Train tango comes alive – the real-life balance between user friendliness & capacity

In our previous article Travel time becomes own time, we’ve shared our approach on translating the vision of the train interior of the future into to 2 real-life seating concept prototypes for the NS (Dutch National Railway Company). These were revealed and tested at Dutch Design Week 2019. Over the past

months, we’ve harnessed our VanBerlo flare and used the insights gathered at Dutch Design Week 2019 to create the next step in our design: building real-life mock-ups and trying them out at an NS testing facility at Culemborg train station. Here is how we have taken that concept further since then.

Artist impression and prototype of the windows counter shown @DDW 2019


With the collected insights from DutchDesignWeek in hand, we finalised the ergonomics of two new NS seating concepts for a final test round. Final testing came down to adjusting details like footrest position, seating depth and shape detailing to create the best experience for a wide range of passengers.



Evaluating ergonomics, experience and overall look and feel of the extended facing module


In addition to ergonomics, look and feel have played large roles in the overall travel experience. Based on the NS brand, we defined a design DNA and translated that in concrete design cues, enabling us to detail main elements like chairs and grab handles to fully test the look and feel of the interior concept with travellers.



Design details contribute to the overall look and feel of the test setup


As a first step, we created visuals for online testing by the NS. The results have given us broad insights to the (future) travellers’ appreciation of new modules, new layouts and the levels of comfort.

Obviously, these seats and modules needed to be tested in reality. Therefore, a life-sized testing module was built (hats off to Fortu de Haas) at Culemborg train station. Here, controlled user testing has been carried out with more than 500 travellers and internal stakeholders to examine realistic travel experiences. Invited to have a sneak peek at the final concept, our project team visited the testing facility. It proved once again the importance of building real-life mock-ups for testing, especially when it comes to analysing the overall experience.




We were highly impressed with the mock-up and proud to see how much of an imprint we have had on the DNA of the future NS train design. It’s a privilege to see our work come alive; from creating the DNA to ergonomic testing to design detailing. The positive results of the user test have reinforced the great efforts exerted by both the NS and the VanBerlo team.


Experiencing the complete interior of a future 1st class coupe


We are excited to see the concept come to life, should the NS move forward to manufacture these trains!



NS testing facility showing the full-size mockup (2nd & 1st class) at Culemborg train station