Train lavatories learn to talk

4th of December 2013
Train lavatories learn to talk

Talking toilets have been introduced on some UK trains in order to help tackle the problem of blocked loos.

Once the user has locked the lavatory door on certain Virgin Trains, a pre-recorded message entreats: "Please don't flush nappies, sanitary towels, paper towels, gum, old phones, unpaid bills, junk mail, your ex's sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish down this toilet."

Virgin has taken the step of introducing talking toilets because according to passenger forums, blocked lavatories are a major source of annoyance for the travelling public.

Lavatories have already been adapted on Virgin's fleet of 20 Voyager trains and work is under way on making the toilets on board the company's 56 tilting Pendolino trains talk as well.

According to a Virgin spokesman: "When lavatories get blocked it means trains have to be taken out of service. It is also a huge inconvenience to passengers, especially on a long trip.

"We wanted to do something that would grab people's attention - and a talking toilet does get the message across. They are being well received, but time will tell. We're trying to face a serious issue in a chummy, informal way."

The initiative has been welcomed by Antony Smith, chief executive of consumer watchdog Passenger Focus.

"It can be frustrating to find that toilets are out of order or blocked, so hopefully the announcements will help this happen less," he said. "Anything that gets useful information across to passengers in a fun way is to be welcomed."


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