The aim of the FLEXICOACH project was to design a rail vehicle interior system that enables passengers to make the best possible use of travel time by satisfying their needs, while at the same time being as economical as possible in production through largely standardised solutions.

Client: bmvit, ways2go, 4th call for tenders

Duration: June 2012 to May 2013 (12 months)

Project partners: Vienna University of Technology, Railway Research Department; University of Applied Sciences St.Pölten GesmbH; Joanneum University of Applied Sciences Graz GesmbH; Siemens AG Austria; ÖBB Personenverkehr AG

LOI partners: RTCA Rail Technology Cluster Austria; VCÖ Verkehrsclub Österreich; Westbahn GesmbH; Raab-Ödenburg-Ebenfurter Eisenbahn AG; CAT (City Airport Train); Salzburg AG; Wiener Lokalbahnen AG; Graz Linien Holding; SBB Schweizerische Bundesbahnen; NSB  Norwegian Railway; MÁV-START Bahnpersonenverkehrs AG; KVB Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe; KTH Stockholm (Royal Institute of Technology); German Aerospace Center; TU Delft; Sapienza – University of Rome; Spanish Railway Foundation; Comillas – University of Madrid; Railway Administration Executive Agency; Newrail – Newcastle University; University of Belgrade, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Project description: In the case of public transport vehicles, in particular railway vehicles, an attempt is generally made to increase efficiency by maximising the number of seats. However, practical studies show that as a rule only up to 85% of the places can actually be occupied by such space concepts and at the same time customer comfort is significantly reduced. Rail vehicles are therefore mainly designed in such a way that the focus is not on the customer’s needs, but rather on transporting as many people as possible. Compared to other modes of transport, public transport, especially rail, has the great advantage that travel time can be used efficiently (for work, recreation etc.) and thus the time not usable by passengers is considerably less. However, today’s vehicle concepts only offer the necessary prerequisites for an efficient use of time to a limited extent.

The FLEXICOACH project approached the question of how rail vehicles should be equipped in order to best exploit this advantage. Based on precise analyses of passenger behaviour and the basic needs of passengers, vehicle concepts consisting of various sub-concepts were designed. The approach was deliberately interdisciplinary. Experts from the fields of rail vehicles, automotive and aircraft industry worked together with experts from the fields of media, lighting and sound technology, sociology, health sciences etc. The goal was to develop standardised components that can be used for new construction vehicles as well as for refurbishment of existing vehicles and that enable the best possible individualisation of the vehicle space and thus an efficient use of time. Standardisation should lead to a reduction in costs on the one hand and on the other hand enable short-term and medium-term adaptability to changing conditions.

The aim was to develop as uniform components as possible for vehicles, which using various technical elements, lead to the best possible individualisation of the respective passenger areas. For example, with the targeted use of acoustic elements and lighting technology, an individual space can also be created in a large capacity coach, which is best suited for efficient work but can also be redesigned for recreational purposes. As many different needs as possible should be satisfied in a space by simple adaptations. The result of FLEXICOACH as an exploratory project was to create the basis for an efficient implementation project in which a prototype can be built and extensively tested in passenger service. The construction of a prototype and intensive tests are indispensable in order to design efficient vehicle concepts for both passengers and operators.

Contact: DI Dr. Bernhard Rüger