A gin distillery turned hand sanitiser producer is helping essential railway staff to keep freight and passenger trains moving across the West Midlands and Chilterns area.

Network Rail’s signallers – who safely keep trains moving around the network – are using the sanitiser, made by Worcester-based Piston Gin, as part of their daily cleaning and social distancing routines.

Signallers work shifts, seven days a week, and share their workspaces with others every day, meaning it’s important to keep hands clean and equipment wiped regularly.

With sanitiser in higher demand than ever, Network Rail’s Central route, which covers the West Midlands area and the Chiltern main line, heard about the distillery’s new product and arranged to buy 300 bottles.

The sanitiser is being used at Central route’s main signalling centre in Birmingham, where signallers are working two metres apart, and in standalone signal boxes across the route.

Martin Colmey, head of operations for Network Rail’s Central route, said: “Reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus among out staff is vital to keeping the railway open and trains, with key workers and essential food and medical supplies, moving around the West Midlands and Chiltern main line.

“We have had to think outside the box during this unusual time and supporting a small business like this while keeping our staff safe made perfect sense.”

Grace Stringer, from Piston Gin, said: “We have the ability to help people during this crisis, so we have changed our production line from gin to hand sanitiser. We have also had fun learning a new skill! Knowing we are helping key workers stay safe is an added bonus and we are grateful to have been able to help and supply Network Rail.”

The railway in the West Midlands and Chilterns area is carrying thousands of tonnes of freight – including petrol, medical supplies, steel, food and white goods – every day to support the economy and keep Britain stocked with vital products and equipment.

For more information on Piston Gin visit www.pistongin.com.