“Pee bags” to the rescue

Dutch Railways passengers in January 2007.

Facing down complaints that its new short-hop “Sprinter” trains don’t have bathrooms, Dutch National Railways announced Friday that it will provide plastic bags to riders in emergency situations.

The so-called “pee bags” are high-tech contraptions, The Associated Press reports.

According to the AP:

The bags have a cup-shaped plastic top and contain a highly absorbent material that turns urine into a gel-like mixture. After use the bags can be sealed and thrown in the trash.

The bags will be available from the train's driver or conductor, and passengers will be directed to use them in an unoccupied driver's cabin at the back of the train, Agence France-Presse reports.

The bags are intended for use during emergencies, such as power failures, which might strand passengers between stations for hours, the BBC reports. Under normal conditions, Sprinter trains stop at stations, most of which have public toilets, every 5 to 10 minutes.

"When you have to wait three or four hours on a train, then it is quite logical you have some people aboard who need to go to a restroom," spokesman Jeroen von Geusau told the BBC.

Dutch train drivers said they were revolted by the idea of passengers using their workspace as a toilet, AFP reports.

''When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke,'' Wim Eilert of the country's driver's union told AFP.