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Elizabeth line trains ‘follow principles of our forefathers’

New carriages have traditional 'moquette' style seating material

02 March, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary

An Elizabeth line train 

MUCH excitement is brewing beneath the streets of the West End as the new Crossrail, or Elizabeth line as it’s now being called, has aesthetic touches added to it.

As the Extra has reported, the famous London Underground roundels are being placed on stations as we speak, albeit in the line’s colour (purple) instead of the traditional red, blue and white.

And engineers and craftsmen at the Bombardier train factory in Derby are getting the rolling stock ready.

Images seen by Diary show they have drawn on the rich history of design that has made our city’s transport network a flag-bearer around the world for branding.

Jon Hunter, the head of design for Transport for London, told Diary he was aware they were standing on the shoulders of design giants when they decided what the new Crossrail trains would look and feel like inside.

“It is the modern interpretation of design principles of our forefathers,” he told Diary, all too aware of such eminent names as Harry Beck, who gave us the tube map.

Jon says: “We do have a strong heritage, and a strong responsibility to have design excellence and to make sure it is fit for purpose.

“They need to be reliable, affordable, and make passengers want to travel.”

His team have worked on trains known as Class 345s and built at the Bombardier factory and explains how they used architectural tricks to make the carriages feel as roomy as possible.

“We have put in a dark floor and a light ceiling,” he says. “Trains are not large vehicles, and they travel through tunnels. So it is important to make them feel as large as possible. We have considered both form and function.”

This includes using metal handles and grab rails which, he explains, will wear well as there will be no paint to chip or flake off.

And the seats will be covered in what is a London Transport classic, the Underground’s renowned “moquette” style, which is a woven fabric like a carpet, explains Jon, and dates from the first trains in the 1880s. “London Transport has been famous for using it since its inception,” he adds. “It is a tangible thing about our brand and is part of the rich tapestry of London.”

Above all the new trains are also supposed to be very much unique to our city.

“We wanted to make sure this train felt like it was part of London and nowhere else. We have used what we consider to be the colours of the capital.” Georgia Morley is a curator at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and is the go-to for all you need to know about the look and feel of the vehicles that have kept the capital moving for more than a century.

She says: “What is moquette? Unobtrusive but effective, we take it for granted, yet it’s literally woven into the fabric of our daily lives. It is the durable, woollen seating material used on the Underground, buses and trams. The fabric is produced using a weaving technique known as jacquard and has traditionally been made of 85 per cent wool, 15 per cent nylon mix. The woollen pile has good thermal properties, making it cool in summer and warm in winter.”

Sounds like the perfect travelling companion.

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