Northern and Transport for Greater Manchester to deliver accessible toilets at Stockport's rail stations

In Stockport, pod toilets will be introduced at Gatley, Heaton Chapel, Romiley and Rose Hill Marple

Northern and Transport for Greater Manchester to deliver accessible toilets at Stockport's rail stations

Northern and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have announced they will be rolling out brand new accessible toilet facilities across stations in Stockport and Greater Manchester.

On November 1, the first facility was opened at Guide Bridge station in Ashton-under-Lyme, and the new toilet pod represents the first of 83 fully accessible toilets set to be installed at rail stations across Greater Manchester over the next three 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.

In Stockport, pod toilets will be introduced at Gatley, Heaton Chapel, Romiley and Rose Hill Marple.

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.

New accessible toilets facilities will be introduced into existing station buildings or upgraded at Heald Green, Bramhall, Hazel Grove and Marple.

In addition, surveys will be taking place at the following stations in the Stockport area, which will have either a pod toilet or accessible toilet facilities introduced: Cheadle Hulme, Middlewood, Reddish North, Strines and Woodley.

Simon Elliott, TfGM’s head of rail programme, said: “The provision of these state-of-the-art toilet facilities 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.”

Sarah Morgan, Community Rail Officer for Stockport Council, said: “This is great news for rail users in Stockport, and will really benefit those who are using the stations that are part of our South East Community Rail Partnership.

“The new, accessible facilities will benefit residents and visitors and will only help to encourage more people to travel by rail.”

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, will be installed and these can be disconnected and moved to new locations as needed and as and when the railway estate changes.

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.”