Making sure that the facilities on all of our trains are working and available is important to us. At our depots across the network, our teams work day and night to keep them in good repair.
Sometimes, however, faults can occur while a train is in service that can’t be repaired as quickly as we would like.
What are the common faults that occur to our train toilets?
While there are many things that can affect whether our train toilets are working. Some of the most common issues are:
Lack of water
Space on trains is limited, and while our toilets use water efficiently, occasionally it isn’t possible to refill them before the water for hand washing runs out. This often impacts our long-distance services where travel time between stations is longer and we’re not able to refill the water tanks.
Full toilet tanks
All of our trains use a system known as Chemical Emissions Tanking (CET) to store waste from the toilets. This makes it safer for everyone around the train as well as colleagues that work on the track – and means that unlike older trains, our toilets can be used while the train is at the station.
When these tanks fill up, the toilet will automatically stop functioning until the tank storing the waste is emptied. This requires specialist equipment at our depots to empty the tanks to make sure we remove the waste safely.
Our accessible toilets have motorised doors to allow easy entry. On most of our trains the doors are curved, and if they break (usually caused by an obstruction in the door’s path) they require specialist parts, which can mean they take longer to repair.
How long does it take to fix various problems?
Some faults, such as a lack of water, can be fixed relatively quickly. At some terminating stations we have water bowser facilities which are able to fill up the water tanks when the train is in the station. Water tanks can also be filled up at the depot and we aim to get our trains back to a depot with water tanking facilities at least every two days.
Other faults, such as door faults or emptying the toilet tank can take longer to fix. The door to the accessible toilet on most of our trains is curved which requires special parts when it needs to be fixed.
Toilet tanks can also only be emptied at depots with tanking facilities and any planned emptying works can be disrupted if there has been disruption to the train service during the day meaning that trains are out of place on our network.
What have we done to improve our toilet reliability?
We’ve worked hard to improve the reliability of on-board facilities, and since September 2018 we have:
- introduced a system to flush toilet tanks with specialist chemicals that maximise the amount of waste they can hold in between visits to a depot to be emptied
- overhauled the toilets on our Class 458 fleet, replacing old parts and improving the reliability of the 72 toilets on these trains
- undertaken a large-scale repair and replacement program for toilet pumps across our whole fleet
- employed a dedicated team of colleagues who specialise in maintaining and repairing our train toilets
- given additional training to our team of colleagues who look after emptying the train toilets
- improved on board colleagues’ awareness of common faults and introduced fault-finding processes to resolve some simple faults on board, getting the toilets back into service sooner.