Virgin seeks designers for train interiors

The beleaguered train operator Virgin Rail is to break with the past in its approach to interior train design for its Cross Country and West Coast Main Lines.

The train company, which has just awarded its second big train-building contract to Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, is planning to create more customer-friendly interior designs. Most of the new rolling stock will be the tilting variety.

“Many train designs are more concerned with engineering. We want to concentrate on the customer end, to make it nicer for the customers,” says Virgin Rail design director Ashley Stockwell.

Virgin Rail awarded the Cross Country Line contract to Bombardier just three weeks after announcing a 1bn order for high-speed tilting trains on its West Coast Main Line. This went to a GEC Alsthom-led consortium which includes Jones Garrard Transport (DW 20 February).

“In the past we have tended to go with one interior designer, but this time we are likely to be appointing more. We may well appoint a graphics, an interior and a product design specialist,” adds Stockwell.

Stockwell is considering leisure and retail consultancies as well as established train specialists. He is open to approaches from other consultancies interested in either contract.

“It would make sense to use the same consultancies for both projects,” says Stockwell.

The Jones Garrard design used by GEC Alsthom in its bid for Virgin Rail’s West Coast Main Line trains, and widely reported to be the approved design, will not necessary be used, he adds.

The consortium’s proposed trains are environmentally friendly and can reach speeds of up to 162mph. The interiors will offer a choice of moods and facilities (DW 28 November 1997).

Stockwell hopes to make the appointments in the next two to three weeks after a credentials, and possibly a paid, pitch.

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