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Northern and Transport for Greater Manchester deliver accessible toilets at rail stations

Northern and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have today (Tuesday 1st November) officially opened the first of a kind brand new accessible toilet at Guide Bridge station.

The new toilet pod represents the first of 83 fully accessible toilets set to be installed at rail stations across Greater Manchester in the next 3 years.

The estate of fully accessible toilet and baby changing facilities for all are thought to be world leading and are packed full of technology and features that will improve accessible refuge and ensure rail travel across Greater Manchester is for everyone.

The multi-million-pound investment will support the refurbishments of some existing toilets, the introduction of new facilities within station buildings or the installation of stand-alone toilet pods.

The toilets have been designed by Seed Architects and accessibility and disability (including hidden) groups have offered their expertise and guidance to ensure all needs are being met.

They are more than just toilets and will all have controlled access via either a radar key, a train ticket QR code or video access linked directly to Northern’s 24hr customer contact centre.

Intercoms will be fitted, that both link users to human beings in times of need, but also provide an automated audio description of the toilet and the room upon entry, detailing where certain facilities are and how to use them.

Additional safety and security features have been added including a unique ‘scream’ alert which detects when someone maybe shouting out in distress and immediately connects them to emergency support. The toilets have user activated multiple distress cords and low-level panic buttons.

The intelligent toilets recognise when someone enters and activates an emergency response if after a period of time no user activity is detected, a safety feature designed to assist anyone who may have collapsed or is unconscious.  

A total of 20 brand new toilets will be in operation within a year with a further 63 scheduled to be built and opened by 2025. 

Simon Elliott, TfGM’s head of rail programme, said: “The provision of these state-of-the-art toilet facilities at Guide Bridge marks a major investment, and a significant step forward, in making rail stations across Greater Manchester more accessible.

“A major focus of our vision of the Bee Network is making public transport fully accessible, and by providing these facilities we want to encourage more people to choose public transport as a way of getting around the region.

“However, with 55 out of 96 stations in Greater Manchester still not fully accessible, we recognise that much more work needs to be done to improve this offer, and we will continue working with operators and industry partners to make rail and other modes of public transport accessible to all.”

The pod based toilets are also being manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner and use cutting edge Glass Reinforced Fibre (GRF) technology which takes littered disposable bottles from the sea and transforms them into strong and robust building material.

Each of the toilet pods will remove more than 2,000 plastic bottles from the ocean and the toilet pods themselves are fully recyclable when they reach their operational end of life.

Where station building facilities aren’t available, specifically designed 1.5tonne ‘lift and shift’ modules, like at Guide Bridge, will be installed and these can be disconnected and moved to new locations as needed and as and when the railway estate changes.

A new accessible toilet is also operational within the station buildings on platform 1 at Bolton station and plans are being drawn up for the most appropriate solution across the rest of the Greater Manchester railway station estate. Some locations will require major groundworks to introduce water, heating and electricity.

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern said: “We are delighted to have worked with Transport for Greater Manchester and our other partners to introduce these modern and brand-new accessible toilets.

“Not only do they provide fantastic facilities for everyone on our network in Greater Manchester, but they are packed full of innovations, safety measures and technology that helps and protects rail passengers whatever their needs.

“The new toilets at Guide Bridge and Bolton are now operational and we look forward to introducing them across our Greater Manchester stations in the near future.”

Northern are now working with other train operators and other local authorities across the network in the north, to identify where these innovative accessible toilets can be installed.


New toilet pod interior


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New toilet pod exterior


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The team behind the new facilites from Northern, TfGM, Seed Architects and partners


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