Asked on February 28 about the quality of seats that are being fitted to new trains, Rail Minister Jo Johnson told Iain Stewart (Conservative, Milton Keynes South): “We do not want passengers to feel that they need to bring in their own inflatable cushions, and my hon. Friend will take comfort in the fact that seats normally become more comfortable over time, through use.”
Seats fitted to the Thameslink Class 700s and Great Western Railway Class 800 fleets have made the national news in recent weeks, due to complaints about comfort. The topic has also been the subject of heated debate on social media.
Both the ‘700s’ and ‘800s’ were specified by Government as part of the Thameslink and Intercity Express Programme train orders. The DfT told RAIL on March 5 that it had nothing further to add to Johnson’s comments, and did not respond to questions about the planned interior for the Azuma fleet.
However, in background notes, the DfT said: “The guidelines for fire safety and crashworthiness are set by the Rail Safety and Standards Board. These are legally enforceable standards that train operators are obliged to comply with.
“It is the responsibility of those procuring trains to select the seats. The DfT works with train operating companies at the design review stage to agree that the interior design they have selected for new trains complies with relevant standards.”