In the heyday of British Rail, gentlemen were urged to “lift the seat” when using the lavatories.
Now rather more explicit instructions are being given to passengers on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains services to the west midlands, north west England and Scotland.
After the lavatory door shuts passengers are greeted with a pre-recorded message.
It declares: “Please don’t flush nappies, sanitary towels, paper towels, gum, old phones, unpaid bills, junk mail, your ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish down this toilet.”
Lavatories have already been adapted on the fleet of 20 Voyager trains and work is under way on its 56 tilting Pendolino trains.
At times there have been problems with lavatories being blocked by inappropriate items flushed down the bowl.
Passenger forums suggest that the issue of blocked lavatories is a major source of annoyance for the travelling public
This has prompted Virgin, which earlier this year was given an extension of its franchise on the West Coast Main Line, to act.
“When lavatories get blocked it means trains have to be taken out of service,” a spokesman said.
“It is also a huge inconvenience to passengers especially on a long trip.
“We wanted to do something which would grab people’s attention and a talking toilet does get the message across.
“They are being well received, but time will tell. We’re trying to face a serious issue in a chummy, informal way.”
The initiative was welcomed by Antony Smith, chief executive of the consumer watchdog, Passenger Focus.
“It can be frustrating to find that toilets are out of order or blocked, so hopefully the announcements will help this happen less.”
“Anything that gets useful information across to passengers in a fun way is to be welcomed.”