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?