We’re all different. We have different needs and different expectations. And yet, when it comes to travel in planes and trains, we all have to fit within the rigid inflexibilities of standardised seats and layouts.
At Seymourpowell, we think this is both a problem and an opportunity (invariably, these two often go hand in hand!) - an opportunity in the
sense that providing more flexibility for passengers, and with that a better service could provide train companies with a clearly differentiated offer.
‘Flex’ is our solution - it’s an idea which pivots around a more flexible First Class carriage, which, with all seats pre-booked, allows train operators to configure the seating to better suit its passengers.
So, for example, business and premium travellers can have more privacy during the rush hour, and larger groups enjoy more sociable seating at the weekend.
Instead of the usual static rows, our pivoting seats click into different positions. Rotate two or more seats to face each other, and you create a cocoon or bay for a couple or group. Turn a single seat the other way and you have a discreet space to read or work.
Travellers book the type of seating they want in advance, and carriage staff can configure the seating for each specific journey — or passengers can arrange the seats themselves.
In August 2014 Flex was one of ten ideas, shortlisted from forty-eight, in Future Railway’s competition to improve rolling stock on the UK rail network.
The competition, in partnership with the Department for Transport and the Royal Institute of British Architects, awarded £75,000 to each of the shortlisted teams to help them develop their ideas for the next stage. In 2015 the judges will choose five finalists, who’ll receive up to £750,000 each.