If you contrast it against a regular passenger train you will realize what a design feat the metro coach is. It is the result of an extremely demanding functional requirement cast in appropriate materials in a way that can only be described as stunning.

It’s been some time since the metro has been around in Kolkata and Delhi and recently in Bangalore.

Commuters now take this high quality commute for granted. But did you know, for instance, that a modern metro coach costs Rs. 8 crore on an average? Or for that matter, most new coaches for the major metro projects in India are manufactured indigenously?

What strikes most commuters is the highest level of functionality and the outstanding design of the coaches. The modern metro coach design stands tall on all parameters of design for public spaces.

Safety is the single most important parameter in the design. The bodywork has layers of materials which serve various functions from fireproofing to impact resistance, the final layer being aluminium or austenitic stainless steel. The coaches weigh about 50 tonnes and on an average weigh 75 tonnes when full. Weight reduction directly translates into a highly efficient and green form of urban transport.

One of the most significant aspects of designing for a system that involves such a high everyday use by common people is its maintainability. Apart form the functional, performance and safety aspects, maintainability gives the interiors a striking and distinct visual language of its own.

A very unique aspect of the overall system is its universal design. People who are physically challenged can use the metro in a way that does not need special arrangements. When you design for the elderly and the physically challenged, the product or the system becomes incredibly easy to use for everyone.

Metro interiors
This article was published in the Economic Times on 3 Aug 2013 as part of a fortnightly series called Functional Design authored by Makarand Kulkarni – Co-Founder, Ether Design.

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