Wider seats for HS2 pas­sen­gers as they get fat­ter

Daily Express - - DAY& NIGHT - By John Ing­ham Trans­port Edi­tor

TRAINS for the new £56bil­lion High Speed 2 rail network are to have bigger seats be­cause pas­sen­gers are get­ting fat­ter.

The seats will also have more legroom be­cause the na­tion is get­ting taller.

And there will be no steps be­tween train and plat­form to help the el­derly and dis­abled get on board.

De­tails emerged yes­ter­day af­ter a pre­sen­ta­tion by HS2’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of rail­way op­er­a­tions Chris Rayner.

He told rail in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives: “We’re get­ting bigger. HS2 trains will need to of­fer space for taller peo­ple and al­low for much higher in­stances of obe­sity among pas­sen­gers.”

The mes­sage was de­liv­ered to firms com­pet­ing for the £2.75bil­lion con­tract to build the first 60 trains for the project.

Pas­sen­gers al­ready of­ten com­plain that seats are too small and bear no re­la­tion­ship to the size of mod­ern trav­ellers.

The UK has the high­est obe­sity lev­els in west­ern Europe, lead­ing to claims that it has be­come the “fat man of Europe”.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion one in four Bri­tish adults is obese.

And 61.7 per of adults are ei­ther over­weight or obese, ac­cord­ing to the Health And So­cial Care In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre. Bri­tish obe­sity lev­els are tre­ble the rate in 1980 when only six per cent of men and eight per cent of women were obese.

And it is ex­pected to get worse. Some es­ti­mates pre­dict that more than half the pop­u­la­tion could be obese by 2050.

Bri­tons are also get­ting taller. A study last year said the av­er­age man is nearly 5ft 10in tall and the av­er­age woman is 5ft 5in tall – mak­ing them both about 4bin taller than in 1914.

Mean­while the pop­u­la­tion is liv­ing longer – and stay­ing active longer.

The line is set to link Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham, and then move on to Manch­ester and Leeds, with the first trains due to run within nine years. An HS2 spokesman said: “It is com­mon­sense. These trains are com­ing into ser­vice in 2026 with a life span of 30 years and pos­si­bly longer.

“We are say­ing to the in­dus­try that when it is de­sign­ing these trains they have to take into ac­count the time they will be in ser­vice and the chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics of the UK.

“We also have an age­ing pop­u­la­tion so we are look­ing to pro­vide step-free ac­cess to trains as stan­dard with a gap of about an inch.

“This would let you roll straight on with lug­gage, a pram or a wheel­chair.

“It is re­ally about try­ing de­sign around the pas­sen­ger.”

HS2, which was a flag­ship project for for­mer prime min­is­ter David Cameron, re­mains highly con­tro­ver­sial, partly be­cause it cuts through a swathe of Tory con­stituen­cies.

It has trig­gered a and sus­tained cam­paign.

But spec­u­la­tion that Theresa May could scrap the scheme was quashed by her as­ser­tion over the week­end that the Gov­ern­ment re­mains “ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted” to com­plet­ing it.

The move to bigger seats con­trasts with South West Trains, which six years ago was crit­i­cised for mak­ing seats just 17in wide – which were too nar­row for larger pas­sen­gers. to well-or­gan­ised op­po­si­tion

HS2 trains will be more spa­cious

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