London's Heathrow Express has unveilled new-look trains designed to look more like a relaxed business lounge.
The first of the fully refurbished carriages, fitted with new interiors as part of a £16m (A$25m) overhaul, began the 20 minute sprint between Heathrow airport and Paddington this week. The entire fleet is expected to be upgraded by April 2013.
The new First Class carriages now sport single seating throughout the carriage, one of several design decisions which the company says move it closer to a "business lounge-like environment" in attempts to win over corporate travellers.
Other enhancements include quilted seat covers, removal of overhead luggage racks and large HD TV screens.
The revamped Heathrow Express "was built with airline customers and business travellers in mind" explains Dan Smith, head of engineering at Heathrow Express, and "mirrors an airline experience whilst complying with forthcoming safety standards due to be introduced in 2019."
The company is also claiming improved mobile phone signals on all points of its routes.
Even the 'cheap seats' in standard Express Class get a make-over. Revised seating layouts offer a variety of bay and airline seating, as opposed to ranked pairs of forward-facing seats.
Power points have been installed so you can top up your notebook or tablet en route. Moveable arm rests have been added between seats and some seat tables removed, to be replaced by smaller less-intrusive tables and cup holders.
Clear glass panels in the overhead luggage racks add to the sense of space in the carriages.
There's also LED lighting along the cabin, including coloured mood lighting under the seats. As the train approaches the Heathrow and Paddington stations the lighting intensifies to provide passengers with a visual cue to gather up their luggage and make a move.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.