2+2, 2+3 or lateral?

04 July 2011

No, not a maths question, but rail industry jargon for seating layouts on commuter trains. Some trains only have two sets of two seats – nice and comfy if you get a seat. Some have two plus three. Our research and a glance at any crowded train will show passengers dislike squeezing in or past others. Some trains have a mix – you need to know which bit to head for. A few trains, like the new London Overground ones have seats along the carriage like some tube trains. Not many seats, but plenty of standing room.

We did some work a year or so ago with Thameslink passengers. It was interesting how unaware they were of the huge investment and changes being made in the route – but if you work inside a goldfish bowl you can quickly forget that not everyone shares your interest in the detail. However, once explained the investment (subject to worries about price rises) was welcome. Then on to the new trains – how should they be laid out? Once the full new Thameslink service is up and running there will be 24 trains an hour going through the London tunnel sections of the route. New trains, new frequencies and other investment will attract many more passengers. Our passengers were very pragmatic. It is crowded and will get more crowded. Use pairs of two seats and allow more comfortable standing. Maybe we need to revisit that work now the trains are becoming a reality to make sure passengers’ needs are put first in the interior design.

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