Commuter victory as rail firm ditches ironing board seats on new trains

Commuters are enjoying a rare victory after one of the UK’s main rail operators upgraded its seating following complaints about “ironing board” chairs on trains.LNER, the operator of the East Coast mainline, says it has designed ergonomic, padded seats with increased leg room for new trains that will be introduced on the London-to-Scotland route from next year. The new Hitachi Class 800 trains are currently being tested and will be on the tracks by February, but with improved seating following a backlash against so-called ‘ironing boards’ used by other operators. Passengers complained over the uncomfortable seating, but rail operators blamed Department for Transport guidelines, which had deemed too much cushioning to be a potential fire hazard. LNER has said its new fleet will have new, “ergonomically-designed” chairs with “7cm of extra legroom”, boasting that passengers will “enjoy the best leg room on the east coast.”The company said: “All the seats are ergonomic, that means they’re really comfortable.” The trains, described as “Japanese bullet-style”, have been adapted for the operator, which is adding a power socket by every seat and electronic seat reservations.The “ironing board seat” backlash has affected other rail companies, including Greater Anglia which redesigned its carriage interiors after complaints from customers earlier this year. The company said at the time: “We’ve heard the feedback from customers, we’ve listened, and we care about them being as comfortable as possible so we’ve selected a seat which is far more comfortable for customers.”Thameslink claimed that its much-derided unpadded seats were due to strict DfT health and safety guidelines.The issue has even been raised in parliament, with then-transport minister Jo Johnson promising commuters that the un-cushioned seats would become “more comfortable with use.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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