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BMW Group has announced that its subsidiary DesignWorksUSA was contracted to design the trains for the Kuala Lumpur Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. The California-based global design consultancy handled the exterior and interior design of the 58 driverless Siemens Inspiro train sets, which will go into service in 2017.

The theme of the design, “Guiding Light”, is said to be a nod to Kuala Lumpur’s heritage and a “strong statement” towards its future, taking inspiration from the city’s multicultural makeup. The front of the train features angular LED lights that deliver a “strong graphical character” and is a reference to the capital’s multifaceted architecture.

“The exterior design is a bold statement of dynamism and strength. It symbolizes self confidence, technological leadership, progress and safety,” said Laurenz Schaffer, president of DesignworksUSA.

The interior, meanwhile, features a livery with varying shades of blue, hinting at the city’s vitality and cultural diversity. Contrasting colours have been used at the door areas to help guide passengers and ensure easy entrance and exit. LEDs are used to light up the train’s interior, including under the seats to promote a feeling of safety and spaciousness, as well as to aid maintenance of the trains.

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With 58 four-car train sets, the MRT system is expected to have a frequency of one train every 3.5 minutes, with a capacity of 1,200 passengers for each train. Six wheelchair-designated areas with handrails are allocated for each train, and beeping sounds and lights will guide disabled passengers when the doors are opening or closing. The train sets have a 30-year lifespan and are approximately 95% recyclable.

A mock-up of the train – which replicates half a car, including its face – is currently on display at the KLIA Ekspres arrival hall at KL Sentral. The mock-up will be available for public viewing every day until May 18 from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

So, the Ultimate Transit Machine, anyone?