London to Scotland train operator GNER has brought James Park Associates and Design Acumen on-board to transform the interiors of its 225-strong fleet, as the company moves to consolidate its position on the east coast franchise.
Codenamed project Mallard, the £30m ‘compulsory midlife’ refit was agreed with the Strategic Rail Authority under a two-year franchise extension to April 2005.
JPA and Design Acumen, appointed following a creative pitch, are expected to comprehensively revamp interiors, including seating for both standard and first class, toilets, kitchens, carpets and internal doors.
A decision on the colour palette and replacing the muted greys and purples introduced when the line was run by British Rail, is not expected for some time as GNER is yet to finalise budget details for the redesign.
‘The trains will reflect the corporate identity and philosophy of GNER. Although no final decision has been made, the palette will remain subtle. We are aiming to give rolling stock a contemporary feel,’ says GNER head of design Neal Stone.
A key feature of the brief is the need to increase legroom in economy class seating and bring the rolling stock in-line with current legislation on disabled access and on-board facilities, says JPA managing director James Park.
According to Park the challenge will be to create ‘a pleasing environment in a confined tube’.
Agreement has yet to be reached on apportioning design work, although JPA is expected to command 60 per cent of the project.
The revamped fleet, which GNER claims will match the standard of ‘brand new trains’, enters passenger service from spring 2003.