Never mind the sex, give us more leg room

Letters to the Editor should be sent to Design Week, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX. Fax: 0171-734 1770. e-mail

In your account of the Gatwick Express rebranding (DW 28 March), you report that the new trains will be “sexy with a non-standard front end”.

What sense of priorities is this? The front end of a train should provide a safe and comfortable working environment for the driver and other railway staff, and a means of identification to passengers standing on station platforms, bearing in mind that the train is likely to be viewed not only in daylight, but also at night.

The existing trains of 1950s origin have front ends which perform these tasks very well, as do the similar trains of more recent construction such as the class 158 diesel units. On the other hand, the fashionably bulbous front ends to be found on trains such as the Networker, have proved costly and troublesome in a variety of respects.

It really is time that those responsible for the design of railway trains grew up. There is no need to lavish undue attention or expenditure on front end design because 95 per cent of customers rarely give it a glance.

What the customers expect of new trains, and almost never get, is ample space for legs and elbows, an unobstructed view out of the train from every seat and an effective heating and ventilation system.

If Gatwick Express wants to maintain its market share on the route, attention should be given not to the “sexiness” of the trains, but to the provision of an efficient baggage handling system so that passengers no longer have to lug their luggage between the train and the airline check-in/check-out points.

Henry Law

Brighton BN1 4AR

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