UK: Concepts for train interior designs which could accommodate changed passenger requirements following the pandemic and with the ability to switch between ‘commuter’ and ‘leisure’ arrangements have been unveiled by operator Go-Ahead, leasing company Angel Trains and design agency Seymourpowell.
Sliding armrests could allow seats to be switched from airline-style individual seats to communal benches for family groups. Neighbouring seats could be folded down at less busy times to provide additional surfaces for passengers’ belongings, laptops or food and drink.
Secure cabinets could be provided to store folding bicycles, with vertical racks at the end of coaches to hold full-size bikes.
Other changes being examined include the installation of permanent hand sanitiser dispensers, antimicrobial finishes and touchless doors to reflect greater public awareness of hygiene. Digital displays would show where seats are available, and under-seat storage areas could be created if future passengers carry more luggage.
Some coaches could have perch seats and benches to provide extra space for passengers to plug in and work on electronic devices, reflecting an increasing expectation that it should be possible to work or stay connected anywhere.
‘Passengers are returning to the railways and we expect to welcome many more back as further Covid-19 restrictions are lifted’, said Go-Ahead’s Chief Strategy & Customer Officer Katy Taylor on May 24.
‘Travel habits are changing, though, and we need to plan for the future. The morning rush hour is likely to be less acute, with more demand for off-peak services during the day, as people space their journeys out. Commuting patterns will be more flexible than the traditional nine-to-five for many of our passengers, and we want our trains to reflect that flexibility.
‘We’re anticipating a long-term increase in demand for leisure travel by rail as people are encouraged to leave their cars at home. And we believe many more of our customers will arrive at stations by bicycle, with an expectation that their bikes can be accommodated comfortably onboard.’
Go-Ahead told Rail Business UK that the design concepts are intended as ideas for discussion, and there are no specific plans to test them.