PriestmanGoode designed the Proteus rail interior system with aims to transform future rail experiences. The new rail interior system is a collection of ideas that offer more flexibility, improved comfort and design features that benefit both commuters and leisure travellers. 


PriestmanGoode was awarded funding for the project through the Department for Transport’s First of a Kind competition run by Innovate UK, with their application sponsored and supported by project partners Angel Trains and Chiltern Railways.

It was essential the rail system responded to the evolving patterns of travel following the pandemic and support the goal of bringing more passengers back to rail.


Proteus takes its name from the Greek God’s ability to assume many forms and foretell the future. In response to different patterns in commuter travel, a busier leisure market, increased concerns for personal space and hygiene, the features which are subject to design registration by PG include:

  • An innovative staggered seat layout that eliminates ‘shoulder clash’ and a headrest to improve comfort and privacy
  • A wider, more accessible aisle with a 2-2 seat configuration achieved by the removal of the unpopular and under-utilised middle seat
  • Pairs of seats designed for comfort, with tip-up seat pan on aisle seats, allowing passengers to keep cases or fold-up bikes close-by
  • Benefits for families with buggies allowing them to travel together in the carriage in open bays seats that offer the same tip-up seat flexibility
  • Flexible spaces adjacent to all entrance vestibules with longitudinal seating that can be used for multiple purposes, depending on demand
  • The latest developments in sustainable materials, trims and finishes

Click and drag your mouse over the image below to explore the carriage in 360 degrees.

“Proteus responds to changes in travel patterns and adds comfort and features that should make rail the first choice over certain distances. Future train interiors need to be more flexible to meet different passenger needs at different times of the day or different stages of the week. This flexibility needs to be built-in for operators to avoid engineering intervention,” said Son Tran, Director at PriestmanGoode.

The design team at PriestmanGoode worked with engineering partner Quantum Seating Limited and partners Muirhead, Replin and Altro who supplied the latest materials, trims and finishes for the demonstrator.

“We’ve taken a pragmatic approach to the First of a Kind brief, balancing ground-breaking ideas with the constraints of existing rolling stock. The outcome provides interesting options for both new rolling stock and retrofit opportunities as operators around the world look to build flexibility into their train interiors” Mike Lambourn, Senior Project Head.

“The rail industry has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, and we want to ensure passengers are comfortable getting back on trains, one of the greenest and most efficient modes of transport. These innovative designs from PriestmanGoode show how rail travel can be optimised in a post-Covid world to provide passengers with a greater sense of personal space. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with them alongside Chiltern Railways, the Department for Transport and Innovate UK.”

James Brown, formerly Decarbonisation Manager and Project Sponsor at Angel Trains.

“We are always focused on how we can improve the experience of our customers and always looking for innovation and creativity. This seating concept demonstrates what may be achieved with clever and varied thinking. The concepts presented are a useful consideration as the railway adapts to changing customer needs and expectations, particularly around increases in leisure travel across the network.”

Ian Hyde, Engineering & Safety Director for Chiltern Railways.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, visited PriestmanGoode’s Proteus demonstrator in Marylebone Station, London in March 2022. The visit was an opportunity to showcase how design innovation and collaboration across the UK supply chain can revolutionise future rail interiors and contribute to the goal of bringing more passengers back to rail.

Joining the Secretary of State were Kirsty Dias, Managing Director of PriestmanGoode, Richard Allan, Managing Director of Chiltern Railways and David Jordan, Chief Operating Officer at Angel Trains, who both sponsored PriestmanGoode in the development of Proteus.