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Tyne and Wear Metro passengers call for LU-style seating in new fleet

Tyne and Wear Metro passengers have called for seating on future rolling stock to be similar to that of the London Underground, a Nexus-commissioned survey has revealed, as the executive body looks to build its business case to government for a new £540m fleet of trains.

The survey, published in a joint report by Nexus and the transport user watchdog Transport Focus, forms part of the North East Combined Authority’s (NECA’s) long-term strategy of putting over £1bn of investment into the existing Metro system over the next 20 years.

With Nexus seeking to understand passengers’ preferences for the design of the new trains, the survey has found popular support for ‘linear’ seating along the inside wall of the carriage and plenty of standing room – similar to modern London Underground and many other major city underground and rail trains.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “We were delighted to work with Nexus to help them understand what their passengers want from their new trains.

“There is no better way to ensure the design meets their needs than to ask the users themselves.”

Transport Focus’s research indicates that perception of space was a key issue for Metro passengers. While 93% of passengers reported being happy with the ease of getting on and off current Metro trains, passengers complained that trains can get congested and showed interest in features that encourage a more even spread of passengers within the carriages.

Passengers particularly identified the current seating layout of Metro trains to be a key contributor to the lack of space. However, the perception was not universal as those travelling outside of peak times showed preferences for designs involving a greater mix of seating, while passengers also asked to stick with the current two-carriage design.

Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Nexus, explained that the body has talked to its passengers early on so their views can be reflected fully as it completes the business case for the new trains and begins to approach potential suppliers.

“Metro is the busiest local rail system outside London and our passengers have shown a clear preference for linear seating because of the space and flexibility it provides,” Hughes said.

“Because we have involved our passengers now we can challenge potential suppliers to study and respond directly to this research – and to meet and talk to passengers themselves as the design process moves forward.”

Other recommendations identified by the research included grab-handles throughout the new trains to encourage standing, the provision of wi-fi across the Metro service and improving signage for priority seating.

Transport Focus’s research, conducted during September and October last year, adds to Nexus’s own work and that undertaken by the University of Newcastle’s Open Lab, gained through a variety of pop-up events.

To see the summary report of Transport Focus’s research on the design of future Metro trains please visit here.

(Image c. Phil Thirkell)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Manek Dubash   07/02/2017 at 15:23

I'd bet they would prefer comfortable seats too, not the wafer-thin, hard boards that most modern multiple-units offer us.

Geordie   08/02/2017 at 14:45

Good idea, it will stop idiots putting their feet on seats

Ron   10/02/2017 at 16:57

If there was any one reason why I would join Mr. Grayling in his opposition to Tfl taking over inner London commuter services it is their fondness for longitudinal bench seating as apparently favoured by Tyneside commuters This might be appropriate on the underground with restricted vehicle widths, but on main line stock - no ! I avoid using London Overground and on those included on SW Trains inner suburban services. There is a constant leg battle between those seated and standees, All with no view but the bottom of the passenger in front of you, providing a miserable journey. Far better to settle for 2+ 1 seating across the carriage giving plenty of standing space and seat -top handgrips for standees to hold. It is amazing that trams where a wide aisle is really necessary often use 2+2 seating!

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