The record £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme began with the replacement of one of Britain’s most iconic trains, the Intercity 125.
With an initial order of 122 train sets (866 carriages) to enter service in 2017, and to be in operation for a minimum of 27 years, travellers will be spending a lot of time inside Hitachi’s new flagship train.
Clearly the mandate was to ensure that the interior would be as comfortable and user-centred as possible whilst remaining robust and practical within its challenging dimensions.
The process was initiated by a multi-disciplined team with an extensive interaction and feedback system between designers, human factors engineers, passengers and operatives. This was to assess, expose and confirm spatial, interaction and usability design decisions and was achieved with the creation of an adaptable full scale test mock-up.
As senior designer on the award winning project, a significant part of my process was spent on usability and the spatial layout, consulting and problem solving with the human factors team. In parallel I liaised with the project leader to produce design solutions that conformed with relevant standards to achieve compliance. The compact and universal toilets were particularly challenging and by consequence involved a substantial investment of the overall design.
Sketch exploration began after preliminary ergonomic and technical constraints were established. However the ideation process was executed in tandem with the full scale ergonomic rig build, allowing a feedback loop to refine the design concept.
During the sketch phase visual identity and CMF application were also explored.
Usability design not only considered the direct user (the passenger) but also the operating staff. Maintaining simple and integrated surfaces was essential for quick and easy cleaning, and practical utility access was considered for rapid servicing.
The greater challenges lay in the compact dimensions (2.7m width) and meeting compliance to accessibility standards whilst maintaining simple and intuitive interaction.
Intercity Express Interior
The Class 800 interior was applauded by both stakeholders and the public.
During the first public presentation the design also met with royal approval!