Tomatoes have been found growing in human waste dumped from trains on tracks in Essex, a rail union has said.
The tomato plant, spotted on the line at Rochford, is understood to have grown after undigested seeds were fertilised by sewage discharged from trains, rail union RMT has said.
The union said it has been calling on the government to ban train companies from the "filthy and disgusting" practice of dumping waste on to the tracks.
It described the practice as a serious health hazard for track and fleet staff.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "It shames Britain's railways that tons of human excrement is being dumped straight on the tracks while the private train companies make huge profits and the Government does nothing.
"Not only does this create filthy and dangerous working conditions for rail staff who are routinely sprayed with this waste but it also shows that the Government are prepared to tolerate this scandal while greedy rail operators make a killing.
"RMT will continue to fight for an end to this disgusting and dangerous practice and it’s the greedy, profiteering train companies who should foot the bill."
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators and Network Rail, told The Independent: "The rail industry takes this issue, and feedback from customers and staff, seriously and understands that this can be very unpleasant for track workers.
"Investment in new rolling stock since the mid-1990s means the majority of trains do not have to discharge waste onto tracks, and we continue to find ways to modify older vehicles.
"The minority which do not have toilet tanks fitted will reduce further as new trains are introduced."Reuse content