for new standards in accessible travel. The airport’s washrooms have been kitted out with specialised equipment including an adult change table, a hoist and a toilet with removable hand rails for people with severe disabilities. There is even an indoor lavatory for guide dogs.

And in further good news for travellers, Network Rail has scrapped washroom charges at all its UK railway stations. Passengers previously had to pay up to 50p to visit the facilities, but from April this year all Network Rail toilets are free to use as part of a drive to make stations more friendly and accessible.

Some transport hubs are now using technology to enhance their customers’ washroom experience. For example, airports at Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston have invested in software that incorporates a light above each toilet cubicle. The light shines red when the stall is occupied and green when it becomes vacant so that customers can tell more easily when a toilet is free. These smart washrooms also feature feedback screens at the exits where customers can log their satisfaction levels via a series of smileys on a tablet. Any issues can then be noted, tracked and managed.

Transport washrooms that are accessible, clean, hygienic, well-managed and free to use are all vastly improving the passenger experience. But these count for little if customers still have to face long queues – particularly if they end up missing their train or flight connection as a result.

And besides causing stress for the passenger, washroom congestion also makes life difficult for the cleaner. Staff will be under pressure to ensure that all paper and soap dispensers remain full and that all cubicles are kept in service – something that is difficult to achieve when the facilities are overcrowded. And this can cause a downward spiral because queues will only lengthen when a cubicle is out of action either because it needs urgent cleaning or because the toilet tissue supply has run out.

Our own Tork EasyCube software solution is addressing this issue at transport washrooms by providing staff with real- time information on levels of paper, soap and hand sanitiser in each washroom dispenser. Cleaners can also access real- time data on visitor numbers via their smartphone or tablet. This helps them to avoid product run-outs and attend to any urgent cleaning issues in a timely manner.

There are many other ways in which washroom traffic flow can be sped up in the large, busy washrooms of stations and airports. Dogleg partitions at the entrance in place of doors will avoid the risk of bottlenecks since visitors will no longer need to physically open a door and then squeeze

past each other in order to get in and out.

Hand washing facilities should be plentiful and positioned strategically so that people can gravitate naturally from the toilet to the sink, the hand drying facility and then the exit, passing a bin on the way where they can discard their used towel.

High-capacity dispensers that give out only one towel, sheet of toilet tissue or dose of soap at a time will run out less frequently and will keep the washroom traffic moving. Such dispensers will also reduce the cleaner’s burden by reducing the number of maintenance checks required. And systems that can be topped up at any time rather than when a roll or dispenser has actually run out will allow staff to carry out refills at their own convenience.

Hand-drying is often a tipping-point for queues in transit washrooms. No-one likes to leave a washroom with their hands still wet, but drying them with a jet air dryer takes at least 10 seconds – which can seem a long time to wait for someone who is already running late.

Tork PeakServe Continuous Hand Towel provides a good solution since it has been designed to speed up hand drying. Towels are dispensed in a continuous loop which allows the washroom visitor to take a towel and move away, freeing up space around 75% faster than could be achieved with an air dryer. The unit also serves more than 1,000 guests between refills – 600 more than other dispensers – which means that run-outs are never an issue, even in busy periods.

The transit washroom is changing as part of a

general trend to improve customer service. In fact, some airport washrooms are now even beginning to incorporate quirky features in a bid to surprise and amuse their customers.

For example, the ladies’ toilets at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport have a seaside theme enabling visitors to admire beach murals while enjoying

a soundtrack of seagulls calling and waves breaking on a distant shore.

And at Japan’s Kounotori Tajima Airport, some toilet cubicles feature images of flight controls, gauges and a vast expanse of sky to create the impression of being in a cockpit so that passengers can enjoy a pilot’s eye view during their pre-flight visit to the washroom.

Such enhancements will lift the traveller’s mood and enhance their day. And if they are supplied alongside more practical measures that will cut queues and improve hygiene, they will help to ensure that the passenger’s holiday gets off to a flying start. SPECIALIST CLEANING | 41

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