How can colour impact on passenger experience?

The psychology of colour has been a well-researched topic in the design community for many years now. Different shades and hues spark different feelings in people but how can this be applied to the passenger experience? Colour helps to create a certain mood or tell a story and even affects taste or smell. It is colour that really connects the surrounding environment with the interior space. There are two overarching types of passengers, the business traveler and the pleasure traveler so how can interior design in transport increase customer satisfaction?

The Business Traveler
Whether it be by plane or by train, the commuter typically uses their journey as an opportunity to be productive and catch up on emails or get on with some work. Transport operators can enhance this productivity by using certain colours to create an effective mobile working environment.

Yellow is the easiest colour for the eye to see and is associated with optimism and is said to encourage innovation.
yellow moodboard

Known to be the top favourite colour in the world, blue is a calming colour and increases focus and productivity.
blue mood board.jpg

This shade of purple is associated with power and pride. Brighter hues increase creativity and lift the mood.
purple mood board bright

Orange is one of the more vibrant colours on the spectrum and is typically associated with excitement. Orange can bring people high energy and stimulate activity.
orange mood board.jpg

The Pleasure Traveler
When people are traveling for pleasure, they seek out a more relaxing and enjoyable journey. The pleasure traveler typically uses their journey to read a book, watch a film, listen to music or even enjoy a meal. Transport operators can maximise customers’ rest and relaxation with a range of more calming hues.

Green is the most seen colour in the world due to its symbolization of nature. It is said to soothe the mind and encourage mental relaxation.

green mood board.jpg

Although blue is colour that encourages focus and productivity, it is also a colour associated with tranquility and serenity. This hue is a symbol of rest and reduces tension.
pale blue mood board.jpg

Pale shades of violet are known to bring inner balance and peace, encouraging ultimate relaxation.
pale purple mood board

Grey has been dubbed a ‘boring’ colour but paler shades can actually create a soothing and cooling presence.
grey mood board

Incorporating colour science into transport interior design, whether it be trains or buses, can enhance passenger well-being and therefore greatly increase customer satisfaction with design and colour determining the overall mood and having a positive impact on passenger experience.


  1. Who would have thought that colour could have such a huge impact on the experience of a rail passenger. I’m sure we should be thinking about this more when we develop new ranges and materials. Thanks for the interesting incite.


  2. NedTrain and Dutch Railways (NS) actively use colour theory when selecting the colour of Forbo product. In this way we actively use colour theory and other lighting theories to create the best possible environment for our customers.


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