/ Health, Travel & Leisure

Why do we care about toilets being flushed from trains?

Empty toilet roll

There’s been uproar over the removal of toilets on Southern Railway trains, potentially making the trips desperate ones. But should missing toilets really be on the top of the railway agenda?

I’m a train fan (well, within reason), but I’m not a train company fan. However, for once I’m feeling at least a bit sympathetic towards one.

Southern Railway is introducing extra trains between Brighton and Portsmouth that won’t carry toilet facilities. The worst case scenario is that you’ll be making the entire end-to-end 90 minute journey, so it’s an hour and a half without toilet access.

I appreciate that this isn’t the best for kids and the elderly, and so describing the move as a ‘blow for passengers’ may seem justified. But saying it runs the risk of turning carriages into ‘stinking cattle trucks’, as RMT chief Bob Crow apparently has, is a bit much.

Especially since two-thirds of the route’s trains will still have toilets and 90% of its passengers make journeys of 30 minutes or less, according to Southern Railway’s own statistics.

Plus, not only are there other rail networks without toilets, many journeys of a similar length don’t have them. Navigating London on the Tube, by bus, or indeed by car, also means no toilet access for journeys often longer than 90 minutes.

Admittedly, these modes of transport don’t come with a financial penalty if you get off to go to the toilet. But just how much of an issue is this?


Bob’s Crow’s ‘interesting’ comment. Surely it’s the trains WITH toilets that become ‘stinking cattle trucks’? Or has he not actually been on a train recently? Could be an improvement.

Having said that, sometimes 90 minutes is just too long, no matter what age you are!

Sophie Gilbert says:
23 September 2010

Isn’t this again all about money and profit and cost cutting? Presumably carriages without toilets are cheaper to manufacture and then buy, and if you don’t have toilets to clean you don’t have cleaners to pay (even if the very existence of these cleaners is sometimes highly dubious, I know). Is Southern Railway going to pass on the saving to its customers and reduce the cost of train tickets? Probably not in a million years. Whatever happened to “the customer is king”, I often wonder.

Surely it is a basic human right to be able to acces a toilet? I have commuted on First Great Western for over a decade now and would not trust them to guarantee getting me from A to B without a delay; 90 minutes easily becomes 180 minutes by which time crossing legs simply does not work!

And of course any savings will not be passed onto passengers, they never are…

Knit1Pearl says:
23 September 2010

I disagree. Let a supposedly small issue slip (oh, it’s only an hour and a half’) and suddenly you’ll find it’s become the norm, and there are four seats where the loo used to be. Besides it’s not just a toilet – it’s a basin if you’re sick, to wash your hands after changing a baby etc etc. And don’t come running to me when you sit down and find that the seat’s soggy…

I am completely angered by Southern Rails move. This is not just a poor move for the elderly and young, you can add disability discrimination to the list too! Those with a disability such as a serious bowl or bladder or kidney ailment causing incontinence often have to plan their lives around accessibility to toilets now be faced with the hurdle of decreased access to a public service? This flies in the face of the DDA. Many stations on the route are so basic that there is no shelter let alone toilet facilities, so there may be a longer wait to break a journey to get to facilities! Worse, Brighton has a large population of people with no access to cars and buses don’t always present an alternative! If you have access to a car, you can control access to a loo, or at least if the worst should happen, a chance of salvaging some dignity through privacy.
The trend is worrying too for other aspects as many more of us have to travel further for medical appointments etc, as services move about. Indeed memories of demonstrations and petitions against service movements between two towns on this route are still fresh – how does this work if public transport is less accessible?
Perhaps what incised me most where the cavalier comments Southern made in the press, as these showed no consideration for the more vulnerable in our society!

I’m appalled at the prospect – I cannot usually be continent for 90 minutes – so I’d far far far sooner have a a “stinky mess” to relieve myself than none at all – My only recourse would be to go by car instead and stop on the hard shoulder if needed.

This is so similar to public toilets – Where I live there used to be six permanently open toilets within i mile – Now there is just one open – but only from 9:30 to 5:00 at 20p – So the result? The streets and alleys are used as urinals. So now the whole district is “a stinky mess” – what progress!!!!

Public toilets used to be called public conveniences – obviously no convenience from Southern Rail.

V Pearl says:
25 September 2010

I think it disgraceful not to put toilets on trains even if the maximum journey time is 90mins.This in effect means that one cannot give small children or the elderly a drink on the journey plus what about the vast numbers of people who take diuretics to control blood pressure which are taken first thing in the morning and continue working throughout the day to increase urination.
This is really discrimination against,the young,the elderly and those on medication.

Andrew says:
11 October 2010

I oppose Southern Railways’ move. I commute 90 mins each way for work on a Southeastern train. Often I used the loo on the train because I’m too rushed before I set off and don’t arrive at the station with time to use the ones there. That’s assuming that I have the 20p available and, going the other way, there isn’t one anyway.

I agree with comments about toilet cleaning, or lack of – complain of you don’t like what you find, it’s usually easy on train company websites – and move to a different part of the train.

This SR move needs to be stopped before it becomes catching…

A disgrace! Just wait till the day when the Managing director has to pee because his train is delayed. Then things will change. And with every respect for her Majesty I bet they wont offer the Queen a trip on one of those trains!!!

Nick says:
18 August 2012

It’s well-known that Her Majesty does not use the lavatory.

miranda says:
7 June 2012

I went on south west train servivce with tables, they had toilets but they were tiny.

Geoff says:
30 November 2012

mice , rats,grey squirrels,lugs &snails are vermin and must be controlled ,if not by you then by some other person trying to be a “goody two shoes” and releasing them is not only passing on but increasing the problem. I continually have old fashioned mousetraps set in my shed and outhouses with peanuts and during Spring and Autumn catch and kill several mice . this firstly stops them breeding out of control and spreading and secondly feeds the owls and foxes as I leave them on the lawn in the evening and they’re gone next day.
If you eat meat , then it’s just hypocritical to leave all killing to someone else and try to give yourself a clear conscience.