Railfuture representatives Keith Dyall and Norman Bradbury visited the Hitachi IEP mockup, which comprises the cab, part of a first class vehicle with universal toilet and part of a second class vehicle with standard toilet, at DCA Design, Warwick.
The objective of the display was to show examples of design features that are intended to be incorporated in the finished train. The driving cab displayed all controls with adjustable driving seat complete with compressor to power the lifting mechanism - one could have been sitting in the real thing. On entering the carriage section one gained the impression of a bright interior with neutral but pleasing colour scheme (which will no doubt change to reflect individual TOC requirements).
Both the First and Standard class seats were very firm which now seems to be a fairly common feature. Standard class seats are arranged two plus two mostly in airline style, which is regrettable given that surveys have shown a strong passenger preference for bay seating and tables. We would urge provision of at least the same ratio of bay to airline style seating as in the BR Mk4 coach.
Two seats at the end of the standard class saloon faced the end wall; we felt they should be turned to face into the saloon area. The bay seats in standard class did not line up with the windows satisfactorily - one pair of seats was aligned with the wall (deadlights) instead. We feel that seat to window alignment is important - all seats in a long distance inter city train should provide a view through a window.
Sliding doors are fitted instead of plug doors, so the door pockets occupy valuable space at the saloon ends and windows are not fitted in this area. On entering the saloon, the lack of windows at the ends is immediately noticeable and the mock up displayed a luggage rack to one side of the central aisle with two seats to the other side. Due to the cramped space these two seats had no central arm rest. It was universally agreed by the visitors that the area adjacent to the door pockets was therefore most unsuitable for seating and should be confined to accommodation for luggage, cycle racks, or a buffet counter (for which there is no provision in standard class) only. The decision on this issue will be the responsibility of the train operators.
The reservation system, toilets and cycle storage are excellent. With the exception of the issues mentioned above, this promises to be an excellent train with superior performance to the existing East Coast IC225 and HST trains when on electrified routes.
Download the full Report on Railfuture Visit to the Hitachi IEP Mock-up at DCA Design, wth photographs.