Transport interior design shifts as passengers require a ‘home from home’

Public transport is gradually changing to support everyday lifestyles and malleable work patterns and to promote an environment to accommodate the public’s changing needs. There are increasing expectations from passengers for public transport to be an extension of their home so they are able to use their travelling time effectively. It’s becoming more and more necessary that the travel environment is adaptable to the passenger’s preference; relaxing, socialising or working. Therefore, public transport needs to be welcoming, homely and familiar.

rail interior design
PriestmanGoode’s ‘Mercury Train’ design concept

This trend is pleasing to designers as no more do they need to focus on the standard mundane and usual anonymity, but concentrate more on creating an environment which is aesthetically pleasing as well as incorporating technology to make the public transport space more appealing. Akin to a ‘home-from-home’, designers are starting to favour use of luxury materials, soft colours and experimental lighting to create ambiance and interesting moods.

Moving away from uniformity, regularities and evenness can only bring a breath of fresh air to public transport, whether it is the design of new vehicles or the refurbishment of old ones.

rail interior design 2

Initial impressions of a vehicle are very important, a vehicle which is well presented and always looks fresh and clean can help convert those initial impressions into a lasting memory of a really positive journey experience.  Perception of value for money is the number one priority for passengers and well designed and presented interiors can certainly help to support this.  Productivity is also a key issue for today’s travelers so provision of space, privacy and functional features are essential.

Designers are encouraged to use novel, lightweight, more sustainable materials as part of their design concept but to also include capacity improvement, customer experience and the usual cost reduction.

Design flexibility is a key aspect of the shift in public transport design, breaking down into many aspects such as colour, branding, technology and layout.

Colour is one of the most powerful ways to enhance the passenger’s experience and reinforce a brand.  Choosing an interior colour scheme requires careful consideration. Colour can influence how passengers perceive a space by making it seem larger or more intimate.  It can be calming, highlight a design feature or establish a sense of place.

new tube for london design
New London underground tube design

Natural finishes and materials in a palette of colours including charcoal, warm grey and oxblood is inspired by contemporary London, its cultural and architectural landmarks, and iconic British transport design.

Eurostar’s new trains come complete with sleek lines, a smart new livery, chic designer interiors and a host of eco-friendly upgrades.  Designed by the Italian design house, Pininfarina,  seventeen of these new trains have been engineered specially for Eurostar by Siemens and as such are built to a bespoke specification.

eurostar three  eurostar one
New interior design of Eurostar’s trains

Merseyrail appointed Design Triangle Limited to develop a makeover for their vehicles.  The refresh focused on updating the interior design, improve the overall ambiance, complimenting the new exterior livery and making the experience a more visually appealing environment for passengers.

merseyside rail merseyside seating pattern
Merseyrail interior design

Public transport interior design is extremely important for a number of reasons; to enhance passenger comfort, safety and well-being, to positively represent the vehicle operator’s brand and to promote the development of its business and facilitate the activities of the staff who operate, maintain and clean the vehicles. Floor coverings are central to this notion, setting the interior design scheme’s tone – choosing a textile floor covering can create warmth and comfort whilst a resilient flooring gives a modern, light and airy feel. Choosing the right interior design scheme can enhance the power of your brand, enhancing passenger experiences and creating more memorable journeys.

Written by Karen Shatwell, Designer – Forbo Flooring Systems


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