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Emergency toilet bags for Dutch rail passengers26th of October 2011
Commuter rail passengers in the Netherlands will now have access to emergency plastic bags if they are caught short while travelling.
Dutch National Railways is equipping its toilet-free trains with bags designed specifically for holding urine for those passengers who are unable to wait.
Company spokesman Edwin van Scherrenburg described the move as part of the firm's commitment to providing adequate first-aid facilities. "This is for emergency planning, not casual use," he said. "We are preparing for the winter: say for example when there is one metre of snow outside and evacuation is not possible."
A second spokesman Jeroen von Geusau points out that around 16 per cent of the country's passenger trains are without toilets. Since some journeys last up to four hours it is inevitable that some passengers will require a toilet, he claims, particularly in the case of power failure on the tracks. "After two hard winters in the Netherlands, you need to be prepared," he said.
The emergency plastic bags contain a powder that turns into a gel when liquid is added. Passengers requiring one can ask the driver for a bag and then use it in the driver's cab.
The bags are an answer to long-standing complaints about insufficient commuter toilets by Netherlands rail passengers and staff. Last year Dutch parliament agreed that all trains should have toilets - but the plans suffered a setback in April when the costs involved were estimated at a staggering $125 million-plus.
The Dutch Rail Passengers' Association (ROVER) claims to be guardedly pleased with the plastic bag solution, but continues to push for onboard toilets.