Unpopular Fixed Seating for New Intercity Trains

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The troubled project to introduce new $2.3 billion intercity trains to Sydney’s rail network has recently  been further criticised due to the decision to install fixed rather than reversible seating.

The two-by-two fixed seats on the new train will mean that half of all passenger will travel backwards. It is understood that at each end and in the middle of the carriage, four seats will be placed together in a group, whilst all other seats would be in fixed twos, half forwards and half backwards.

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This decision was made  despite government documents showing an overwhelming preference for reversible seating over fixed seating. There is a perception that this change is a backwards step.

The reason for this decisions is that there is no proven design solution for reversible seating that meets safety requirements. That lack of design would place the timeline for the delivery of the new trains “at risk”.

The transport agency said the new intercity trains had been designed with passenger comfort in mind. “We’ve asked customers what they value and incorporated much of this feedback into the design, including two-by-two seating with wider seats, arm rests and wider aisles, as well as amenities like tray tables and charging outlets for mobile devices,” a spokesman said.

 Labor’s transport spokeswoman, Jodi McKay, said travelling backwards was “just not an option” for passengers who suffered motion sickness. “The journey for some intercity passengers can be up to three hours – that’s a long time to sit backwards or be forced to stand,’

The first of the new trains will begin services late next year to the Central Coast and Newcastle. The government expects the new trains to begin running on the Blue Mountains Line to Mount Victoria in mid-2020, followed by Lithgow about four months later. After that, the trains will start carrying passengers on the South Coast Line to Wollongong and Kiama.

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