If Northern are going to order more new trains, shouldn’t the opportunity be taken to improve the passenger experience? If you are sitting at the wrong end of one of the Northern’s new 3-car trains, it’s a walk through two coaches to reach the loo. That may be adequate for short commuter journeys but with the nature of rail travel changing with a greater proportion of leisure travel by families and elderly people, plenty of toilets should be a must. It’s even more difficult when – as we are now seeing again – trains are getting crowded. Toilet waste that used fall disgustingly onto the track is now retained for disposal later. This means train toilets are complex machines; having only one risks having none in case of failure. We thought Northern might go for an upgrade with the new battery-diesel trains they are looking at. We also thought consideration might be given to providing through gangway connections so that when 2-car or 3-car trains are coupled together both staff (for ticket checking and customer service) and passengers can get from one end to the other. We even thought (maybe this was a long shot) changing the seating layout might be considered giving more passengers the choice of watching the scenery, a time-honoured pleasure of rail travel.
Our understanding is that no such upgrades are intended.
A cost-saving but also, we might argue, a missed opportunity. Class 196 (West Midlands) have end-gangways, and 197s (Wales) also have 2 toilets in units of more than 2 carriages. The Northern, WMR and TfW trains are all built by CAF.
Header Image: “195120/002 at Hebden Bridge 28/07/20” flickr photo by Aaron 56125 https://flickr.com/photos/aaronsrailwayphots/50538657731 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license