No toilets on VTEC service

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ryan125hst

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This must be a rare occurrence:

Virgin Trains East Coast said:
18:02 York to London Kings Cross due 20:25
Toilets are reduced.
Additional Facilities Information:
No Standard Class toilets available.

I'm guessing it's either because the tanks have run out of water or it's a 225 and the CET tanks are full.

VTEC seem to have had a few issues lately that I've not seen mentioned before. I've noticed the disabled toilets being out of use on a few occasions and a few short formations as well with one coach being missing or locked out of use. Is it because they are short of trains as a result of the refurbishment going on currently so they have less time to fix these issues, or are they just having some bad look lately?
 
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WillPS

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Probably a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

Certainly warmer days will result in people drinking more...
 

ryan125hst

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Probably a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

Certainly warmer days will result in people drinking more...

True, but then again you tend to loose more fluid through perspiration on hot days. Besides, while having toilets oou on trains with only one or two toilets is common, having six toilets out of use (assuming it's a 225 set) has got to be very uncommon. I've never certainly never heard of it. The closest I've heard is where apparently all toilets were out of action on a FGW HST several years ago as the weather was so cold the water fillers had frozen so they couldn't put fresh water in the tanks to flush the toilets and for the sinks. I think it had thawed out by mid journey though.
 

Tetchytyke

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Is it because they are short of trains as a result of the refurbishment going on currently so they have less time to fix these issues, or are they just having some bad look lately?

I don't think it is anything to do with luck, I think it is simply that VTEC are no longer spending the money required to keep the trains running properly. It is a Virgin thing to run down the stock before shiny new trains arrive; why spend money on something that's leaving in two years?

The last time we saw unreliability like this was when National Express were in charge and struggling financially.

The 1802 is usually a HST btw.
 

ainsworth74

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I don't think it is anything to do with luck, I think it is simply that VTEC are no longer spending the money required to keep the trains running properly. It is a Virgin thing to run down the stock before shiny new trains arrive; why spend money on something that's leaving in two years?

I'll happily beat up VTEC all day but they are spending £21m on a refurbishment so it's not as if they're spending nothing...
 

ryan125hst

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I don't think it is anything to do with luck, I think it is simply that VTEC are no longer spending the money required to keep the trains running properly. It is a Virgin thing to run down the stock before shiny new trains arrive; why spend money on something that's leaving in two years?

The last time we saw unreliability like this was when National Express were in charge and struggling financially.

The 1802 is usually a HST btw.

I'd be surprised if it was lack of maintenance that is causing this because, as ainsworth74 has said above, they are spending a lot of money on refurbishments. The interiors are being refurbished at present and all their trains have now been vinyl wrapped in the new livery. This has got to be the quickest the trains have been rebranded even if it is just vinyl wrap. After all this, why would they do maintenance on the cheap?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Bizarrely, I tweeted them asking what was up and they didn't seem to know as they replied asking me if it was all of them that were OOU. I wasn't actually on the train so couldn't confirm this, and once I mentioned this they didn't seem to reply again. Could it have been uploaded in error? Maybe only one toilet was broken but it was written as all of them by mistake?
 

FQTV

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I'll happily beat up VTEC all day but they are spending £21m on a refurbishment so it's not as if they're spending nothing...

I've had quite a few toilet and kitchen OOS issues lately, but I've also had quite a few set-swaps and more and more services with no reservations. This feels more like operational process changes than lack of maintenance - but I have no way of knowing. If they are set-swapping to reduce turnround times after delays then this may compromise tank-emptying etc., and I have recently had a service leave KGX with no catering crew whatsoever, meaning no trolley, no buffet and no First service. That also had toilets OOS. They will have potentially avoided quite a lot of Delay Repay though.

That £21m only seems to get new stickers as far as the loos are concerned, and I still don't really know whose money it is. It's under £500k per train, which is not really a lot in real terms, and the VTEC press release (as amended) carefully doesn't say that it's their money - just that it's being spent. As they're not assets on VTEC's books, it seems strange that CapEx on things like seats would not have any input from the ROSCO.

The exterior vinyls I can see being purely TOC-funded as they'd have to be 100% written-down by the end of the lease, but the seats etc would not have fully-depreciated and would still have value on the books.
 

antharro

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Not on VTEC, but I've had a 10x444 with no toilets on one occasion, and 4x458 without working toilets on many occasions before their rebuild!
 

theageofthetra

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From the perspective of the train crew can they refuse to take it out if they have inadequate or no toilet provision?
 

physics34

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Ran an 11 car (yes there was an 11 car diagram) once on an Morning rush hour East Grinstead to London Bridge service with all 5 toliets OOU (full tanks)...southern were close to taking the stock out of service but didnt want to cancel the train, which is understandable really.

Im sure the passengers agree.

I had taken the units out of streatham hill depot before hand and had reported it then.
 

tsr

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Ran an 11 car (yes there was an 11 car diagram) once on an Morning rush hour East Grinstead to London Bridge service with all 5 toliets OOU (full tanks)...southern were close to taking the stock out of service but didnt want to cancel the train, which is understandable really.

Im sure the passengers agree.

I had taken the units out of streatham hill depot before hand and had reported it then.

Not unheard of with anything involving 377/3s. It sounds like it wasn't relevant in your case, but part of the wider problem with those is that even if the tanks, water and suchlike are adequately maintained, the electronic toilet module controls are inferior and the doors have a complete mind of their own. To date they are the only toilet modules where the doors have jammed so completely that I've known passcom activations inside for that reason. There always appear to be plenty of flaws leading to a need to either be locked shut or go out of service on their own. That said, a lack of CET emptying is completely different and I guess the depot chaps at Streatham Hill may have been dealing with specialist cleaning jobs or something. I'm pretty sure the managers/supervisors at that depot wouldn't have wanted it to go out with its tanks full - I've found they're usually fairly diligent on that front.

I've regularly seen half or two thirds of the toilets out of order on a train, but I have to say Southern Fleet do a good enough job to usually leave at least one serviceable option when starting service. It's not brilliant but I guess everyone would rather it went out with one which gets a queue, than none at all and delays for toilet breaks, naturally. I've actually also noticed they're being a bit more proactive over the last few months with engineers riding trains to sort out or just diagnose defects whilst on the move. One even turned up at Edenbridge Town on a 171 (probably 806, it usually is) the other day! :shock:
 
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physics34

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Not unheard of with anything involving 377/3s. It sounds like it wasn't relevant in your case, but part of the wider problem with those is that even if the tanks, water and suchlike are adequately maintained, the electronic toilet module controls are inferior and the doors have a complete mind of their own. To date they are the only toilet modules where the doors have jammed so completely that I've known passcom activations inside for that reason. There always appear to be plenty of flaws leading to a need to either be locked shut or go out of service on their own. That said, a lack of CET emptying is completely different and I guess the depot chaps at Streatham Hill may have been dealing with specialist cleaning jobs or something. I'm pretty sure the managers/supervisors at that depot wouldn't have wanted it to go out with its tanks full - I've found they're usually fairly diligent on that front.

I've regularly seen half or two thirds of the toilets out of order on a train, but I have to say Southern Fleet do a good enough job to usually leave at least one serviceable option when starting service. It's not brilliant but I guess everyone would rather it went out with one which gets a queue, than none at all and delays for toilet breaks, naturally. I've actually also noticed they're being a bit more proactive over the last few months with engineers riding trains to sort out or just diagnose defects whilst on the move. One even turned up at Edenbridge Town on a 171 (probably 806, it usually is) the other day! :shock:

I am aware of a southern driver who got locked in a 377 loo for a hour in a depot and was only found after a curious cleaner noticed the pass com BIL light flashing. Potentially the driver couldve been stuck in there over the weekend. You possibily worry for your life in there if the unit shuts down and there is no air.

IMO the doors could be mechanical rather than electrical, if the sliders were very "slideable"..even for disabled people. Many out of service toliets are closed cos of the door mech.

The 377/3s and early /1s do have a noticable locking sound once the door is closed. I dont think this is needed if a manual lock is provided, or the door doesnt actually "lock" physically when the door closes.
 
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FordFocus

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There have been some retrofits to toilets in recent times with an emergency release handle been made available inside. Not sure this applies to Electrostars but does for refurbished fleets for other TOCs.
 

47271

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I haven't had VTEC toilets OOS but I was in an unrefurbed mk4 the other day that had a toilet pong enough to make a Voyager blush, a new one on me. People were moving around the train to avoid it.
 

ryan125hst

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Just gone onto Virgin Trains East Coast's website to see how things are running today. There's no mention of delayed or cancelled trains, but three mentions of short formations, two mentions of disabled toilets being unavailable (and a third which says the disabled toilet is now available, so clearly it wasn't) and two catering issues, this time due to a lack of train crew however.

No I don't check every day and even when I do check, it's not as if I'm checking it every half an hour, but I don't recall seeing these issues so frequently in the past, even in the first year of VTEC operations. Why so many short formations and what is happening with the disabled toilets? Virgin Trains West Coast always seem to have disabled toilets out of use according to their journey check. Looks like it's part of the Virgin Trains experience :lol:

Virgin Trains East Coast said:
10:00 London Kings Cross to Aberdeen due 17:04
Additional Facilities Information:
Due to coach D being formed of a coach with less seats than normal, reservations will be slightly different.
Reservations for coach D can be found in coach G.
Reservations for coach G can be found in coach D.

13:00 Edinburgh to London Kings Cross due 17:42
Disabled toilets are reduced.
Additional Facilities Information:
Unfortunately, due to a fault with one of the toilets on this train, there is no first class disabled toilet on this service.
Customers who require this facility, please speak to station staff before boarding.

15:30 Edinburgh to London Kings Cross due 19:50
Disabled toilets are reduced.
Additional Facilities Information:
There is no standard class disabled toilet. If you require this facility, please speak to station staff before boarding.

16:15 Leeds to London Kings Cross due 18:31
Will be formed of 8 coaches instead of 9.
Additional Facilities Information:
Minus Coach C. Reservations for Coach C are located in Coach D.
Additional Information:
We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you today.

17:00 Edinburgh to London Kings Cross due 21:42
Disabled toilets are available as normal.
Additional Information:
We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you today.

17:33 London Kings Cross to Harrogate due 20:23
Will be formed of 8 coaches instead of 9. Disabled toilets are reduced.
Additional Facilities Information:
Minus Coach F.
There is no standard class disabled toilet. If you require this facility, please speak to station staff before boarding.
Additional Information:
We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you today.

Catering updates (2)
17:19 London Kings Cross to Hull due 20:05
Catering is reduced throughout as we re a few crew members short today, we re unable to offer hot food in First Class. There will be some delicious cold alternatives instead..
Additional Information:
We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause to your journey today.

18:03 London Kings Cross to Skipton due 21:13
Catering is reduced throughout as we re a few crew members short today, we re unable to offer our full menu in First Class. .
Additional Information:
We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause to your journey today.
 

47271

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Sorry to revive a thread on a subject as mundane as WCs, but I was on a (nicely refurbished) VTEC HST earlier today, and they still seem to be struggling with this.

The flush in the one I used dispensed only a tiny dribble of water incapable of shifting even a square of loo roll, so probably was only a short time away from having to be locked out. Soon after I overheard a crew member inform another that three toilets were out of service on the train.

I could see it if there was heavy use or vandalism but this was a service one third loaded with perfectly respectable passengers with no obvious need to overburden the facilities.

It's a very odd phenomenon, I haven't experienced quite this level of difficulty with this particular absolutely basic issue on any long distance TOC before.
 

Clip

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where did you get on it and where was it coming from?
 

theageofthetra

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I still can't see how a train on a long distance operator such as this can be put in service with no working toilets. Surely as 'a place of work' the staff have some aspect of employment law or local union agreement that says that they require toilet facilities?
 

ryan125hst

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Sorry to revive a thread on a subject as mundane as WCs, but I was on a (nicely refurbished) VTEC HST earlier today, and they still seem to be struggling with this.

The flush in the one I used dispensed only a tiny dribble of water incapable of shifting even a square of loo roll, so probably was only a short time away from having to be locked out. Soon after I overheard a crew member inform another that three toilets were out of service on the train.

I could see it if there was heavy use or vandalism but this was a service one third loaded with perfectly respectable passengers with no obvious need to overburden the facilities.

It's a very odd phenomenon, I haven't experienced quite this level of difficulty with this particular absolutely basic issue on any long distance TOC before.

That's a poor show from Virgin Trains, particularly when HST's are used on journeys of up to 8 hours in length. What time of day was this and where had the train come from/was going to?

theageofthetra said:
I still can't see how a train on a long distance operator such as this can be put in service with no working toilets. Surely as 'a place of work' the staff have some aspect of employment law or local union agreement that says that they require toilet facilities?

I agree. While it'd be inconvenient, you can just about cope with it on a local stopping train, but it shouldn't be accepted on long distance services.

Looking on their journey check again now, I can see one train without Coach E and another whose first class disabled toilet is out of order. It seems to be the case most days (I only check once or twice a day so it's not as if I'm monitoring it all day every day, but it does give an idea of the issues).

Did East Coast suffer the same issues of broken toilets and short formations as Virgin are suffering and just didn't put them on journey check?
 

OneOffDave

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A couple of times with VTWC the disabled toilet has been u/s and they've taken the wheelchair space next to it out of action meaning I've had to travel on a later service. That seems to be the standard policy if that happens. Annoying as it then reduces the std class capacity of a Pendolino to one wheelchair user.
 

TheBerry

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That's a poor show from Virgin Trains, particularly when HST's are used on journeys of up to 8 hours in length. What time of day was this and where had the train come from/was going to?



I agree. While it'd be inconvenient, you can just about cope with it on a local stopping train, but it shouldn't be accepted on long distance services.

Looking on their journey check again now, I can see one train without Coach E and another whose first class disabled toilet is out of order. It seems to be the case most days (I only check once or twice a day so it's not as if I'm monitoring it all day every day, but it does give an idea of the issues).

Did East Coast suffer the same issues of broken toilets and short formations as Virgin are suffering and just didn't put them on journey check?

The issues were just not widely made available like they are now. Virgin want to send out as much information in advance about anything that will impact a customers journey. Social Media & the web has really taken off more than it has in previous years so really all this did happen before we just didn't know about it. Most times a wheelchair user is booked into a space and if the toilet isn't available they're made aware and given options as to what they want to do.

A lot of what's mentioned is the same vehicle with the same defect just moving around the country which can't be immediately repaired. Vehicles are being removed to repair the toilets, in the case of Coach E mentioned above it was removed, repaired and due back into the set the next day but because of disruption that didn't happen.

There is a HST running around with a 1st Class carriage in Standard, this happened under East Coast/NXEC & GNER it just wasn't publicised as much back then.

When it comes to staff needing the toilet it's a bit of a grey area. The crew shouldn't really have to use the toilets on board as there is a risk of cross contamination which is why there is staff accommodation with a toilet at each end of a crews diagram. It's a grey area and obviously not everybody can hold it in as some crews will be on a train for 5-6 hours.
 
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ryan125hst

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The issues were just not widely made available like they are now. Virgin want to send out as much information in advance about anything that will impact a customers journey. Social Media & the web has really taken off more than it has in previous years so really all this did happen before we just didn't know about it. Most times a wheelchair user is booked into a space and if the toilet isn't available they're made aware and given options as to what they want to do.

A lot of what's mentioned is the same vehicle with the same defect just moving around the country which can't be immediately repaired. Vehicles are being removed to repair the toilets, in the case of Coach E mentioned above it was removed, repaired and due back into the set the next day but because of disruption that didn't happen.

There is a HST running around with a 1st Class carriage in Standard, this happened under East Coast/NXEC & GNER it just wasn't publicised as much back then.

When it comes to staff needing the toilet it's a bit of a grey area. The crew shouldn't really have to use the toilets on board as there is a risk of cross contamination which is why there is staff accommodation with a toilet at each end of a crews diagram. It's a grey area and obviously not everybody can hold it in as some crews will be on a train for 5-6 hours.

That's a good thing then if they are publishing these issues more. The only downside of course is how it makes it appear that things have got worse.

Out of interest, do you know what is wrong with the accessible toilets?
 

yorksrob

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The issues were just not widely made available like they are now. Virgin want to send out as much information in advance about anything that will impact a customers journey. Social Media & the web has really taken off more than it has in previous years so really all this did happen before we just didn't know about it. Most times a wheelchair user is booked into a space and if the toilet isn't available they're made aware and given options as to what they want to do.

A lot of what's mentioned is the same vehicle with the same defect just moving around the country which can't be immediately repaired. Vehicles are being removed to repair the toilets, in the case of Coach E mentioned above it was removed, repaired and due back into the set the next day but because of disruption that didn't happen.

There is a HST running around with a 1st Class carriage in Standard, this happened under East Coast/NXEC & GNER it just wasn't publicised as much back then.

When it comes to staff needing the toilet it's a bit of a grey area. The crew shouldn't really have to use the toilets on board as there is a risk of cross contamination which is why there is staff accommodation with a toilet at each end of a crews diagram. It's a grey area and obviously not everybody can hold it in as some crews will be on a train for 5-6 hours.


Do the staff not have their own loo on IC trains ?
 

47271

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That's a poor show from Virgin Trains, particularly when HST's are used on journeys of up to 8 hours in length. What time of day was this and where had the train come from/was going

It was the up Chieftain at Edinburgh, I was en route to York, so yes, in the midst of a very long journey.

TheBerry - I know what you mean about this sort of thing getting publicised more, but direct experience says that this is more than just a social media/Journey Check thing. I've covered a huge distance on the East Coast over the past ten years or so and there's been a marked deterioration in the WCs since Virgin took over. I initially put this down to the clapped out sets they inherited, but for a newly refurbed HST to be struggling does seem odd. I also had a nasty experience in an unrefurbed mk4 the other day - and a long way from the WC itself - with a toilet pong enough to make a Voyager blush, never in my life have I experienced that before. The lav itself was a disgrace through lack of maintenance rather than cleaning.

Do they just need to take on a couple of extra plumbers for goodness sake, it does feel like corners are being cut here, how difficult is to make a toilet flush properly? Do they do anything with the WCs when they refurb? If they don't then they need to.

It's a shame because I don't have a major gripe with VTEC generally, and train toilets don't register with me one way or the other normally.
 

yorksrob

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There's no reason why old stock should be any more likely to struggle with toilet availability.

In the case of HST's, they have roughly double the toilets per passenger and they only have to worry about filling the cistern tanks up with water, so it suggests that such issues are more likely to be a diagramming problem.
 

PHILIPE

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Has anybody actually complained to VTEC about the issue rather than a Tweet re an individual train and received a reply ?
 

SPADTrap

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I thought the toilets on a mk4 set just empty on the tracks when full?
 
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