger numbers, tends to suggests that such policies are reasonable and can have a positive impact.

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