30 MAY 2022


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Article from BTNews 30 MAY 2022

COMMENT: Fine railway - No loos *

The Elizabeth line, running east to west, opened last Tuesday (24 May) with the kind of euphoria usually reserved for a State occasion. 

Transport for London (TfL) says that 260,00 journeys were taken across the network, which runs between Reading and Abbey Wood, on the opening day.  Everyone wanted to try it, even schoolchildren taking the short journey from Abbey Wood to Woolwich and on TV a couple said that they came from the USA to be here for the event.  It is smart, clean and gives a far smoother ride than the Underground.

The fact that it is three years late and hopelessly over budget will soon be forgotten.  Ask Berliners whose new airport was even more delayed and cost three times its original estimate.  They really love it.  

But all is not perfect.  BTN articulates again that missing London City Airport is an absolute disgrace as stated (privately) by a very senior TfL executive at Woolwich on the opening day.  Continentals do not understand why the airport is not served by the new line!  

But what is even more disturbing is a lack of toilet facilities either on the trains or at the stations, gender neutral or not.  Is it fair to hold it back as a child, or the elderly, when travelling in from Reading?  Yes, it might be possible to get off and catch the next service. Even the splendid Abbey Wood station has no public loo although one assumes it is provided for staff.

Accessibility for people with limited mobility, or with luggage, was not considered when the Underground system was introduced.  Since the turn of the century a major investment has taken place with ease of use in mind, but retrofitting stations sometimes 100 years old is complicated and expensive.  But it is being done, with lifts and ramps for wheelchairs.  Availability is marked on the Tube maps. Well done City Hall in its enterprise.

BTN suggests that TfL takes another look at the toilet facilities on London’s public transport as shown on the latest map.  Travellers from Reading do have the choice of using Great Western Railway (GWR), which has loos, but the Elizabeth line, with full size trains, should have had them from the start, even if only in certain carriages (perhaps amidships – people will know where it is).

There is no reason why trains cannot be retrofitted with at least one toilet – mixed gender and disabled – on each train by taking out a few seats.  TfL cannot turn a blind eye to this one.  At least at the major rail stations the use of the loos are now free. And all credit to a major fast-food chain who offers the facility.  Toilets are a vital part of travel.  They should get priority.




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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Neil Bennett, London

No toilets, as many decisions throughout Britain’s railway system, is a Department for Transport edict to save money. It would now be hugely expensive to retrofit them.

Elliot Young, Holborn

Good point about Woolwich (and Canary Wharf). Huge stations but no public lavatory facilities.

Sandra Fine, Woolwich Arsenal

Good point about Woolwich (and Canary Wharf). Huge stations but no public lavatory facilities.

Anne Hope, Potter Bar Herts

is a very good point. Thameslink and Great Northern have loos and serve more London stations than the Elizabeth Line.