Eurostar is understood to be on the brink of appointing a consultancy to redesign its train interiors, following a six-month tender process.
Seymour Powell is believed to have made the final shortlist, along with one or two other groups. The original longlist featured around 30 individual consultancies and design consortiums, according to Prospect Design founder Richard Eisermann.
Seymour Powell declined to comment.
Prospect Design, Tangerine and Design Connect together made a joint bid for the contract, and were selected for at least one of the shortlists, before being knocked out of the competition.
Priestman Goode also competed in the tender, which is understood to be have been open to British and European design groups.
A unnamed source from one design group which pitched for the contract describes the tender process as ‘tortuous’, while Eisermann calls it ‘abominable’.
The brief involves redesigning Eurostar’s 27 trains, which have been running services though the Channel Tunnel since 1994. The designs will be rolled out over a sixyear period.
Michael Rodber, who designed Eurostar’s distinctive nose cone, says that his consultancy, Jones Garrard Move, abandoned its decision to enter the tender due to the ‘huge amount of free creative work’ that Eurostar asked for in the pitch brief.
‘Eurostar wanted a lot of work done for free over a sixmonth period of time,’ says Rodber. ‘They would never have asked an engineering company to come up with such extensive plans at the tender stage.’
He continues, ‘I was not comfortable doing speculative work at the level that they were inferring, and I know of one other group that declined to bid for the same reason.’
The train company is revamping its look in preparation for 2010, when other rail operators will be allowed to compete by running high-speed rail services through the Channel Tunnel. Air France announced its intention to run trains along the line last September.
Eurostar underwent a £35m revamp in 2004 (pictured), by French designer Philippe Starck.
DESIGNER TRACK RECORD
- Tilney Shane designed the original Eurostar buffet cars
- French industrial designer Roger Tallon designed the original train interiors
- Philippe Starck oversaw a £35m revamp of train interiors in 2004