COULD these be the train seats of the future?

One design company has come up with carriage seating designed to ease the issue of over-crowding on busy commuter routes.

The seats are likely to divide opinion among Sussex's train-users who have to endure standing on morning commutes to London.

Design company PriestmanGoode has unveiled two concepts. The first, called Island Bay, is a "flexible seating solution" that provides regular seats during off-peak, and a higher density configuration during peak hours resulting in 15 to 20 per cent more seats and increased standing capacity.

The company says it boasts increased seat width, a dual-purpose table and window seat and an additional end-of-bay seat with padded back rest to give previously standing passengers a more comfortable ride.

The second, more compact design, called Horizon, allows between 20-30 per cent more seats per carriage (based on a typical commuter train), as well as increased standing space.

The staggered seat design increases shoulder space between passengers, improving the feeling of personal space. Each seat has two foot rests to comfortably accommodate passengers of different heights.

Both types of seat offer a USB charging point.

Paul Priestman, designer and chairman of PriestmanGoode, said: “We’re currently facing a dilemma.

"On the one hand, it’s imperative that we encourage mass transit over the use of personal vehicles if we want to live in a more sustainable world.

"On the other, as more and more people use these services, many passengers face stress and discomfort as they try to get a seat or even just board a train.

"As designers, we need to innovate to help alleviate the problem and improve the passenger experience.”

But not everyone is sold.

Bruce Williamson of Railfuture, a passenger campaign group, said the seats were “not a long-term solution to the decades of under-investment that have created capacity problems on trains”.

He told a national newspaper: “We support imaginative solutions to overcrowding but the bottom line is that most people want a comfortable seat.”

The designs have already raised queries from passengers who would not wish to perch on a seat they have paid for.

In response the company said "perch seats" as a concept generally refer to seats you lean on. In comparison, its designs offer a fully supported position, meaning they take the weight off your feet.

"We developed these solutions with an ergonomist, to ensure that the seats would provide the physical advantage of a regular seat," a PriestmanGoode spokeswoman added.

Govia Thameslink Railway, the company that runs the network, has no plans to bring in the seats.

A spokesman said: “All the trains we are bringing in during the life of our franchise have been specified with regular seats.”