Cabbies loo-sing out on rail deal

The toilets at Wigan North Western Railway Station which are closed for refurbishment
The toilets at Wigan North Western Railway Station which are closed for refurbishment

WIGAN’S taxi drivers are being seriously inconvenienced - by a lack of conveniences.

The public toilets at Wigan’s North Western Station have been closed for the last three weeks - much to the frustration of cabbies and passengers.

Members of the Hackney rank based at the station pay £293 per year to Virgin to stand outside the station - and the privilege is supposed to include access to a working toilet.

The drivers say an increasing number of rail passengers are also getting into their taxis after getting off the train complaining about the closure of the toilets.

Virgin today apologised for the delay on reopening the refurbished and up-rated toilets, which they blame on unexpected drainage problems encountered by contractors.

After complaints from the drivers, the rail company have hired two temporary Portaloos on an interim basis.

Angry taxi driver’s union branch secretary Ronnie Melling said: “The public toilets and the disabled toilets have been closed for weeks now and it is causing lots of problems.

“Our drivers aren’t happy because there is a lot of waiting around in our job and there are many occasions when our members need to use them, for which they pay the railway authorities handsomely.

“And we are hearing a lot of passengers very angry about getting off the train and then finding the lavatories all closed up.

“One of the drivers who is on the committee of the union spoke to one of the staff on the station and they just didn’t seem interested.

“We have asked them if we could use their staff toilets, upstairs, but we have been told in no uncertain terms, ‘you can’t use them.’

“It just isn’t good enough for a main line station.”

A spokesman for Virgin Trains has apologised for the situation and said that work was continuing on the £500,000 improvement project at Wigan North Western station which they manage.

He said: “The plan for provision of toilet facilities during the works was that one toilet would be kept open, while the other was being refurbished.

“However, the works have uncovered unforeseen problems with the drainage system and the toilets have had to be closed.”

He said that the work will see passengers benefiting from new toilets and a more attractive subway and staircase.

He said: “The high specification toilets will incorporate the latest energy-saving systems, including touch-free sensors to operate flushes and taps.

“The environmentally friendly design is intended for easy maintenance and cleaning.

“An accessible toilet will be included for people with mobility needs.”