Train seating area folds back to take bikes as needed
While it's always important to accommodate bicycle commuters, bike parking spots on trains can't seat non-cyclists when not in use. An experimental setup currently being trialled in Switzerland, however, may soon change that.
The transformable seating area is presently being tested on a Stadler FLIRT (Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train) passenger car operated by Switzerland's Schweizerische Südostbahn (SOB) rail line.
At times or on days when there are typically few bicycle commuters taking the train, the four seats are configured just like those on the rest of the train, complete with headrests and contoured backrests. This allows them to be used by passengers who would otherwise have to stand if the rest of the car's seats were taken.
At other times, when cyclists are anticipated, rail line employees can quickly and easily fold all four seats so they sit flat against the wall. Doing so reveals a bicycle symbol on the floor, letting everyone know the area's intended purpose. A similar seating area across the aisle provides storage space for luggage when its seats are folded.
Importantly, while the seats themselves are special, they can be mounted on a FLIRT car's existing attachment points. This means that no modifications have to be made to trains using the system, keeping costs down and making implementation easy.
The setup is part of the federally funded one-year Innovative Flächenbewirtschaftung im Zug (Innovative Space Management on Trains) pilot project, which started last month and runs until this December.
You can see how the seating area gets reconfigured, in the animation below.