The New South Wales government announced on 17 August 2016 that it had ordered 512 new intercity carriages to be built in South Korea. The new trains will be wider than existing V-set trains; some modifications will be required to the Blue Mountains line stations and tunnels.
Sending so much work (AU$2.3 billion) overseas attracted adverse comments however few people have considered passenger comfort.
The seats in the upper and lower decks of the carriages will not be reversible. At any time half of them will face away from the direction of travel. It is well-known that passengers on long trips have a strong preference for facing forwards and don't like knocking strangers' knees.
The authorities are well aware of this passenger preference but favour fixed seats because they:
We suspect that anyone complaining about the fixed seats, before or after the trains enter service, will be told that selecting fixed seats made the seating more comfortable. There is some truth in this - they are much more comfortable than standing for the couple of extra seats permitted by the smaller fixed-direction seating.
The seats will be equipped with power outlets for passengers with smartphones/iPads etc and, for all we know, with wifi. This raises a further excuse - complaints about fixed seats might be met by the authorities saying it was impracticable to have reversing seats with power connections.
It is intended to run the trains without guards; the driver is supposed to deal with any passenger issues.
Help us tell the authorities that the seats should be re-specified to be reversible and that guards are, unfortunately, necessary.