It has been unpleasant (unhealthy?) since Voyagers were new, when I did complain to Virgin X Country because I thought the carpets had been flooded with effluent, but I'm told the trains are meant to smell this way. It surely would be cheap to correct this particular problem - and then maybe start on seat reservation signs, lack of legroom and window seats that don't have a window - but I realise that these are more difficult deficiencies. How bizarre that 21st century trains should be so much more uncomfortable than those of 50 years ago.
- 1 David Stewart David reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 21:36 31 Aug 2011
David Stewart David wrote to Crosscountry
21:36 31 Aug 2011
Here is the letter that David Stewart David wrote.
Voyager trains are unsatisfactory in many ways, but one problem could be cured. When you board the train, or stand near the toilet, there is an overwhelming stink like a back alley on a Friday night. I am told that this is the smell of disinfectant. If so could the smell be changed to something neutral?
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- 4 Katrina Navickas commented close 22:05 31 Aug 2011
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- 6 Myf Nixon commented close 16:06 06 Sep 2011
Aidan R commented
20:14 18 Sep 2011
I'm a regular train user but occasional on this train type.
Every time I see my journey involves a Cross Country Train, my heart sinks.
This is because the trains always smell bad. So bad it's unpleasant to breathe.
I am not talking about one journey I had, this is every CC train I've ever been on.
I am ignorant of the 'intended smell' policy because I'm a newcomer to the stink but as a passing-trade passenger I just assumed it is because they are carpeted and the carpets are not cleaned properly. Some awful scented product must be squirted on them to kill germs and the effect is like posies on corpses.
I have developed a method to survive the nasty-aired journeys. I cannot afford a first-class ticket but if there is a first class carriage I spend the whole journey just outside first class, where the carpets seem to be less soiled.
David Stewart David commented
16:35 26 Jan 2012
This problem seemed trivial but easily solved, so I mentioned it to a manager with X Country trains, whose attitude was "we inherited Voyagers". I gave up because I can usually avoid Voyagers because my most common journey is Newcastle to York and back, and I can use TPE or East Coast trains. I put the smell of Voyagers in the public domain in the hope that it might cause shame.
- 9 David Stewart David added an update close 16:38 26 Jan 2012
- 10 Karen Williams Pearson commented close 09:32 14 Jul 2012
Lee Osborne commented
23:26 20 Jul 2012
It's actually a major design flaw on these trains that is very hard to fix. Basically the toilet effluent tanks are heated by hot exhaust pipes running past them. Hot gases then escape from the tanks and get sucked into the aircon system - so it's the fumes of hot raw sewage. It's impossible to do anything without drastic rebuilds. :(
Dave H commented
23:51 20 Jul 2012
Several issues about 'toilet' end of these vehicles.
1) the exhaust pipe is taken up through the body (inside) behind the panels in the corridor past the toilet (or immediately behind the seats in the former catering vehicle) this creates an uncomfortably hot area, especially under certain climatic conditions, and the vehicle air conditionsing reacts by going in to extreme chill mode, making the opposite end of the vehicle positively arctic whilst those by the 'toilet' are toasted. This 'hot' zone enhances the fugginess and potential to smell a bit.
2) the zenith of UK railway coaches, the Mk 2f and Mk 3 have air conditioning with subtle design detailing that works to keep the smell of the toilets out of the saloon. The grilles in the sliding door and then in the bottom of the toilet door provide the route for the air under a slightly positive pressure to leack through and out of the grille at the top of the toilet window. In this way about 10% of the air circulating in the air conditioning is being replaced on every cycle, BUT more important, the flow of air out of the coach is taken out through the toilet and the flow of air (and smells) goes out through the toilet and there is no flow back in to the coach. In the Pendolinio there seems to be a positive feed in to the toilet from the a/c system pushing air from the toilet in to the corridor, and then the saloon, the Voyager is a similar design.
3) the toilet waste is carried around in a tank under the carriage. This tank needs to be vented as it fills up, and the vent needs to be somewhere. there is a suggestion that the replenishment air for the a/c system may be drawn in close to the tank vent. HST's had a similar problem with smelly brakes and this was solved by having a flap which shut when the brakes were applied to stop the a/c drawing in the smells.
4) on a Voyager train the rentention tanks might be carrying a further 1-2 tons of smelly toilet waste, between overnight emptying. There is an alternative option, used by the military and on building sites (both fairly harsh environments) where the waste is fed in to a very high temperature furnace and vapourised (toilet waste is basically a collection of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen compounds with vapourise in to gases commonly found in the atmosphere). This system would remove the smell, and reduce the weight being carried around as well as eliminating additional mileage to the costly toilet emptying facilities. But this is rather too innovative for the rail industry and as yet no one has even run a trial on a passenger train.
- 13 Lorraine Roberts commented close 13:23 28 Sep 2012
Richard Tucker commented
23:07 04 Mar 2013
Like many, I have to endure an acrid sewage smell on the Cross Country Southampton Central train every morning on my commute to work. I wondered whether it was worth speaking to the environmental health (or the equivalent public health people) as it can't be healthy to inhale that smell, and by extension particles of human excrement, into your body.
Ian Hannaway commented
16:34 21 May 2013
After my third time on the Cross Country service from Newcastle to Glasgow, I just had to google the stink and hey presto I found this thread. I just cannot understand how this is viewed by X Country as acceptable and allowed to continue? It makes me retch and by the time I reach my destination I feel as if the smell has impregnated my clothing and skin, it's disgusting. The first class service on this carrier is woeful. Meals microwaved and served in cardboard boxes, eaten whilst inhaling the miasma of sewerage vapours is not my idea of enjoyable travel.
Next time I have to take public transport on this journey, if it's still X Country, I'm thinking on upgrading to Megabus.
Sarah Beesley commented
19:57 08 Oct 2013
I'm having to commute Southampton to Reading for the next 3 months, and Cross Country is the "best" service on offer. Once an hour I can have a train that takes me to my destination within (a theoritical) 45'. In the morning, it seems to be on time.
What is it with The Stench. It is absolutely vile. Short of shampooing all the seats and carpets and flushing the air-con, I'm not sure what can be done. The afternoon trains do not seem as reliable as the morning's.
Fortunately the staff is pleasant, and admirable for working in such cramped and smelly conditions. Surely that can't be healthy, can it?
- 17 Roland Karlman commented close 12:08 04 Mar 2014
Michael Finch commented
19:02 25 May 2015
Living in Telford Shropshire, if I use a train it will normally be a class 158 provided by Arriva trains Wales, or a class 170 provided by London Midland, both of which as far as I am concerned, are quite adequate and comfortable types of diesel multiple units. However last week, I had to travel back from Birmingham on one of these Voyagers, and quite frankly it was vile, cramped seating, noisy, and lumpy riding, and generally not a very nice place to be. This worries me somewhat, as I assume these are used by Virgin for longer journeys, well I can tell you, I was glad to get off the heap at Telford and certainly would not want to journey far on one.