Train takes comfort stop at Taihape

A lack of loo rolls on the KiwiRail Northern Explorer forced an unexpected stop in Taihape on Saturday to make sure passengers weren't caught short.

The delay saw the scenic passenger train, which operates from Auckland to Wellington, reach Palmerston North 10 minutes later than scheduled.

KiwiRail senior communications spokeswoman Jenni Austin said Saturday was "the most unusual situation", with staff forced to carry out a bit of extra replenishing of toilet paper stocks en route.

"Our staff work hard to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey for our passengers," she said. "Toilet paper usage can and does vary a lot onboard, after all it is a very personal thing, and staff keep a close eye on the toilets to keep them clean and well stocked during the journey.

"In this instance there was unusually heavy usage of toilet paper over the first part of the journey given the number of people on board."

Ms Austin said although there was still paper in every toilet, supplies were getting very low, with only one or two rolls in a couple of the toilets.

"We didn't want to risk running out and causing passenger discomfort if this heavy usage continued," she said. "The decision was made to stop briefly in Taihape, where there is a supermarket very close to the station so a staff member could duck across and buy some more.

"This took about 10 minutes, which meant a similar delay arriving into Palmerston North."

One passenger, who was travelling home to Palmerston North, said his carriage was in hysterics when staff made the announcement.

"They made an announcement that the train had run out of toilet paper and would be taking a stop in Taihape to resolve the situation," he said. "One of the staff members ran off the train and down the street and then five or 10 minutes later he came running back with some toilet paper under his arm.

"Meanwhile, I think everyone else thought it was hilarious, standing, watching at the windows taking photos."

The passenger said he was very pleased with his trip and the toilet paper escapade proved to be light entertainment rather than a strain.

"I think people laughed initially, the people near us thought it was quite humorous," he said. "It wasn't a big deal, we came in late because of it. They said they would try to make up time but I don't think they could."

There is one toilet in each carriage and one in the dining car on the Northern Explorer. There are usually four rolls in each toilet plus spares and in normal circumstances this is plenty for the journey.

Manawatu Standard