Rail bosses have blamed safety standards and vandal resistant designs for a lack of comfort on a new £1.6bn fleet of trains, whose seats have been described by passengers as like ‘ironing boards’.
In September Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) completed the replacement of its entire rolling stock with new Class 700 trains built by Siemens.
While the trains have been designed to allow more space for standing, passengers have complained that the new seat design is very uncomfortable, with one complaining that the trains ‘have ironing boards for seats’.
A spokesperson for GTR said: ‘The Class 700 trains are essential to the transformation we are making to meet passengers' needs for dramatically greater capacity and frequency to and through central London.
The interior of a Thameslink Class 700
‘Various seat designs were tested with passengers. The chosen design is the one that met all the safety and capacity requirements and offered the best comfort. Padding in the seats is constrained by the latest fire standards, which are very strict on modern trains, and is also vandal resistant; this does give it a firmer feel. The shape and size of the seats had to meet today's extremely strict crash-worthiness standards.’
In January, the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said that a total of 7,033 ‘state-of-the-art’ carriages have been committed for completed delivery between 2016 and 2021.