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Sources

Dutch Train Company ‘Solves’ Toilet Fiasco With Emergency Pee-In-A-Bag

About 130 of Dutch Rail’s new trains don’t have toilets. So what are passengers to do when nature calls? Call the company's proposed solution what you wish -- Travel John, Pee-in-a-bag, Urinal-in-a-box -- not all are convinced that this is a mark

Travel John-brand portable urinals
Travel John-brand portable urinals


*NEWSBITES

The Dutch national rail company, the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), knows it has a good product. Despite tight scheduling and a complex railway system, NS's trains are almost always on time. The rail company is so confident, in fact, it guarantees passengers half the price of their ticket back if a train is 30 minutes late, and a free ride if a train is more than an hour late. Terms like this would drive a less efficient company to ruin.

But of course nobody's perfect. NS's solid reputation is suddenly being sullied over a matter involving nature, as in the kind that occasionally calls. It turns out that NS chose not to equip 131 of its new trains with toilets, figuring the travel distances for which the particular trains are used are short enough that passengers, even if they had to go, could just hold it.

Big mistake. Passengers, and even some politicians, say the oversight is no laughing matter. "It's unbelievable, nearly all trains offer Internet access, but you can't take a pee," said Green politician Ineke van Gent in the Dutch House of Representatives. Railway personnel also complained. But it was the NS's solution to the problem that really caused an outcry.

Introducing the "Travel John" – a "leak-proof, reusable, disposable urinal," as the packaging says. "The Civilized Solution! Anytime! Anywhere!" the manufacturer's website boasts. The NS says the pocket-potty is to be used in extreme emergencies, such as when "a train is unexpectedly stopped en route." Should, under such circumstances, a passenger have a very pressing need, he or she can ask the conductor for a Travel John and retire to the empty train driver's cabin at the end of the train.

Travel John pee bags are filled with white powder that turns to gel on impact with liquid. Passengers may either leave their Travel John on the train, or take it with them when they get off and toss it into the nearest trash container.

So what do passengers think about NS's "civilized solution"? Lieke van der Boom is on her way from Venlo to Nijmwegen. The train is on time, clean and fast, the air-conditioning system not only works it doesn't make any noise. And she has a seat. Van der Boom is not, however, happy. She can't get her head around having to pee into a bag. "Most people will probably just end up holding it," she says.

Read the full story in German by Torsten Thissen

Photo - hmboo

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Ideas

The Latin American Left Is Back, But More Fractured Than Ever

The Left is constantly being hailed as the resurgent power in Latin America. But there is no unified Left in the region. The "movement" is diverse — and its divisons are growing.

Photo of a woman walking by a wall with street art of Venezuelan presidents Maduro and Chavez in Caracas

Street art of Venezuelan presidents Maduro and Chavez in Caracas

Farid Kahhat

-Analysis-

LIMA — Lula da Silva's reelection to the presidency in Brazil is the 25th consecutive democratic election in Latin America in which the ruling party has lost power. There appears to be general discontent with ruling parties, caused partly by external factors: the world's worst pandemic in a century, the worst recession since the 1990s, and sharpest inflation rate in 40 years.

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