Under the direction of Axel Enthoven, Yellow Window designed the new Bombardier M7 double-decker trains that the Belgian national railway company, NMBS, shall gradually be bringing into service starting in September 2018.
Of course, the design had to meet a long and broad spectrum of current and future needs of the NMBS and its passengers (various quantitative and qualitative improvements, more passengers, a better travel experience, comfort, accessibility, communication, etc).
The ultimate challenge however, was to bring an innovative and modern impulse to the train product, but at the same time to design the new interiors to be perfectly compatible with the existing M6 coaches, the current reference of the NMBS. This requirement offers the NMBS both flexibility in train composition, maintenance and spare parts, but above all the potential of a future upgrade of the M6 fleet to M7 with the absolute minimum of modifications.
The M7 coaches offer the passenger a totally new look and feel. As with the M6, passengers enjoy a particularly open, spacious interior experience because a large number of seats are placed back to back. A new LED lighting concept has developed this even further.
More space and better accessibility for travellers has also been provided and thanks to the completely new seat design the traveller enjoys better ergonomic support. An integrated, more efficient backrest has been designed for most seats. The extra legroom between the face-to-face seats is an improvement in the comfort of the passengers sitting opposite each other, with the same amount of luggage space. It also allows an increase in the number of seats. Individual reading lights contribute to a feel-good feeling and larger tables that can be folded up provide better accessibility.
Even with the physical and visual innovations, the design is technologically an evolution - a careful further development of and attention for the compatibility with the M6 trains. This allows the NMBS to evolve the older M6 fleet to the M7 fleet economically with a minimum of adjustments. The new seats, luggage racks and tables, as well as the semi-indirect lighting, can be fitted in an M6 carriage thanks to identical interfaces.
At the end of 2015, the NMBS ordered 445 M7 coaches from the Bruges branch of train builder Bombardier. The trains will be delivered between September 2018 and December 2021.