/ Travel & Leisure

Are free station toilets meeting their Waterloo?

Characters desperate for toilet

Should we really have to pay to pee in station toilets? Quite a few trains now don’t have loos on board, so can operators really justify charging us to relieve ourselves after a long, and possibly stressful, train journey?

I get the train into the recently-revamped St Pancras station every morning. Lucky me, because if I need to use the toilets I don’t need to spend a penny.

Not so for commuters arriving just over the road at King’s Cross. They have to pay 30p, and the loos were pretty pungent the last time I paid a visit.

I don’t know about you, but I think station toilets should be free to use. It’s not like you haven’t already paid enough for your rail fare. And what with the inevitable train delays, not to mention the sorry state of on-train bogs – coughing up to use the loos feels wrong.

There’s an added complication. Say it’s late, all the shops are shut and you’re out of cash. What do you do then? At some stations, such as King’s Cross, you could use a change machine to get enough 10p pieces to put through the turnstile slot, but it’s a bit of a liberty.

And let’s face it, what expense have the operators gone to – installing the barriers, cash machines and so on – just to get your small change?

Rail firms should treat their customers better, instead they are taking the (30) p. That’s not customer service, let alone a convenience.


I completely agree – it’s a real liberty. It doesn’t only apply to Railway Stations though: the same thing is happening on Bus/Coach Stations. Who is reaping the financial benefit anyway? Is it going toward keeping the stations clean? Or the local council? And regarding the Rail Stations, there had to be some liaison (or conspiracy!) between them and the rail operators, if trains are now being made without a loo! What are you meant to do if you ‘take short’ before the end of a long rail journey? Does the train wait for you while you ‘spend a penny’ at an intervening station? Also, how does this square with access to a loo for people who are disabled?
Surely, in the 21st Century, there must be some sort of law regarding toilet provision – and if there isn’t, there should be.
Shouldn’t all cafes have to provide a loo? I thought they did. So is it ok then for a station cafe to not provide one because there is one in the station – albeit one where you have to pay? And what about on board a train – do those trains without loos still provide food and drink…………?

Sophie Gilbert says:
18 October 2010

I have found that facilities you have to pay to use are invariably cleaner and never lack loo paper, soap and paper towels, wherever they are… Money well spent as far as I’m concerned.


Agree with Pat – It is not just Stations it is everywhere – They used to be called Public Conveniences – note the first word.and the meaning of the second – Here locally there used to be 6 within a mile – open 24 hours – clustered around the ‘town’ centre. There are now none – they’ve been closed – all but one – that is only open during business hours and costs 20p. The actual result is a vast increase in people urinating in the streets.particularly in alleyways – though not restricted to them..

I’d sooner have a ‘stinky’ convenience than no convenience at all.

I understand that one problem has been vandalism – at least that’s the excuse given by B & Q who closed theirs down – So I no longer go to B & Q/

For someone who is now rather incontinent due to age – It is a total nightmare on any form of train journey – So I don’t go by train very often now.


I personally don’t mind paying 30p (I thought it was 20p) for the very rare event of needing to go to the toilet at the station. In the past, I have found the facilities to be quite good (clean, enough soap etc..)

I guess it depends on how much (I mean often!) you need to go though!


They went up in price a couple of years ago. Outrageous!


I’m not sure I understand why public conveniences should be free. It’s a service like any other and you get what you pay for. If you have to pay to use a toilet then in my experience the facilities tend to better. Just think how much cleaner and better maintained public conveniences everywhere would be if people paid to use them rather than be a (free) magnet for drug users and other less savoury types.


Do you know – I thought I paid for these facilities through the rates – Which are very high – especially if you are a single person.

And of course they were free – Somehow I would imagine someone who does drugs can just as easily pay for the facility

I want more to be open – whether or not they are free.- I don’t like alleyways being used as urinals because there are no public conveniences.

Fat Sam, Glos says:
19 October 2010

We seem to live in a society that expects the state to provide everything because ‘that’s why we pays our taxes..’. Granted that our taxes pay for some things but I would rather the authorities prioritised our needs and having free public conveniences, in 2010, is not a priority for me and I doubt for the many that never use them. I expect public conveniences could continue to be subsidised but I don’t mind contributing if it meant this contribution resulted in cleaner and, let’s be honest, safer environments. I doubt a drug addict would want to spend any money at all on using a public convenience when its money spent on something non-essential and could be used on drugs.


In all honestly I thought that was what a welfare state was about

Hate to point out most of our local public toilets here were built in Victorian Times

so they were hardly a part of the “State provides everything” As for “cleaner” – urinating in the streets and alleyways do not make for a cleaner environment.

eric gill says:
18 May 2016

Toilet on train platforms are not public and shoild be included in the fares charged . As a cancer sufferer it costs me over £50 a year !


Well, if anyone wishes to use a dark, grimy, stench-filled public convenience then I am not going to get in their way.Each to their own, I guess we just have to accept some of us have different standards.


Somewhat missed the point again – If there are no conveniences you can’t use them – There are none here where there used to be six – So people urinate in the street or alleyways through sheer necessity. – That creates a stench.

Now I would love nice clean stench free conveniences – but there aren’t any

However I would prefer a grimy, stench-filled public convenience to urinating in the street.

Fat Sam, Glos says:
21 October 2010

Like all things being caught short is a risk people take. I wouldn’t drive anywhere far on a low tank of fuel if I knew there was nowhere to fill up. So I can’t recall the last time I faced a situation of being caught short and finding absolutely nowhere to go (including the street).

There are public conveniences around now but some people still urinate in the street so it hasn’t really solved that problem. Perhaps there’s a reason why some people urinate in the streets. Because it’s far more appealing than going into grimy, stench-filled public convenience?

Scott says:
23 October 2010

Well Sam, you are very lucky.

What about people of my age (64) who have an enlarged prostate and require to use the loo on a regular basis, or the pregnant women who need to use the facilities when the need takes.

The point is we pay a high price to travel on the trains, and they sometimes they have no toilets, and we are made to stand, even though we have paid for a seat.

So I do not think it is unreasonable to expect to be allowed the use of the toilets as part of my ticket price.


Completely and utterly agree with Scott!!

Sam – there are NONE repeat NONE here!!! – I’m “shouting” because the is no other way of emphasising on this forum.

I really expect to be able to use a loo as and when I need to – Just as I was able to only a relatively few years ago.


Hello Richard, you could use italics by using this without the spaces – word – hopefully you’ll be able to emphasise now.


Thanks Patrick 🙂

This is a test for italics

This is a test for bold

Peter Lawrence says:
25 October 2010

I think we must accept that a small charge for use of a toilet is a necessary deterrent to abuse and vandalism. However the increase from 20p to 30p seems more like the train companies getting greedy and annoys users by the inconvenience of the coins needed. I was surprised that Passenger Focus and London Travelwatch did not object to the increase more.


When pay toilets were introduced at London Liverpool Street station I was annoyed at first but changed my mind when I found them to be better maintained and with fewer undesirable aspects than previously. My local station has quite decent free toilets on the London-bound platform but that is in the country and there is a fair amount of supervision. Main line terminals attract hundreds of thousands of users and the toilets soon become disgusting if not well-controlled and maintained. I now tend to avoid using the on-tarin facilities as they are generally unsavoury and wait until I reach London where for just 30p I can use the toilet and have a wash without people banging on the door or finding there is no toilet tissue/soap/hand towel. Just one problem – Network Rail does not think the 30p charge should include hot water. A point to bear in mind in relation to retail premises is that the provision of customer toilets is usually a condition of the planning permission for a major store, especially where it has a cafe or sells food/drink; if they then close the toilets they might be in breach of their consent and the local authority can enforce implementation of the condition. It is very annoying that many retail “parks” with stores selling beds & furniture, electronics, appliances homewares, etc do not have toilets although some stores do have a minimal facility hidden away in the inner recesses of the shop.


I wonder how those prisoners on the train last night got on and if that had any toilet facilities. I am pretty sure that if I had been caught up in that fiasco without access to ‘the facility’ I would not have risked my health at nearly 65 waiting for relief. As an unwilling prisoner on the train it is just possible that the seat might have suddenly gained an alternative use and I doubt that I would have left a 20 or 30 pence use fee!
In short the arrogant losers running the modern railways need some real world introductions.

Jaz92 says:
3 April 2011

If the train toilets were clean and looked hygenic and this is what the charge was for then I would be fine with paying to use the facilities. But, they aren’t and never have been! Why should we have to pay to use a dirty toilet! And what about people with medical conditions that have to use the toilet regularly? Is it fair that they have to constantly pay to do something they NEED to do? 30p doesnt seem like much on it’s own but it begins to mount up!

vicky wilson says:
10 April 2011

i think is shocking have pay for pee 30p it cost me today just for wee can u imgaine if u had alot of kids that alot of 30p lol

wander says:
17 April 2011

The victorians introduced public toilets to clean up the streets. If everyone starts charging for what what ought to be a right the we will all suffer (foul smelling streets and more disease is what we will be in for). To those people who defend charges you might want to think about how you will feel when you are older and find yourself unable to get to or afford a toilet in time. I hope it doesn’t happen to you but its the world you are creating for yourself right now.

sasha says:
22 April 2012

There is absolutly no reason why train stations should charge to use there toilets. First the excuse that they have to charge in order to prevent the toilets from being vandilised is nonsense. In many large stations the toilets are situated INSIDE the station and you have to get through the ticket barrier to get anywhere near them. This alone should prevent may vandals and drug addicts from using them, if not then there are always transport police which may deter them or if catching them doing illicete activities bring them to prosicution. Any money raised from fine in this way could be used to repair and maintain the stations toilets.
The second excuse the use is that charging people to use the facilities helps to maintain the toilets, but many large stations also have well known high street chains doing buisiness there, surely the rent generated from these chains for retail space could be used to maintain the facilities at an appropriate standard. Also any money generated from advertising space in the station could be used to help keep the toilets free and clean.
Also the rail companies are subsadised by the goverment, surely some of this could be used to maintain the facilities and keep them free for the public.

Kazjc says:
29 April 2012

It really pees me off! Every where I have travelled – other countries – you do not ever have to find the local currency to have to pay for a wee in a station or an airport. Imagine being a visitor here for the first time and you have to pay to use a public convenience. What kind of a welcome is that? I think steps should be taken to campaign against it. It’s a tidy little profit for the operators that see thousands of people traffic through every day all paying 30 p – Just based on 1000 pees a day – equals £300 per day 7 days a week £2100 per week x 52 weeks at least £109K per year on a basic biological function- Taking the p**s!!. How much do you think it costs to pay the attendant – probably on minimum wage. Maybe £6K = loo roll? maintenance – maybe another 5 – who profits?? Private company ? the railway companies? How can it be right to profit on pee – We are taxed on everything – including pee and if you have no change or money you can’t go in – If you are pregnant and bursting , or elderly and can’t hold it -its stressfull and creates bad feeling – negative attutudes – its terrible PR for the UK. Plus its an infringement on personal rights. Those stupid turnstiles, the whole feel of it is typical Britain: Stop do not pass go until you PAY. When you return to this great country after travelling its like coming back to prison island. You are penalised for everything. Next time I pissing on the floor in protest. In fact I’d love to organise a group p**s on the floor outside the public loos on Victoria station in protest at having to pay!! Any takers – please get in touch !

Radical says:
28 July 2015

I think you’ve hit the nail right on their greedy avaricious heads. As I said before, use a local hotel or other means of getting relief. I appreciate it is more difficult for women but when there’s a way there’s a will. Let me know if you want any more info as I can show you places in Birmingham but not in London, but local pubs and restaurants may work.


99hamiltonl says:
18 August 2012

A few random words of wisdom:
Network Rail are the organisation which impose the charge to use the toilet at certain UK stations. All the stations where this applies are large hubs managed by Network Rail. They are a government funded body which mostly look after the track and rail infrastructure.

I tend to use the ones on trains about 10 minutes before I get off at any of these hub stations.

I believe these toilet charges are in place at Birmingham New Street too. Like many of the London termini this is also run by Network Rail.

If you are in King’s Cross station walk to St. Pancreas, it isn’t far and the toilets are free! St. Pancreas in my experience is also the most pleasant of all the London termini to be in. If there is an option I normally route through it if I can.

Network rail run stations normally have plain blue signs with white writing on them. They also give each station they run a different symbolic and round logo. It is normally seen of station signs which show the name of the station.

Gotmeownback says:
26 July 2013

I was waiting at Euston last night and had 1x20p and 2x5p which the machines would not accept, there was an African man there emptying the machines so I asked if I could swap my 5p’s for a 10p, he said he was not allowed to do that? Well I couldn’t wait 30 mins to use the one on the train so I found somewhere else to go outside.
A flawed, inconvenient, and greedy operation which is allowed to carry on at everyone’s expense.

Bookie says:
10 July 2014

Been there! Except for me I had no cash on me. People watched me searching through my bag for a 20p and no doubt watched as I then hobbled away again having not found relief. How can you get change to pay for the toilet if you have no cash on you in the first place?! As a woman it is impossible to find another place as you put it, so I was forced to continue my journey in a most uncomfortable state. Not happy.

Alan says:
18 July 2014

What is the ultimate purpose of these coments? If you get enough agreeing that the toilet facilities should be free at stations, do you have the resources to get something done about it?
I am more than willing to sign any petitions if it will help.

Junglemandon says:
14 July 2015

I cannot believe 50p at Victoria… We should not pay as airlines pay for facilities at airports and the rail operators pay to use Network rails system so hence comparison…. I have tendered a freedom of information request to find out what Southern pay for using Victoria…

I am happy to organise a concerted campaign on this as I am literally p****d off with not only a 70% rise but why we pay in first place….. I retired last week as fed up paying Southern for late and cancelled trains….. last journey was one cancelled and next 10 mins late….

Let me know your thoughts Don


In our town – touristy – the Public WCs are dire; the local authority who have made huge budget cuts have no money in the appropriate pot to upgrade them.
The option seems for the Town Council to take over the WCs and lease them out to a a local business group who will modernise them, run them and of course charge for their use.
It is what happens when budgets for public services get cut.

Radical says:
28 July 2015

The whole concept of having to pay in a toilet for a perfectly normal function is abhorrent. I refuse under any circumstances to pay their ridiculous charges often crossing the road outside to the nearest hotel and availing myself of their facilities on principle, why should some greedy profiteering business get my well earned money purely to say that their toilets are cleaned which I have on good authority that they are not, merely to make them look as if it is for a service rubbish total rubbish and if there is not a hotel in sight then I use my skill in going somewhere quiet and unobserved, this charge should be abolished and unless it is I will never endorse using fee paying toilets in stations never never ever !!!!!!!