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Sydney's Intercity Trains Are Losing One of Their Best Features: Flip Seats

The government authority is going against customer preference and decking out its new fleet of intercity trains with fixed seating.
By Libby Curran
March 19, 2018
By Libby Curran
March 19, 2018

The NSW Government might be forking out the big bucks for Sydney's rail transport overhaul, but the new fleet of trains it's introducing will be missing one of its best elements: flip seats.

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Transport for NSW has opted to ditch the seats — which can be reversed to face either forwards or backwards, to awkwardly knock knees with strangers or look at the back of their heads — in the new intercity trains, even though the body's own research shows that they're the kind preferred by most of the city's commuters. Instead, the 512 double-decker carriages that are being bought for a cool $2.3 billion will feature only fixed seating, apparently due to safety reasons and heftier costs.

An internal document for Transport Minister Andrew Constance states that even though flip seats scored a big thumbs up from the passengers, they're heavier, require more maintenance and could pose a greater fire risk due to the materials used. Many of the manufacturers originally bidding for the trains also claimed that reversible seating would push up the building cost of each carriage and reduce seating capacity overall.

And while the transport agency has revealed it's listened to customer feedback elsewhere, incorporating wider seats and armrests, and device charging outlets on the new trains, many are slamming the seat choice, which could see some passengers forced to sit backwards for train rides of up to three hours.

Services for the first of these new trains on the Central Coast and Newcastle lines will kick off late 2019, with the view to place them on the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Wollongong and South Coast lines in the following years. Metropolitan trains will continue to have flip seats, but this decision certainly seems like they will be phased out in time.

Via The Sydney Morning Herald. Image: Wykymania via Wikimedia Commons

Published on March 19, 2018 by Libby Curran

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