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PriestmanGoode unveils flexible new rail interiors at London’s Marylebone Station

28 March 2022 | PriestmanGoode

  • The new Proteus rail interior system is a collection of ideas that offer more flexibility, improved comfort and design features that benefit both commuters and leisure travellers.
  • Funded through the Department for Transport’s First of a Kind competition run by Innovate UK, supported by project partners Angel Trains and Chiltern Railways.
  • ‘Demonstrator’ in Marylebone Station until 3rd April 

Transport design consultancy PriestmanGoode has unveiled a new train interior that aims to transform future rail experience. The new Proteus rail interior system is a collection of ideas that offer more flexibility, improved comfort and design features that benefit both commuters and leisure travellers. It responds to evolving patterns of travel following the pandemic and supports the goal of bringing more passengers back to rail.

PriestmanGoode was awarded funding for the project through the Department for Transport’s First of a Kind competition run by Innovate UK, with their application sponsored and supported by project partners Angel Trains and Chiltern Railways. A specially constructed ‘demonstrator’ unveiled today in Marylebone Station allows members of the public to test the new seats and aspects of the train layout.

Proteus takes its name from the Greek God’s ability to assume many forms and foretell the future. The main features that respond to different patterns in commuter travel, a busier leisure market, increased concerns for personal space and hygiene, include:

  • An innovative staggered seat layout that eliminates ‘shoulder clash’ and a headrest to improve comfort and privacy
  • A wider, more accessible aisle with a 2-2 seat configuration achieved by the removal of the unpopular and under-utilised middle seat
  • Pairs of seats designed for comfort, with tip-up seat pan on aisle seats, allowing passengers to keep cases or fold-up bikes close-by
  • Benefits for families with buggies allowing them to travel together in the carriage in open bay seats that offer the same tip-up seat flexibility
  • Flexible spaces adjacent to all entrance vestibules with longitudinal seating that can be used for multiple purposes, depending on demand
  • The latest developments in sustainable materials, trims and finishes used

Son Tran, director at PriestmanGoode said: “The design adds comfort and features that should make rail the first choice over certain distances. Having witnessed passengers in various layouts available today, our conclusion was that future train interiors need to be more flexible to meet different passenger needs at different times of the day or different stages of the week. This flexibility needs to be built-in for operators to avoid engineering intervention.”

“A further requirement was to maintain capacity onboard in anticipation that the volume of passengers will eventually return to pre-pandemic levels. We have eliminated many of the current pain points, with only a very minimal reduction in overall seat count.”

“Future journeys must be the best possible experience to compete against the convenience of working from home and get people out of their cars,” added Mike Lambourn,
senior project head at PriestmanGoode
. “The staggered seat design is an innovation that provides a greater sense of space. The tip-up seat pan on aisle seats encourages a flow of passengers to the fixed window seats first and creates valuable space for passengers who want to complete the first or last mile of a journey on a fold-up bike - as an example. A great focus was placed on accessibility, with flexible spaces adjacent to every set of doors. The longitudinal seats in these areas allow alternative use for bike storage, standing or additional luggage - ensuring the entrances remain unblocked.”

The design team at PriestmanGoode benefited from a clea commercial context throughout the project following the Class 165 train layout and engineering partner Quantum Seating Limited have built the seats in the UK.

James Brown, Decarbonisation Manager and Project Sponsor at Angel Trains, said: “The rail industry has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, and we want to ensure passengers are comfortable getting back on trains, one of the greenest and most efficient modes of transport. These innovative designs from PriestmanGoode show how rail travel can be optimised in a post-Covid world to provide passengers with a greater sense of personal space. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with them alongside Chiltern Railways, the Department for Transport and Innovate UK.”

Ian Hyde, Engineering Director for Chiltern Railways commented: “We are always focused on how we can improve the experience of our customers and always looking for innovation and creativity. This seating concept demonstrates what may be achieved with clever and varied thinking and it will be interesting to see the feedback received. Whilst we have no current plans to change our train layouts, the concepts presented are a useful consideration as the railway adapts to changing customer needs and
expectations, particularly around increases in leisure travel across the network.”

“Our partners Muirhead, Replin and Altro have supported innovation by providing the latest sustainable materials, trims and finishes for the demonstrator,” added Mike Lambourn of PriestmanGoode. “We’ve taken a very pragmatic approach to the First of a Kind brief, balancing ground-breaking ideas with the constraints of existing rolling stock. The outcome is suitable for both new rolling stock and retrofit opportunities as operators around the world look to build flexibility into their train interiors. The insights gathered from the public in these two weeks will be vital to validate the decisions we’ve made.” 

Note to Editors

Media contact
Guy Genney  +44 (0)7968 350392

The Proteus demonstrator is located beyond the ticket barriers at Platform 1 in Marylebone Station until Sunday 3rd April. In parallel, an interactive window display at PriestmanGoode’s showroom at 150 Great Portland Street in London’s West-End offers a visual and immersive experience for those who would like to find out more.

About PriestmanGoode
PriestmanGoode is a design studio dedicated to designing a better future. The London-based company specialises in human-centred design and improving customer experience on large scale projects in transport, infrastructure, aviation, hospitality and product design. Their work is used by millions of people around the world, every day.

About Angel Trains
Angel Trains is one of Britain’s leading rolling stock asset managers and has been an owner and lessor of rolling stock since 1994. The company leases to 15 operators and two open access operators in the UK. Angel Trains is passionate about delivering high quality, modern assets to its customers and is committed to working with the Government, the Rail Delivery Group and other industry stakeholders to provide innovative and sustainable funding solutions to modernise and improve the UK’s rolling stock
fleet. Angel Trains has invested £5 billion in new rolling stock and refurbishment programmes since 1994 and is one of the largest private investors in the industry.

About Chiltern Railways
Chiltern Railways is part of the Arriva group, one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe, employing 53,000 people and delivering 2 billion passenger journeys a year across 14 European countries. Chiltern operates commuter/regional rail passenger services from its Central London terminus at London Marylebone to stations across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, as well as long-distance services to the West Midlands along two routes. The company is committed to providing innovative and customer focused transport solutions that are built around the needs of passengers, transport bodies and tendering authorities.

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