Train companies urged to source better seating

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) have called for more research into the design…...

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The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) have called for more research into the design of passenger seats on UK trains. This should be undertaken with passenger safety and comfort in mind, the board claimed.

The non-profit organisation further argued that the definition of comfort should be approached scientifically, considering sophisticated human factors and qualities such as seat shape, cushioning, leg room, shape and materials. Lumbar support, vibrations and journey length should also be taken into account.

The next step forward would be to set a seat specification standard for industry-wide procurement, the board has said. This would include minimum requirements for levels of comfort, fire safety and “crashworthiness”. Train operating companies and owning groups are said to be keen to move forward on this issue and have expressed their support for work to begin. Seat design manufacturers, suppliers and companies owning rolling stock have also reportedly backed the call.

The RSSB has said that establishing a seat specification would help companies involved in rolling stock procurement to satisfy the needs of the rail industry and passengers alike, in a way that is not currently possible.

“There simply aren’t any reliable industry-approved means to quantify passenger train seat comfort – they don’t exist,” said Jordan Smith, Senior Human Factor Specialist at RSSB. “The rail industry wants us to challenge that, by exploring the potential of a new specification which takes full account of the complexity of the human factors involved, and allows owners, suppliers and government procurement teams to efficiently specify and deliver seating in line with passenger comfort.”

South East rail operator Govia Thameslink has recently been criticised for the seating on its new Class 700 fleet, which some commuters have compared to concrete. However, the RSSB says that this was not the spur for the new research and that the industry had already recognised the need for more in-depth investigation into the issues of seat comfort.

Steve Trainor

Steve has over 28 years of success as CPO, MD and Procurement BPO leader in a range of industries. Steve is COO at Odesma, responsible for Odesma’s delivery capability & infrastructure.

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