The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) have encouraged greater research into train seat design, with the aim of greater safety and comfort for passengers.
The company’s aim is to drive the continuous improvement of health and safety in every aspect of the railway industry’s work and the RSSB want the research to result in a better understanding of the factors that bring comfort to passengers.
By using this sophisticated “human factors” approach, it is hoped that seat designing companies look at aspects such as the shape of a seat, material choice, lumbar spine support, legroom and cushioning.
Implementing this in seat design will not only improve comfort of passengers, but also their overall experience and the signs from industry stakeholders are positive; operating companies, rolling stock owning companies, suppliers, seat design manufacturers and train operating companies have all thrown their weight behind commitment to research and want to move this forward.
It was assumed that this research has been commissioned because of negative reports about the seating on new trains for Govia Thameslink Railway, but the rail industry said that seat comfort is an issue that has been previously recognised as something that could be improved by research.
Recent surveys revealed 72% of passengers were felt level of comfort in seating was rated at “good” or “satisfied” levels. However, the wider railway industry wants the percentage score to be higher than it is.
The plan is to implement seat comfort specifications for manufacturers that involve minimum requirements of comfort.
Jordan Smith is the RSSB’s Senior Human Factors Specialist. He said: “There simply aren’t any reliable industry-approved measures to quantify passenger train seat comfort – they don’t exist.
“The rail industry wants us to challenge that, by exploring the potential of a new specification which takes full account of the complexity of the human factors involved, and allows owners, suppliers and government procurement teams to efficiently specify and deliver seating in line with passenger comfort.”