Great British Rail - Seat Specification

Status
Not open for further replies.

matacaster

Member
Joined
19 Jan 2013
Messages
1,094
One of the features of train travel today is the often dreadfully uncomfortable seating. It appears clear that those who have specified the seating have no intention of sitting in it themselves or are possibly suffering from some serious deformity. As I write, Iam sitting in an extremely uncomfortable cross country effort - too upright, no lumbar support too narrow, too stiff. Is there any hope that Great British Rail can be pursuaded to specify comfortable seats in future?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
One of the features of train travel today is the often dreadfully uncomfortable seating. It appears clear that those who have specified the seating have no intention of sitting in it themselves or are possibly suffering from some serious deformity. As I write, Iam sitting in an extremely uncomfortable cross country effort - too upright, no lumbar support too narrow, too stiff. Is there any hope that Great British Rail can be pursuaded to specify comfortable seats in future?

I believe they've said they'll get shut of ironing boards - but some of us like them! :)
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,488
Location
Milton Keynes
One of the features of train travel today is the often dreadfully uncomfortable seating. It appears clear that those who have specified the seating have no intention of sitting in it themselves or are possibly suffering from some serious deformity. As I write, Iam sitting in an extremely uncomfortable cross country effort - too upright, no lumbar support too narrow, too stiff. Is there any hope that Great British Rail can be pursuaded to specify comfortable seats in future?
It depends what level of control they are given by the DfT, (or, more accurately, who will be paying for the seats).
 

Neptune

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2018
Messages
1,260
Location
West Yorkshire
Seats are a really subjective issue. What’s good for one person isn’t necessarily for another and nobody’s opinion of an individual seat is the right one (although some posters on here don’t get that point and like telling everyone that they’re right end of story and woe betide anyone who disagrees with them).

For me I want a comfortable seat base but I also want a fairly upright firm seat back which aids posture and prevents backache which soft laid back seats can cause (for instance I never recline a seat on a plane or in FC on a train). I actually find the SC Voyager seats are one of the comfiest around as they tick the boxes for what I want.

I hate the term ironing board seat. I’ve sat in plenty of them for decent lengths of time on Northern services and not suffered at all. I’ll probably be told I’m wrong but my opinion is that I know my own mind and body.
 

Failed Unit

Established Member
Joined
26 Jan 2009
Messages
8,150
Location
Central Belt
British rail had a lot of complaints about that as well. Look at the Pacer fleet.

The 150/0 had various types fitted, but I do recall the 150/1 getting complaints that they are not as comfortable as the 114s they replaced.

The 158 was not as comfortable as the loco hauled stock and the mk4 standard class (as built) had a few complaints about hard seats.

The seating on the regional seats actually improved with the "chapmans" following privatization.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I hate the term ironing board seat. I’ve sat in plenty of them for decent lengths of time on Northern services and not suffered at all. I’ll probably be told I’m wrong but my opinion is that I know my own mind and body.

The thing about ironing board seats is that they aren't all the same. There's the original one on 700s and some Electrostars which has a very hard and completely flat base. There's then the version with a thicker, contoured base that is substantially more comfortable, as used by Northern and ScotRail. Finally there is the entirely unrelated but similar looking (and on a par with the contoured-base one) version by another company as used on LNR 230s and Greater Anglia's 321 refurbs.

I suspect most people who hate them have only used the first type. People seem generally to speak highly of Northern's 195/331 interiors.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,488
Location
Milton Keynes
The thing about ironing board seats is that they aren't all the same. There's the original one on 700s and some Electrostars which has a very hard and completely flat base. There's then the version with a thicker, contoured base that is substantially more comfortable, as used by Northern and ScotRail. Finally there is the entirely unrelated but similar looking (and on a par with the contoured-base one) version by another company as used on LNR 230s and Greater Anglia's 321 refurbs.
Arguably, anything contoured isn't an ironing board seat. I personally find the 700s uncomfortable but not unbearable.
 

LOL The Irony

Established Member
Joined
29 Jul 2017
Messages
4,158
Location
Tokyo-3
I believe they've said they'll get shut of ironing boards - but some of us like them! :)
You're one of only a few people who like them. The only benefit they have is legroom but the EMR 158's have the best standard class seats I've ever sat in and they also have legroom.
There's then the version with a thicker, contoured base that is substantially more comfortable, as used by Northern and ScotRail.
A pig in make up. Your rear still gets sore after a while.
 

Neptune

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2018
Messages
1,260
Location
West Yorkshire
The thing about ironing board seats is that they aren't all the same.
Which to me proves a point. I’ve never been on a 700 so can’t comment but my experience is purely on the Northern units (I think 144012 was fitted with them and they were 100% better than the Richmond seats for both comfort and legroom).

I route reviewed Leeds - Blackpool and return on a 195 a few months back (just short of 5 hours) which is longer than most journeys people make sat on them with no issues whatsoever. My opinion is that the ones I’ve been on are fine.

I suspect some of the critiques have never even sat on one and yet they hear the phrase ‘ironing board seats’ and immediately attack them as bad.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
You're one of only a few people who like them. The only benefit they have is legroom but the EMR 158's have the best standard class seats I've ever sat in and they also have legroom.

That's the Grammer IC3000, the king of seating (but quite expensive, hence why it's not common).

It also has a thicker back than the ironing board which does mean legroom isn't quite as good. Northern's 158s show this off well - they have ironing boards in the original layout (near enough) and the legroom is cavernous.

Which to me proves a point. I’ve never been on a 700 so can’t comment but my experience is purely on the Northern units (I think 144012 was fitted with them and they were 100% better than the Richmond seats for both comfort and legroom).

A wooden plank would be better than Richmonds. They're fine brand new, but the bases very quickly collapse and then they become awful. Reasonable design, awful quality. The Chapman was definitely the better of the early-privatisation designs, and does live on in a good many (but not quite all) 168s and 170s with almost nobody at all complaining about them.

I suspect some of the critiques have never even sat on one and yet they hear the phrase ‘ironing board seats’ and immediately attack them as bad.

I think it is mostly that.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,488
Location
Milton Keynes
I suspect some of the critiques have never even sat on one and yet they hear the phrase ‘ironing board seats’ and immediately attack them as bad.
To be fair, the original ones as fitted to 700s were not comfortable, and if on a packed train in the morning commute for over an hour I can certainly understand why people were complaining. And these would have been the ones sat in by a lot of journalists at the time, commuting into London on the Thameslink Network.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
To be fair, the original ones as fitted to 700s were not comfortable, and if on a packed train in the morning commute for over an hour I can certainly understand why people were complaining.

I don't mind them but I do get why others don't like them. But the thicker base makes a huge difference. It's notable how Thameslink and Southern draw far more complaints than Northern or ScotRail, with the latter using the thicker contoured base which is very similar to other types of seat.

The back (other than its angle) contributes very little to overall comfort as you don't really put weight on it, unless it's badly shaped e.g. with lumbar support too low down or "wings" too low.
 

Failed Unit

Established Member
Joined
26 Jan 2009
Messages
8,150
Location
Central Belt
Which to me proves a point. I’ve never been on a 700 so can’t comment but my experience is purely on the Northern units (I think 144012 was fitted with them and they were 100% better than the Richmond seats for both comfort and legroom).

I route reviewed Leeds - Blackpool and return on a 195 a few months back (just short of 5 hours) which is longer than most journeys people make sat on them with no issues whatsoever. My opinion is that the ones I’ve been on are fine.

I suspect some of the critiques have never even sat on one and yet they hear the phrase ‘ironing board seats’ and immediately attack them as bad.
The subjective nature of this debate again, but I hated the Richmond's to me they are still most uncomfortable seat I have encountered to the extent I would aim for the set that didn't have those seats if it was 2 set service.

As for the "Ironing boards" - I have got used to them now, but my biggest issue with them on the 700s is they are too close to the edge on the window seats. If they had armrests AKA the 387s they would be much better. Maybe now in the mid-life refurbishment of the 700s they will fix that if traffic isn't recovering to pre-covid levels some extra comfort may help.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,488
Location
Milton Keynes
I don't mind them but I do get why others don't like them. But the thicker base makes a huge difference. It's notable how Thameslink and Southern draw far more complaints than Northern or ScotRail, with the latter using the thicker contoured base which is very similar to other types of seat.

The back (other than its angle) contributes very little to overall comfort as you don't really put weight on it, unless it's badly shaped e.g. with lumbar support too low down or "wings" too low.
A contoured bases makes a huge difference. But a flat back does make a difference to comfort, as very few people have a totally straight spine naturally. Of course, getting the curve right for the range of people that might use the train is impossible, but I do feel better could be done than the 700s.

However you've already alluded to the root of the problem:
That's the Grammer IC3000, the king of seating (but quite expensive, hence why it's not common).
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
As for the "Ironing boards" - I have got used to them now, but my biggest issue with them on the 700s is they are too close to the edge on the window seats. If they had armrests AKA the 387s they would be much better. Maybe now in the mid-life refurbishment of the 700s they will fix that if traffic isn't recovering to pre-covid levels some extra comfort may help.

It was always said that this was for circulation room. But now I have used both Northern 195s (which are narrower than Desiros) and 700s both full and standing, I have concluded that adding armrests or at least armrest-width spacers (which would narrow the aisle by about 20cm) would basically make no difference to circulation, not least because people "hang over" the too-narrow seats into the aisle anyway. It's the wide doors and standbacks that really make a difference.
 

LOL The Irony

Established Member
Joined
29 Jul 2017
Messages
4,158
Location
Tokyo-3
It also has a thicker back than the ironing board which does mean legroom isn't quite as good. Northern's 158s show this off well - they have ironing boards in the original layout (near enough) and the legroom is cavernous.
Slightly less legroom is a price I'm willing to pay for massively improved comfort.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
A contoured bases makes a huge difference. But a flat back does make a difference to comfort, as very few people have a totally straight spine naturally. Of course, getting the curve right for the range of people that might use the train is impossible, but I do feel better could be done than the 700s.

Worth noting that the ironing board back isn't completely flat, it does have curves at the edges. But I'd rather a flat back than one shaped to curve my back unnaturally.

Slightly less legroom is a price I'm willing to pay for massively improved comfort.

Having had DVT twice and being tall, it's not one I am willing to pay. I don't like Fainsa Sophias very much, but what I really value in 80x is that I fit in every Standard seat - on Pendolinos I fit only priority and table seats.

To me airlines have this one right - invest in the base as that's 99% of comfort, but have a thin back to increase legroom (or even if you don't, get more seats in). Some of the most recent designs, which are no doubt very expensive, are excellent, such as the new easyJet ones.

Indeed, as @zwk500 pointed out, it's skimping on cost that is the main issue (as I'd be more than happy if every train in the UK had Grammer's finest). If you want a quality, comfortable and innovative seat design, you have to cough up. Fainsa seem to trade mostly on "seating on the cheap", and the UK railway takes it a further step down by specifying regional seats on long distance trains for which they weren't designed. The Sophia is being used on the South Wales trams, and that's what they are designed for - basically journeys of under an hour.
 

LOL The Irony

Established Member
Joined
29 Jul 2017
Messages
4,158
Location
Tokyo-3
Having had DVT twice and being tall, it's not one I am willing to pay. I don't like Fainsa Sophias very much, but what I really value in 80x is that I fit in every Standard seat. I don't on units with thicker-backed seats.
I am also tall, the EMR 158's have what I would describe as good legroom. Yes it's not the ironing board 158's, but it's also not something to stick your nose up at.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I am also tall, the EMR 158's have what I would describe as good legroom. Yes it's not the ironing board 158's, but it's also not something to stick your nose up at.

My knees push against the seat back in EMR 158s but not in 80x. So I guess you've got slightly shorter legs than me :)

ScotRail used the same seats but in a lower density layout and those are nice, though.

But it's not just about spacing or even thickness. FISA LEANs have the "niche", but that design, as per the original Class 158 seat, forgets that most males (particularly those of heavier build) find it impossible to sit with their knees together and straight forward - that's easier for women, but women tend to be shorter so less in need of this feature. The Class 175/180 seat is the one that really gets this right - have the thick frame in the middle, and "niches" at the sides where mens' longer legs tend to naturally sit. It does surprise me that no other seat has this design - did they perhaps patent it, I wonder?
 

matacaster

Member
Joined
19 Jan 2013
Messages
1,094
Worth noting that the ironing board back isn't completely flat, it does have curves at the edges. But I'd rather a flat back than one shaped to curve my back unnaturally.



Having had DVT twice and being tall, it's not one I am willing to pay. I don't like Fainsa Sophias very much, but what I really value in 80x is that I fit in every Standard seat - on Pendolinos I fit only priority and table seats.

To me airlines have this one right - invest in the base as that's 99% of comfort, but have a thin back to increase legroom (or even if you don't, get more seats in). Some of the most recent designs, which are no doubt very expensive, are excellent, such as the new easyJet ones.

Indeed, as @zwk500 pointed out, it's skimping on cost that is the main issue (as I'd be more than happy if every train in the UK had Grammer's finest). If you want a quality, comfortable and innovative seat design, you have to cough up. Fainsa seem to trade mostly on "seating on the cheap", and the UK railway takes it a further step down by specifying regional seats on long distance trains for which they weren't designed. The Sophia is being used on the South Wales trams, and that's what they are designed for - basically journeys of under an hour.
Yes, many people who choose rail for say a long distance cross country journey could use their car. So it's not just a matter of basic comfort, the train should be vaguely comparable to car comfort if rail wishes to lure people out of their cars. Just tolerable is not really cutting it.
 

Neptune

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2018
Messages
1,260
Location
West Yorkshire
Yes, many people who choose rail for say a long distance cross country journey could use their car. So it's not just a matter of basic comfort, the train should be vaguely comparable to car comfort if rail wishes to lure people out of their cars. Just tolerable is not really cutting it.
I don’t think it’s train seating alone that means people would rather drive long distances rather than take the train.

Although nothing on the railway beats the comfort of my Ford Focus, even if it did I’d still use my car for long distance UK holidays. I can have the seat at the correct angle, height and legroom for me, adjust the lumber support and it’s heated. However other factors include the fact that it is more convenient than public transport (door to door) and we can take as much luggage as we like (look at how the railway is reducing luggage space for those extra couple of seats).

Even after an 8 hour journey I feel more refreshed than I ever have done travelling by train.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
70,555
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I don’t think it’s train seating alone that means people would rather drive long distances rather than take the train.

Although nothing on the railway beats the comfort of my Ford Focus, even if it did I’d still use my car for long distance UK holidays. I can have the seat at the correct angle, height and legroom for me, adjust the lumber support and it’s heated. However other factors include the fact that it is more convenient than public transport (door to door) and we can take as much luggage as we like (look at how the railway is reducing luggage space for those extra couple of seats).

Even after an 8 hour journey I feel more refreshed than I ever have done travelling by train.

One thing that's interesting about this is how it again divides the need of commuters and other short-distance travellers and long-distance occasional users (business or pleasure).

Commuters and other short distance walk-up passengers need capacity and as many seats as possible. They don't need to be hugely comfortable as they don't generally sit in them for very long. Standing room is also important.

Long-distance travellers need comfort and facilities e.g. toilets, catering, luggage space, more legroom, wider seats etc.

Like (random example) bikes in bus lanes (bikes move at a constant slow speed, buses move faster but stop a lot, the combination gives you slow speed stopping a lot i.e. the worst of both worlds), combining the two leads to poor compromises.

More arguments for segregation of long distance IC traffic and large commuter flows, perhaps?
 

Neptune

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2018
Messages
1,260
Location
West Yorkshire
Perhaps it is. The target of getting people out of cars and onto trains though should target short distance journeys as the long distance market is hard to target due to what I said in my previous post.
 

hwl

Established Member
Joined
5 Feb 2012
Messages
6,802
One of the features of train travel today is the often dreadfully uncomfortable seating. It appears clear that those who have specified the seating have no intention of sitting in it themselves or are possibly suffering from some serious deformity. As I write, Iam sitting in an extremely uncomfortable cross country effort - too upright, no lumbar support too narrow, too stiff. Is there any hope that Great British Rail can be pursuaded to specify comfortable seats in future?
The W-S report is effectively implementing the recommendations from the RSSB seating report in 2019
 

Horizon22

Established Member
Associate Staff
Jobs & Careers
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
3,116
Location
London
While the seats divide opinion - I personally have no strong feelings either way on back support - then legroom of an 80x compared to a Voyager or even some HSTs is a huge improvement. It feels a lot less cramped. If the seats can be reupholstered / changed whilst still feeling more spacious I'm all for it.
 

hwl

Established Member
Joined
5 Feb 2012
Messages
6,802
While the seats divide opinion - I personally have no strong feelings either way on back support - then legroom of an 80x compared to a Voyager or even some HSTs is a huge improvement. It feels a lot less cramped. If the seats can be reupholstered / changed whilst still feeling more spacious I'm all for it.
Agreed.
 

Mikey C

Established Member
Joined
11 Feb 2013
Messages
4,789
British rail had a lot of complaints about that as well. Look at the Pacer fleet.

The 150/0 had various types fitted, but I do recall the 150/1 getting complaints that they are not as comfortable as the 114s they replaced.

The 158 was not as comfortable as the loco hauled stock and the mk4 standard class (as built) had a few complaints about hard seats.

The seating on the regional seats actually improved with the "chapmans" following privatization.
BR specified awful low backed seats for the PEPs and the 455s too
 

Nammer

Member
Joined
1 May 2016
Messages
91
I have no real problems with any railway seat. I find them all reasonably comfortable enough for the rail journeys I’ve undertaken. The only issues I have is with the armrests on the Southern 377 units that I find very uncomfortable and the seats nearest the window on the SWR 450s where you are pressed against the side of the train and nowhere to put your foot as the heaters get in the way!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top