Role of passengers in new train designs praised

Merseyrail 777003 Kirkdale 280120

THE role of passengers in designing new Merseyrail trains has been hailed as a trailblazing move for the UK rail industry.

A report which has been published details how Transport Focus asked local people what they would like to see on new trains, in a bid to ensure the fleet was built with the needs of the community in mind.

A diverse group of 40 passengers from across the City Region, supported by Merseytravel, operator Merseyrail and train manufacturer Stadler, took part in a series of focus groups to consider a wide variety of design options and features for the new trains.

Recruited to be the ‘passenger voice’ the group provided feedback on more than 20 design aspects that made it into production, from the sliding step technology – which provides level access for all customers – to the train’s livery and layout of the seats.

The 18-month research project was conducted both online and face-to face with interactive engagement sessions on board two life-size mock ups of a carriage.

The second full size mock up showcased many aspects of this work and went on public display at venues across the City Region, which was visited by over 10,000 people.

Cllr Liam Robinson, Transport Portfolio Holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: This publicly owned fleet has a wide range of state-of-the-art, customer focussed facilities and features, including pioneering sliding step technology and on board wi-fi, so passengers’ experience will be safe, inclusive, comfortable and smart.
“We asked Transport Focus to work with us on this research to seize the opportunity to directly involve our passengers and the results speak for themselves.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank our 40 passengers as their valuable insight directly influenced our customer focussed approach which is something we were committed to right from the start of this process.
“The fleet has been designed for passengers by passengers and we are immensely proud of this.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “There is no better way of getting a service that works for passengers than to ask them what they want.
Merseyrail passengers can take pride in knowing that these trains were created by and for them. More operators should look to include passengers throughout the design process of new trains.”

Greg Suligowski, Head of Customer and Stakeholder Experience at Merseyrail, added:  “It was a pleasure to work with our passengers on the design of the train that will serve the needs of the people of the Liverpool City Region for years to come.
“Working with our partners at the Liverpool City Region, Transport Focus and Stadler we believe this innovative approach was incredibly useful in understanding what features our passengers wanted on board the new trains. From seating, to the design of the interior, to the livery of the train itself, the end product is a train that really reflects the needs and preferences of Merseyrail passengers”.