What do you do on a train that doesn't have a bathroom? Use a plastic bag! At least that's what the Dutch national railway has decided. The rail operator underlined the bags, introduced Friday, for those with the occasional minor emergency.
Last year, parliament agreed all trains should have toilets. However, in April, Transport Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen claimed that adding toilets to the 131 trains would be far too expensive. One report said the move might amount to the equivalent of more than $125 million.
So, they came up with an alternative.
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the principal passenger railway operating company in the Netherlands, confirmed on Friday that the so-called pee-bag is no joke. Unlike an airsickness bag (also known as barf bag, sick sack, or sick bag), the pee-bags will not be readily available in a passenger's seatback pocket. Instead, the bags will be kept out of sight in the conductor's booth.
Yes, we are planning to introduce the bags on our short-hop Sprinter trains, NS spokesman Nienke Kooistra told AFP. Kooistra stressed that they are for emergencies only, at which time a passenger may request the bag and use the unoccupied drivers' cabin at the back of the train.
What does a pee-bag look like?
The bags have a cup-shaped plastic top and contain a highly absorbent material that turns urine into a gel-like mixture.
Once you're pee-bag has turned into something resembling a stress-relief ball, it can be sealed and tossed in the garbage.
Passengers and politicians were in shock when NS announced their unusual solution for those who need a bathroom on the train. The general public has long been unhappy with the short-haul sprinter trains' bathroomless design.
Dutch national television interviewed several rail passengers who were less than impressed with the idea.
Are you serious? No, no way, I just can't see myself doing 'it' in that, one female passenger told its NOS morning journal program.
For a man it may be easier, for a woman that's just impossible, she said.
With their workspace turned into a bathroom, Dutch train drivers were not so keen on the idea either.
When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke. Wim Eilert of the country's driver's union (VVMC) told the ANP news agency.
To let people pee where somebody else needs to work, that will not do. It's distasteful, he added.