On the 30th January, research and development project, inTRAIN was unveiled. Created by a Portuguese consortium, inTRAIN involved a full scale rail vehicle mock up, bringing together the different skills and capabilities of companies within the consortium. Throughout the development of the project, Almadesign contributed in various ways, including R&D, concept design, 3D surface development and more. Forbo Flooring’s marketing assistant, Chloe Taylor, discusses the project with Elizabeth Remelgado below.
How did the inTRAIN project begin?
The project’s scope was to integrate competences from different technological areas with the final goal to build a full-scale prototype to validate solutions and showcase the know-how and technological capabilities of the participants. The inTRAIN project was promoted by a consortium of companies: SETSA – Engineering and Mould making ; Active Space Technologies, Software and Systems; Almadesign, Product Design and Design Management; INEGI – Mechanical and Management Engineering Institute; ISQ – Welding and Quality Institute; Optimal Structural Solutions – Composite Manufacturer and Spin.Works – Aeronautical Engineering, with the participation of EMEF – Railway Maintenance. The project also had the support of ERT – Technical textiles, Forbo Flooring Systems – Flooring solutions for transportation and Climar – Light industry specialist.
What was inTRAIN’s vision?
The main objective was to design and build a mock-up of a suburban railway carriage that showcases a better future for commuter trains, focused on the integration of eco-efficient and user-friendly materials and technologies with an innovative design. The consortium also believes that the future of suburban/commuter trains will give more attention to passenger comfort, space versatility and environmental/economic operation concerns.
Where did you get your inspiration from for the project?
The interior design features an emotional and fluid language, inspired by nature forms and autumn colours. The autumn theme and colours were selected because they are both warm and relaxing, and because we believe this is the mood that passengers will look for when they leave their homes to the office or coming back, but it also suits the tourist experience which is supposed to be relaxed by definition. The internal environment is characterized by the optimization of space and user comfort. The ceiling has a central artery that integrates LED lighting systems, the sound system and air distribution, that branches towards the entrance doors, using a nature inspired organic design language.
What is the typical process you go through when you’re doing rail related projects?
Almadesign uses a design driven innovation process that begins with Idea Generation (Planning, Research and Concept Generation activities), followed by a Development Phase (Concept refinement, Product Engineering), and a Production Phase (Prototype building, Production set-up and follow-up). Almadesign also works in the Communication and Promotion of projects. The hardest part of the process is to get so many different companies and competencies to converge into a single set of solutions. This is where the design thinking approach – putting users at the centre of the project – and the ability of design to provide a common vision for the member of the project, at each stage, play a critical role.
How important do you think it is that the interior of trains looks modern and inviting?
Users have high expectations considering comfort, functionality and aesthetic appearance. A suburban train is used daily by commuters, who spend a lot of time travelling in the train and who expect comfort levels similar to automotive standards. A public transport system is much more inviting if you can create a cosy and home-like environment, which helps the deal with the stressful daily journey to work. During the project several interior concepts and layouts were developed, and a solution which allows the distribution of both seated and standing passengers was chosen, as well as a large multi-functional area that helps prevent bottlenecks for passenger flow and frees up space for large objects, such as strollers, wheelchairs, bikes, luggage, among others. The folding seats in the hall areas allow great flexibility and maximum capacity at peak times. Warm colours and natural finishes were chosen in order to create a home-like modern and inviting interior.
What was important to you when you were choosing floor covering for the inTRAIN project? What were you looking for?
We were looking for a cosy look and feel, and the wood effect provides a modern, natural, and a home-feeling effect. It was also important to choose a very technical product, which has great durability and ease of maintenance.
Why did you choose Forbo products?
For the inTRAIN project we chose Forbo Flooring products because they guaranteed us the look and feel we were going for, as well as provided us with a robust durable product, ideal for high traffic and easy maintenance. We are now looking at other solutions for future railway projects, such as Coral Brush and Marmoleum FR.
Do you think sustainability is important in the rail industry?
All public transport systems are important for sustainability, as they allow for the mass transportation of people, using much less energy and resources than private vehicles. With Intrain, we focused on the use of lightweight composite materials and modular structures for easy accessibility, maintenance and replacement.
What did you enjoy most about the inTRAIN project?
Working with a lot companies from different areas is always a challenge and a great opportunity to learn. The project integrated competences from different technological areas and we were able to design, develop and build a full-scale prototype to validate the solutions and showcase the know-how and technological capabilities of the participants. By managing the several technical aspects of the project and bringing together different competencies towards a common goal, we think we did a positive contribution to increase the functional and aesthetic quality of public transportation systems. Like in other similar project experiences where Almadesign has been involved, we believe this is the way to generate fresher and more innovative approaches to the transportation industry. And this has become increasingly more important to improve the passenger experience in a near future.
You can visit Almadesign’s website to find out more about the project here.
Interview conducted by Chloe Taylor, Marketing – International Key Accounts.