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Tomorrow’s Train Design Today

RTM’s David Stevenson looks at the three design concepts that have made it to the finals of the Tomorrow’s Train Design Today competition.

Three finalists have been picked to receive a share of £2.2m funding to help shape the future design of passenger rolling stock across the UK rail network.

The finalists of the Tomorrow’s Train Design Today competition are: 42 Technology, based in Cambridgeshire; Andreas Vogler with the German Aerospace Center DLR, Germany; and PriestmanGoode, London.

The RSSB and Network Rail funded Future Railway Programme, in conjunction with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), invited architects, engineers and designers worldwide to propose new design solutions to improve passenger rolling stock.

When the competition was launched last year, applicants were asked to come up with ideas to tackle one or both of these challenges: 4CS or next-gen train interiors.

For the 4CS challenge, the organisers wanted entrants to tackle the issues of cost reduction, carbon reduction, capacity improvement and customer experience. Designers were also encouraged to use novel, lightweight, more sustainable materials as part of their design concept

As part of the next-gen train interiors challenge, participants needed to consider medium-term time horizon designs for rolling stock interiors with a focus on flexibility and adaptability.

The competition attracted 48 entries, with a shortlist of 10 designs selected in August 2014. Each got the chance to further develop their schemes.

Entrants were given until January this year to develop their schemes, and following interviews with all shortlisted teams, the panel identified the finalists for further funded development.

Adaptable carriage

The entry from 42 Technology, an ‘Adaptable Carriage’, is a flexible-purpose carriage achieved through the automatic stowage and movement of seating.

2 42T flexible carriage model seats stowed

These seats can be either traditional sit-down seats or perches, can face either direction and be stowed away. The consultancy says: “When passenger occupancy levels are low, for example at off-peak times or when commuter trains have delivered their passengers and are returning to the suburbs, the seats can be automatically moved and stowed to allow room for freight.”

Jon Spratley, director at 42 Technology, who led the design team for the winning submission, said: “The design concept is based on a more flexible way of using train carriages to help meet four key objectives: reducing costs and carbon emissions, while increasing capacity and customer satisfaction.

“Everyone at 42 Technology is delighted that our outline designs and business case study have been so strongly endorsed by the competition judges. The next stage is for us to move ahead with detailed designs and to build a full scale demonstration model showing the adaptable carriage in action.”

3 42T Jon Spratley with adaptable carriage model

Above: 42 Technology director Jon Spratley led the consultancy’s multi-disciplinary team in developing its initial concepts and winning submission


PriestmanGoode designed the Horizon train to increase capacity while improving the passenger experience. The design includes a seating concept that can flex between peak and off-peak periods, to offer a standard seat during off-peak and a commuter seat in peak hours, which allows greater capacity but also an enhanced environment with table, power and connections for working whilst in ‘commuter mode’.

Paul Priestman, director at PriestmanGoode, said: “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in this much-needed competition. 1.6 billion passengers travelled on the UK’s railways last year, more than double that in 1995. With increasing numbers of people being priced out of cities and moving to the suburbs, the pressure on our trains, and commuter trains in particular, is forecast to continue.

“Passengers are already facing cramped conditions. It’s imperative that we find a long-term solution to tackle the big issue of rail overcrowding, to alleviate pressure on the system, improve passenger experience, quality of life and value for money.’

Aeroliner 3000

The third finalist, Andreas Vogler with the German Aerospace Center DLR, has come up with Aeroliner 3000, which considers the application of lightweight thinking in the rail sector.

The designers claim that through the combination of a number of singular elements relating to aerodynamics, locomotion, structure, interactive control systems and even passenger psychology “a modern design and engineering culture informed by consequent lightweight thinking” can deliver an innovative double-decker high-speed train for the UK.

A spokesman at Andreas Vogler Studio said: “We are happy to announce that we are one of the three finalists identified for further funded development of our double-decker high-speed train design Aeroliner 3000 for the UK rail network.

“Andreas Vogler Studio has successfully completed an in-depth feasibility study for a new double decker high speed train design together with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Vehicle Concepts DLR in Stuttgart. This also continues the history of successful train designers based in Munich.”

Three other entrants – Automotive Trim Developments Ltd, Seymour Powell and Transport Design International (TDI) – were highly commended by the judging panel, which included senior people at FirstGroup, Angel Trains, Hitachi Rail Europe, and the Design Council.

David Clarke, RSSB director of innovation, said:  “The Tomorrow’s Train Design Today competition produced some very high-quality proposals which are targeted at improving the rail sector and help to achieve the goals of the Rail Technology Strategy.”


Andrew Mcintyre   11/08/2017 at 10:48

Im pleased that Interlocking Decks have finally been accepted for UK-structure Gauge, dispelling misconceptions that quick entry/egress would necessarily be compromised. Bus designers could even follow suit. Talking of which, this latter party could take cues from less-successfully pilotted Bullied DD4 BUT effectively stack THREE decks ie centre & top seating gacing sideways with the lowest accessible to prams & wheelchairs.

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