Monday, 24 February 2014

Virgin Pendolino, Coach D, disabled access toilet

On the 23rd of February, amongst the panel of an up-and-coming panel game in Manchester's spiritual home, AllFM, a plan was hatched. As we beknighted few moved through this world we would chronicle the lavatories we met and share our experiences with the world.

So, as young, new, hip, dynamic players in the highly competitive khazi review game, it seems appropriate that our first review is a decidedly mobile toilet, on board a Virgin Pebdolino train travelling from Manchester to London.

Pressing a button you hear instantly hear the hiss of compressed gas and whir of machinery, informing you in no uncertain terms that you are entering the smallest room of the future. The door obligingly slides aside to reveal...

An advert, for Mr. Branson's prestigious balloon trip business, conspicuously lacking in information about that form of Virgin transport, it's lavatorial facilities and journey time from Manchester to Liverpool. Overall it would appear that rail is a superior form of transportation. Perhaps the trains should tow the balloons.

The room itself is cramped, but not too cramped, being disabled accessible it would be possible to fit a wheelchair and it's occupant in here, but I fear making use of the facilities beyond this point would be tricky in this moving, shaking, tilting room. 

The mirror bears the simple message "Hey there, good looking!", to ensure me of my attractive visage in a complimentary, but sadly under-informed manner. 

It appears there's a feeling of humour, or at least humour-by-committee, about this place. Perhaps designed as a distraction from the fact your necessary activities are taking place while being buffeted around by the train.

It would also appear that classic computer gaming icon Pacman has fallen on hard times, reduced to consuming sundry lavatorial waste to get by.

Then we come to hand washing facilities, notorious for their unreliable functionality, there's a routine here. First, check the drier works, this seems backward, I know, but it is tricky moving about a train with wet hands. Then the water, this also feels wrong but it is one hundred times better than having hands covered in soap and attempting to grab on to seats as you search for the nearest working tap. Better to allow your hands to remain unwashed? I'll let you decide. 

Overall, I would give this a mediocre three stars. I personally quite like the talking point provided by the Virgin-branded decoration and rather wordy humour on the signs, and it is actually very well designed for it's rather difficult location but a long history of spotty hand-washing facilities let it down for me.

- Andrew Faraday (@marmitejunction)


  1. The Virgin brand has always kept a level of humour in what they do, so it's nice that they're spreading it out a bit more into the Virgin Trains branding.

    Recently, they've added a voice to the toilets informing you if you haven't locked the door (apparently, people forget this a lot) and the stuff not to flush down (again, people try to). Normally, this is just a non-specific voice, though for a short while they had the character of Ron Burgandy from Anchorman doing the voice (much to the disdain of certain people). Either way, the voice is a nice idea for the door locking thing since I'm told it's a bit of a problem sometimes.

    1. I actually liked the reminder voice idea, I've certainly heard some annoyed people who've had the button pushed on them, although on this occasion I didn't hear it.

      Mercifully, the Ron Burgundy message appears no longer to be current, and in any case probably warrants it's very own blog-based rant.