On the train
Toilets for wheelchair users have been provided on longer-distance trains for many years. Those on older trains which came into service before the current regulations applied may be much less accessible, for instance due to the less generous layout of the cubicles.
Wheelchair-accessible toilets in newer or refurbished vehicles must comply with current regulations on their size and features, for instance:
- the height of pedestals, paper dispensers, washbasins and coat hooks, etc
- the layout of soap, water and drying facilities
- door-closing, locking and opening procedure
- a call-for-aid system must be provided
- sufficient turning space for a wheelchair
- adequate space for a carer.
Similar rules apply to the layout and features of accessible toilets at stations.
We recommend that accessible toilets should be unisex. If they are enclosed within gender-specific toilets, a member of the opposite sex cannot assist the disabled person, if necessary.
Many accessible toilets are locked, usually requiring a National Key System (NKS) or ‘RADAR’ key. You can buy these keys from town halls, social security offices, Age UK etc, as well as online from RADAR. They cost a few pounds each and will open most accessible toilets on the rail network and elsewhere. Station staff have a key. (Some station toilets cannot be opened by RADAR keys and staff assistance must be sought.) A fee may be charged for the use of accessible station toilets – especially if use of the standard toilets involves a fee.
The number of accessible toilets and the stations where they are being installed is increasing. Operators’ DPPPs and Stations Made Easy can give information on where these can be found.
The Department for Transport has recently begun funding ‘Changing Place‘ toilets, provided with hoists and other equipment to accommodate the needs of disabled people of any age. These have already been installed at Sutton (Southern Railway), at Weymouth (South West Trains) and London Paddington (Network Rail). More are planned, for instance at Preston (Virgin Trains) and Brighton (Southern Railway).