42 TechnologyCase StudiesThe Adaptable Carriage

The Adaptable Carriage

An innovative new system for stowing seats to create flexible spaces within passenger train carriages is now available for train operating companies to trial.

Adaptable Carriage_seats stowed

The unique approach has been developed as part of a two year RSSB-funded programme in collaboration with the UK rail sector and offers significant commercial, environmental and passenger benefits. Unveiled at the rail industry’s Railtex 2017 exhibition, we were even covered by the BBC’s local news bulletin.

The ‘Adaptable Carriage’ system is a complete seating system that can be retrofitted into existing carriages or integrated into new build designs to enable train operating companies to flexibly configure specific carriages to carry passengers, bicycles, large items of luggage, or even high-value cargo that would otherwise go by road.

When deployed, the new technology will offer a novel but very practical way of getting more high-value cargo onto the rail network, generating additional revenues for train operators that could be invested in improved facilities and services for passengers or offset against ticket price increases. Other benefits could include easing road congestion, cutting emissions and allowing online retailers to offer later order cut-off times, faster deliveries and new services.  Furthermore, the system could provide train builders a means of offering improved operational flexibility of their vehicles, giving them a unique competitive advantage when bidding for new build contracts.

Compatible with both steel-frame and modern aluminium train carriage designs, using cantilevered seats, the sliding seat system has been designed to maximise passenger comfort to add minimal extra weight compared with existing industry-standard seats.

Seats, tables and draught screens are connected together and can be moved along the length of the carriage via a system that also acts to cover the working mechanism in passenger configuration.  The control system ensures that all seats are safely secured in both the passenger and cargo-carrying configurations, and it can be readily integrated with the carriage control system to automate door locking ensuring complete passenger safety.

The reconfiguration process is fully automated, takes under three minutes to complete and can compress 20 rows of seats to create cargo space equivalent in capacity to an articulated lorry.

Chris Lawrence, Technical Director, RSSB said: “Adaptable Carriage is an example of what can be achieved when the UK rail industry partners with a cross-sector innovation consultancy to deliver solutions to specific rail challenges.”

42 Technology is already talking to a number of interested parties to support initial trials of Adaptable Carriage and to enable further commercial development of the technology.