World Toilet Day - Train drivers need better facilities

2021-11-19 -
Array, ASLEF
A toilet in front of a grey tiled wall

World Toilet Day is on Friday 19 November and is an official United Nations international observance day designed to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Worldwide 3.6 billion people live without access to a safely managed sanitation service.

For train drivers here in the UK, there are also problems accessing suitable toilet and hygiene facilities across the rail network.

The problem affects drivers on lots of difference services, but it's a particular problem for rail freight drivers - who can sometimes find themselves away from depots, sat in sidings, or on worksites for many hours at a time with no access to facilities.

A lack of access to toilets and hand washing facilities also has a particular impact on disabled people, women and those with long-term health conditions.

A picture of a toilet against a grey wall with text on top which says: "If a freight driver was to stop out of course at a station to use the toilets, it would be questioned as to why you stopped and cost the company penalties. Even then, the station staff might not allow you to use the staff toilets" - freight train driver

ASLEF's annual conference in 2019 passed resolutions to call for action on this issue, including improving access to toilets for freight drivers and a four hour maximum continuous driving time for all drivers.

We have already convinced the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) to form a steering group to look at industry-wide solutions, and our negotiators continue to work with rail operating companies to make it easier for drivers to be able to access safe, clean and suitable facilities at work, and that drivers have a maximum of four hours continuous time in the cab.

ASLEF has produced a guide on some of the health effects of not having access to toilets, which can be downloaded here.

The lack of access to safe, clean, and appropriate toilet facilities is a human rights issue, an occupational health and safety issue, an equalities issue, and a public health issue. We are calling on the industry to provide safe and hygienic toilet facilities for all, as soon as possible.

A photograph of a row of toilet cubicles and sinks which has text over the top: "If we are delayed, they often bell us out before I've even pulled up to the platform. It infuriates me. I will still go to the loo even if it causes a delay. I've had jokes from station staff about the size of my bladder and it used to bother me but these days I just don't care" - female long-distance driver


A photograph of someone washing their hands in a sink with text over the top which says: "When you go onto a freight site you can be 10 miles from anywhere with only the nearest bush as a urinal so you can guess the chance of any other requirements" - male freight train driver
A photograph of a row of toilet cubicles and sinks which has text over the top: "Our terms and conditions say 4.5 hours max in charge of a train, which includes turnaround times. The only problem then is the distance to the facilities - at some of my stations it's more than a 10-minute walk from the platform to the toilets" - Female driver on commuter trains