Wider seats for HS2 passengers as they get fatter
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