Jenkins and Carl Harvey describe how a full-size mock up helped
designers to test and tweak every detail of the new intercity express
Intercity trains act as living spaces for their
passengers. With daily commuters spending around 200 and 500 hours of
time a year in the train, passenger spaces need to be comfortable and
allow all passengers to make the best use of their time.
requirement for comfort needs to be considered in light of the intensive
usage and the wear and tear that comes with high passenger numbers.
Accordingly, the design of the train is of critical importance,
particularly in the light of the long life spans of the trains which is
typically between 25 and 40 years.
As with most design projects,
the cost of design change increases, almost exponentially, as the train
design process progresses. Therefore, it is imperative that the design
is optimised and agreed as early in the design project as possible. This
process of agreement involves accommodating the views of a multitude of
From a passenger perspective, trains need to be
truly inclusive. The design has to consider the needs of both commuters
and recreational users, those travelling alone, wishing to use the
journey time to catch up on work, as well as families with small
children. Users may have a range of mobility requirements; they may be
in a wheelchair, have limited mobility or dexterity, or any number of
From a staff perspective, the train has to be
a safe, comfortable and pleasant place to work for both the train crew
and the drivers. There also needs to be the flexibility to operate the
train in a number of ways to account for changing working practices.
there is a wide range of guidance available to inform the design.
Regulations describing the requirements of persons with reduced mobility
provide measurable and testable design criteria, such as the acceptable
height and location of door controls. There is also a wide range of
stakeholder groups that are keen to participate in the design process.
These include passenger groups, train driver unions, representatives of
train operating companies and cyclists.
From a physical and
engineering perspective, a number of constraints also shape the design.
The train width, height and carriage length are dictated by the existing
rail infrastructure. Likewise, the route demand and track availability
also place a requirement on the number of seats within the train.
result of these constraints and considerations is that a careful
balance must be struck to ensure both the number of seats within the
train is maximised and the space meets the needs and wishes of the
diverse user population.
Accordingly, the role of human factors in
the project is clear and is split between the tasks of stakeholder
consultation, compliance assessment, and design optimisation.
Having just completed this role for the new Intercity Express Programme (IEP) train, we’d like to share a few insights.
wider project involves the design and manufacture of 122 new trains for
the UK’s East Coast and Great Western mainlines. The first trains are
planned to go into service in 2017, increasing capacity and reducing
The human factors involvement in the design process broadly follows this format:
capture, including target audience description, extraction of relevant
clauses from the train technical specification and the identification of
applicable regulations and standards.
- Assessment of CAD data
(2D and 3D) for compliance against the identified regulations and
standards and to assess compatibility with the target audience and the
- Evaluation of low-fidelity partial rigs and mock ups such as the cab control console.
- Evaluation of full-sized low-fidelity spatial mock up.
- Evaluation of full-sized high-fidelity mock up.
- Demonstration and documention of compliance.
the requirements for trains are relatively well prescribed, occasional
ambiguity still exists. Instances where requirements are neither
measurable nor testable provide the greatest challenge.
physical full-sized mock ups were found to be invaluable in supporting
the human factors tasks. While CAD drawings proved to be the most
effective way of demonstrating compliance against measurable
requirements, the mock up proved to be best suited to more subjective
The size and scale of the mock up was a clear
advantage in this. Multiple stakeholders could be engaged collectively
and potential issues could be discussed in situ. Stakeholders had the
opportunity to perform tasks in the train such as moving through the
train with a catering trolley or evacuating the driving position in
response to an emergency.
Alongside more informal assessments,
structured, task-based assessments were also conducted. A detailed
hierarchical task analysis model of the train driving task was
conducted. This formed the basis of a structured evaluation of the cab
control layout to ensure compatibility with the driving task. New
approaches were also developed in order to test the suitability of the
cab against instances of glare.
The mock up proved to be an
incredibly valuable part of the design process. It acted as a hub for
discussion and stakeholder engagement.
environment was immersive enough for the stakeholders to simulate
routine and emergency tasks allowing them to identify opportunities for
improvement and confirm acceptance of the layout.
By Dan Jenkins, Research Lead at DCA Design International, & Carl Harvey, Interiors and Mock up Manager at Hitachi Rail Europe
This article first appeared in Issue 533 of The Ergonomist, November 2014.