Virgin Trains is launching a campaign to ask people to stop flushing strange things down their train toilets. It’s not a silly issue, as around four of their 484 train toilets are taken out of service each day as a result of “inappropriate use”.

Anyone busting to use the loo (or suffering travel sickness on a Pendolino) isn’t going to appreciate a toilet being out of action on a long train journey.

According to Virgin Trains, toilet blockages on its fleet currently equate to over 18,000 lost toilet hours per year, and a repair bill in excess of £182,000.

They’ve found a ladies bra flushed down the loo, glasses, wedding rings, babies nappies, and — presumably after a bad match — a Manchester United scarf.

By far the biggest culprit however is the ‘wet wipe’, accounting for over 90% of blockages. Even wipes labelled as ‘flushable’ can lead to problems, the woven material clogging the internal pipes leading to the onboard effluent tanks.

“It did make us smile when we found the bra as it’s not something you would expect to find,” explained Michael Jacks, Head of Fleet and Engineering at Virgin Trains. “

“But it does highlight a very serious issue, and one that greatly impacts on our customers. Bins are provided, and we would remind our customers to follow the 3Ps of flushing. Only pee, poo and paper should be flushed down any toilet.”

(V for vomit is presumably also allowed)

Talking toilets, along with tongue in cheek signage, have been used onboard Virgin Trains to promote responsible toilet use.


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  1. Andrew Gwilt says:

    That also happens on few other train operators on what they can also find what has been out in the toilets. Should passengers be fined if train operators were to issue fines if some passengers was to cause damage to the toilets on trains by throwing items that can clog up the toilet that can leak and putting trains out of service. Football fans & party goers are the worst ones.

  2. T Perry says:

    V for vomit?

    P for puke, surely? So that’s the 4P’s of flushing!!

  3. GT says:

    Even more amusing is the advert in some “Virgin” trains for balloon flights!
    Given some people’s opinions of Branson, I was forcibly reminded about an old, rude joke about virgins & balloons & “one little p***k” – oh dear – never mind,

  4. JP says:

    If only a solution could be found for the “cess” that still smiles back at the 0300hrs trackworkers, lit by the moon or by their head lamps.
    You’d have to be pretty determined to block a hole that is open for one to see the sleepers below. This is certainly the case on a number of trains in Italy and of course a stubborn few 125s here (sans view as I recall.)
    PROs and CONs for each system. Again, here and on day one of the next 364ΒΌ is not the milieu for musings on merde, methinks.

  5. Andy McDougall says:

    It would be interesting to know the comparative statistics for aircraft toilets.

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