'Pah!' to convention, said the French engineering company Alstom (we imagine; we weren't there) as it revealed it's new surrealist anti-symmetrical train yesterday at the Satchi Gallery. Alstom, who have brought joy to Britain's rails with their mobile signal repellent Pendolino and less than reliable Juniper, are setting their sights on the big train orders due for Crossrail and
First Capital Connect Thameslink, for which 1,200 new carriages will be needed.
Their convention busting XTrapolis design moves all the wheels to one end, the doors are packed into the middle and any sense of balance and proportion is consigned to the drafting room floor. Alstom credit the (perhaps Dali inspired?) design with higher capacity, quicker boarding and alighting, lower weight, cheaper maintenance and improved efficiency.
German manufacture Siemens and Canadian Bombardier have proposed more traditional designs based on their successful trains and newcomer Hitachi have dropped out to focus on their winning bid for the intercity contract.
It's a small consolation that whatever unit wins the
First Capital Connect Thameslink bid will likely be painted pink and navy and plastered with First Group logos, thus any aesthetic quality will be lost; but with the colour scheme for Crossrail yet to be decided (how about a nice red, white and blue?) there's still something to play for.