ScotRail ‘letting down elderly people’ after toilet fee U-turn

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The operator has scrapped plans to remove the fee for using facilities at four stations.

7th August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

A charity has accused ScotRail of letting down older people after the rail operator scrapped plans to make station toilets free.

The company had proposed to remove the fee for using facilities at Glasgow Queen Street, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William.

However, it announced this week that the plans had been thrown out after police warned the move could lead to a rise in antisocial behaviour.

This is despite 20 Network Rail-owned stations around the UK scrapping toilet fees earlier this year.

Age UK said ScotRail’s decision was “yet another barrier” to travel and urged the company to rethink.

Brian Sloan, the charity’s chief executive, said: “This is a significant let down to older people and those with medical conditions who are very likely to use these toilets when travelling.

“Despite receiving millions of pounds of taxpayer subsidy and ticket prices at sky-high rates, news that ScotRail is not prepared to match an identical commitment by Network Rail to make public toilets in Waverley and Glasgow Central free to use is thoroughly disappointing.”

Research for Age UK has found that many older people will not make journeys when they know they won’t have a convenient toilet stop on the route. A third of older people told the charity they would use public transport more often if access to toilets was easier.

Mr Sloan added: “Charging people and forcing them to look for the right change is yet another barrier to travel and has a substantial impact on the public health challenge of loneliness and isolation which already impacts on the lives of hundreds of thousands of older people in Scotland.

“ScotRail is using the excuse that free toilets in stations would lead to an increase in antisocial behaviour. The response to that must be to improve security, not put up barriers for the vast majority who simply want to use the toilet on their journey.

“ScotRail should review this decision and give something back.”