HIGH SPEED: On April 13 Bombardier unveiled a portfolio of design concepts for a future generation of high speed trains from Italian industrial stylist Zagato.

Speaking at a launch event staged with Wallpaper magazine at the Salone del Mobile design fair in Milano, Bombardier Transportation President André Navarri said that combining 'our technical excellence with world class design ... will change the perception of very high speed rail travel for the future'. Bombardier had worked previously with Zagato on the Incentro and Eurotram projects for Milano and Porto.

The design concepts have been developed with Zagato as part of Bombardier's preparations for several forthcoming tenders for high speed trains, with China identified as the principal target. President of Zagato Dr Andrea Zagato said that designing a train for China could not be described as 'a mere project ... it must be an icon'. Zagato was chosen as Bombardier's partner because 'we wanted the wow factor', according to Roberto Tazzioli, Chief Country Representative for Italy.

Top target for Bombardier's commercial team is the rolling stock for China's planned 1337 km high speed line between Beijing and Shanghai, for which around 200 trainsets able to run at 300 to 350 km/h may be needed. Tenders are likely to be called in 2006.

Also in Bombardier's sights is a forthcoming tender from Chinese Railways for a fleet of 250 km/h trains; bids for about 20 sets are expected to be called within the next few months. Last October Bombardier secured a contract from CR for 20 regional high speed trains through its Bombardier Sifang Power joint venture; these will be based on the wide-bodied Regina design previously supplied to Swedish operators.

Add to this the contract for passenger coaches for services to Lhasa (RG 4.05 p184), and Bombardier considers itself well placed to capture future orders. 'We have all the technologies', claimed Navarri, adding that the products in the market for high speed 'are getting a little old, and it's time for something new, and that's design.'

Much emphasis is placed on interior styling and ambience. One option being developed is convertible seating similar to the airline practice of converting short-haul business class seats to tourist class on busy flights. The idea is that two standard class seats would be sold as one business class 'compartment', with the squab of one seat flipping over to provide a surface 'usable as a side table, wardrobe, extra storage, slide-out table or ottoman'. Some seats would also be set at an angle away from the aisle to create 'a more personal space'.

Lighting is another area identified for attention. 'The new designs provide the possibility of altering the mood by clever use of lighting' with train operators able 'to play with the lights to create the perfect ambience for the passenger at any time of the day by increasing or decreasing lighting intensity or changing lighting colours'.

Bombardier also envisages that it would be possible 'to adapt the interior layout to the type of operation on a particular time of day - for example the luggage capacity and number of seats can be increased or decreased.'

  • Bombardier is expecting Trenitalia to issue a tender for high speed trains this year. This would be for 30 trainsets with distributed power, plus an option for 30 more. The design will need to be TSI-compliant, and capacity within a train length of 200m will be 450 to 500 seats. The fleet is intended as the replacement train for the ETR500, and a need for 110 trainsets by 2020 has been identified.