Mangaluru : I am a frequent traveler between Mangaluru and Margao-Goa, and I usually try to book my seats on Rajdhani Express for a comfort travel and also for the convenient use of the Western style toilet in it. But many a times when Rajdhani is not available I have no other option than travel by other Express trains- but the toilets are filthy. There is usually one western and one squat toilet at each end of a carriage. The ones in 1AC are likely to be cleaner than those in 2AC, which in turn would be cleaner than those in sleeper class, but it depends somewhat on which train and how long the journey. In AC coaches the toilets are normally reasonably clean by Indian standards, and in full working order. But using a squat toilet while the train is moving is quite risky- and I always avoid using it.
But sometimes the Western style toilets are filthy-men pee all over it-sometimes they pee on the walls and everything, sorry to say, bring lots of wipes? In these cases squat toilets are better-but very slippery around them, and especially when the train is moving. But sometimes I found the squat ones to be cleaner if you like to squat (I don’t ), hard to balance when the train is rocking back and forth lol.. Enjoy, it’s all worth it in the end!!! But on the point of safety, I think Western style toilets are much better than squat ones, especially in a moving train. And if you skid, chances are your foot will be in the commode.
Here is a story as reported in a National newspaper that, Konkan Railway Corp. Ltd during the wee hours of Friday morning had separate a coach from the train and cut open its bottom near the toilet to rescue an senior lady whose one leg had got entangled in the Indian style commode. The woman by the name Rabiyabi Sheik traveling with her husband from Mumbai to Goa. When the train had reached between Khed and Chiplun, Rabiyabi during the wee hours (around 3.30-4am) went to use the toilet. While coming out, she slipped and her leg got entangled in the commode, even though she had already opened the door.
She yelled for help-her husband came to her help along with other co-passengers. They got the washroom door dismantled for easy evacuation, but all in vain. The lady’s leg was still stuck in the commode. When the train reached Ratnagiri station around 5.30am, railway officials and doctors attended the lady in distress. Again here the efforts of the officials to rescue her was futile-so they decided to detach the coach from the train while accommodating its occupants in other coaches.
It is learnt that the detached coach was moved to a safer place, where the commode was cut open, taking precautions not to harm the woman’s leg. The rescue operation was successful-the lady was brought out safely, but with a swollen leg and later admitted to Ratnagiri Civil Hospital, where she is recovering. This lady is lucky to be rescued within a short time after she alerted her husband and co-passengers, since the washroom door was already unlocked.
Talking about squat type toilets, most of the time the surroundings are wet. Yeah, wet. You may have to hike up the cuffs of your slacks a bit. And that’s bit of work. Roll up your pants and leave your bag or purse with your traveling partner before going to the toilet. Once the train has been traveling for a few hours, you are going to want to get in and out quickly. No matter what, Yes I would still travel by train, it is an unforgettable experience, and you will be squatting quite regularly in not so clean cubicles regardless- so don’t miss the train.
In conclusion, think about your last train journey. Did the whiff of stench from the toilets make you cringe every time the door to your AC coach opened or you could the smell from the toilet in second class coach section. Did you hate having to use the stinking washrooms? With Indian Railways working around the clock to improve sanitation facilities for commuters, that stench might soon be a thing of the past. Spanking new vacuum toilets have been installed in some AC coaches. Vacuum toilets are currently used in air crafts. In the train toilets, the excreta is sucked out with the use of minimum water (0.5 to 1.5 litres), and the waste hence collected is discharged in closed drains at railway stations. These eco-friendly toilets consume much less water as compared to the normal toilets used in our trains currently. The toilets will also prevent erosion of rail tracks, as no discharge takes place.
According to sources, Indian Railways has also been working with bio toilets. So far, 17,388 conventional toilets have been replaced with bio toilets and the plan is to replace 17,000 more by the end of this year. The bio toilet system utilizes anaerobic bacteria which consume the waste material and convert it into water and gas. The water is passed through a chlorine tank and is discharged as clean water on the tracks, while the gas evaporates. If everything goes well, we will not have any more stinky toilets on the trains nor there could be anyone getting their foot stuck in the commode. Let’s hope for the best, when you want to go?
Note : Photos used for illustration only