New flexible train interiors unveiled

GO-AHEAD Group and rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains have unveiled a potential interior layout for trains in the future, which would allow seating and luggage space to be adjusted according to demand and the type of travellers on board.

There would also be dedicated space in each vehicle for fold-up and full-size bicycles, while secure cabinets are also being considered.

The alternatives have been dubbed ‘commuter mode’ and ‘leisure mode’.

Go-Ahead emphasised that its plans are early blueprints. They include sliding armrests to allow seats to be switched from airline-style individual seats to communal benches for family groups. Neighbouring seats could be folded down when pressure on space was less acute, to provide additional surfaces for travellers’ belongings, such as laptops or food and drink.

Other changes being examined include permanent hand sanitiser dispensers, antimicrobial finishes and touchless doors to reflect greater public awareness of hygiene.

Digital displays would show passengers where seats are available, while new under-seat storage areas could be created to allow for passengers carrying more luggage.

Go-Ahead’s chief strategy and customer officer Katy Taylor said: ‘Passengers are returning to the railways and we expect to welcome many more back as further Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. 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 on board.’