Awful front-end designs on modern multiple units

HAVING seen your pictures of the new Bombardier and CAF trains for the new West Midlands franchise, I am bound to say that the front ends look dreadful, partly because of the continuing presence of a vestibule connection.

What is the real need for this carbuncle, which doesn’t seem to feature in such prominence elsewhere in the world, perhaps with the exception of metro systems?

With its big rubber diaphragms, DSB ET set No. 4551 sits at Copenhagen Central on April 10, 2004. The sets are used for services across the Øresund Link, with the rubber diaphragms forming a flush seal when sets are joined. The driver’s controls are mounted on the hinged door, which folds to the side to permit access from one set to another. Similar units are used in Spain and Israel. CHRIS MILNER

The CAF example looks particularly horrible, with the blanking panel emphasised by being yellow. Incidentally, I thought this requirement was now obsolete.

In view of another impending aesthetic disaster, may I suggest the reconstitution of the long-disbanded BR Design Panel to control the worst excesses of individual designers and their clients – the current and future franchise holders.

Nowhere else in Europe is there such a collection of ugly front ends and brash, tasteless liveries.

Given our long history of engineering design and aesthetics (which used to go hand-in-hand), it has become a national disgrace.

Chris Ludlow
Toulon, France

While I’d agree there are aesthetic issues in their design, there are many reasons for the reappearance of corridor connections on the new design of multiple units, including the ability to move passengers from one section of a train to another in the event of an incident; two or more units in multiple don’t need additional staff proportionally; and it also allows passengers who have boarded in one unit to move to another when looking for seats. As for ugly units, might I suggest the Danish State Railways IC/IR/ET or Belgian AM96 EMUs with their massive front-end rubber diaphragms? What do readers consider to be the ugliest multiple unit they have encountered? – Ed.

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