Southern Railway to axe toilets from new train fleet
The new fleet of trains will be introduced in December
A train company has been branded a "disgrace" by union chiefs after it emerged some of its new fleet will have no toilets on board.
Southern Railway opted to forgo the facilities on its latest trains running on the Portsmouth to Brighton service.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' union (RMT) said it was "unacceptable" due to a journey length
The firm said trains would run in areas with short journeys where most people travel for less than half an hour.
A journey from Portsmouth to Brighton can take up to an hour and a half.
Independent rail passenger watchdog Passenger Focus said the decision was a blow for passengers who were elderly, had medical conditions and travelled with children.
Southern Railways said the trains, which are to be introduced in December, have been designed to create more space for passengers.
But RMT general secretary Bob Crow called the move "unacceptable" and said it runs the risk of turning carriages into "stinking cattle trucks" creating appalling conditions for passengers and staff.
"The route has always had toilets on board in the past," he said.
"This is the main connection between two major cities on the South coast.
"One and a half hours without any toilet facilities on board is unacceptable."
He said RMT was already set to ballot members of Southern Railway for industrial action after cuts to security led to an increase in assaults on staff.
A Southern Railway spokeswoman said the new trains would have a "refreshed interior" including new seats and flooring, a passenger information system and flexible spaces for wheelchairs and cycles.
She added other trains in its fleet also did not have toilets on board.
"Quite a few other operators do not have toilets," she added.
The Department for Transport said there were no rules on whether or not toilets should be available on trains.
"We expect rail companies to provide a good service," he added.
"However, it is not for the Government to micromanage the industry."
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: "This is definitely a blow for passengers, especially those travelling with children.
"However, these changes will help to reduce overcrowding which will be welcomed by passengers.
"Our research shows that passengers are unhappy with station toilets, so it is essential that Southern improves them quickly."
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