BMW designs new subway for Kuala Lumpur

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Between the unfortunate saga of flight MH370 and the grand prix this weekend, Malaysia has been on our radar more than usual lately. And now the Southeast Asian country has popped up again, once more related to transportation issues, as Kuala Lumpur is working on a new subway system. Which isn't something we'd normally care about, but this subway just happens to have been designed by BMW.

Or one of its divisions, anyway. While BMW makes all manner of automobiles and motorcycles and even has a background in aviation, its subterranean transportation business is handled by DesignworksUSA, a network of design studios that fall under the BMW Group umbrella. The California studio recently designed a refresh for San Francisco's BART trains, and has now turned its focus on the Malaysian capital.

The trains penned by BMW DesignworksUSA are based on the Metro Inspiro system engineered by Siemens and will be built in Malaysia by domestic constructor Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd. The 58 driverless, four-car trains feature LED lighting, handicapped access and contrasting-color doors for easy embarking and disembarking. Larger wheels make it ride quieter and after their planned 30-year life-cycle, they'll be 95 percent recyclable. But our favorite part (whether it makes it onto the finished product or not) is the signature BMW racing stripes flanking the stainless steel coachwork... you know, because racing.
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A new metro for Kuala Lumpur.
BMW Group DesignworksUSA designs new Siemens metro for Kuala Lumpur. Train head with modern light concept. (03/2014)

Munich/ Kuala Lumpur. Klang Valley, the metropolitan region around Malaysia`s capital Kuala Lumpur, is home to around four million people. In order to strengthen the appeal of this fast growing region and to prepare for the urban transit challenges of the future Kuala Lumpur will rely on the innovative Metro Inspiro by German train manufacturer Siemens. Being build by Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd a total of 58 trains will be in service as of 2017 on one of the most frequented lines of the city. BMW Group subsidiary DesignworksUSA developed the design for the new underground passenger trains.

Identity through Design.
A metropolis' identity is notably determined by the quality and visual impression of its local public transport system. Identity also was a key driver in the design development of the new Metro Inspiro for Kuala Lumpur: The cityscape is characterized by a mixture of cultures and religions manifested in a rich architectural diversity. Tradition and progress are at the heart of the people's pride and self confidence and also inspired the design concept for the new metro. Under the name "Guiding Light" the design of the Metro Inspiro takes a bow to the rich heritage of Kuala Lumpur and makes a strong statement towards the future.

"The exterior design is a bold statement of dynamism and strength. It symbolizes self confidence, technological leadership, progress and safety," says Laurenz Schaffer, President of BMW Group DesignworksUSA. The light concept in the front of the train bears a strong graphical character. It is a reference to the facetted architecture of the capital. In the train interior the interplay of past and future continues: The lively colour concept with varying shades of blue and traditional symmetrical patterns is a fresh interpretation of the vitality and cultural diversity of Kuala Lumpur. Color contrasts in the door areas help guide passengers and enable an easy entrance or exit. The train interior features an LED lighting system. The use of indirect light beneath the seats creates a feeling of spaciousness and safety and enables easy maintenance of the trains.

Metro Inspiro for people and environment.
When operational a total of 58 driverless trains will be in service allowing a frequency of one train every 3.5 minutes during peak hours. With a spacious layout each four-car trainset will have a capacity of 1.200 passengers improving the daily ridership target of the operator. The train design also takes into consideration the needs of disabled people: Six specific areas in each train are equipped with hand-rails which offer sufficient space to allow wheelchair-bound passengers to be seated in their rides. The doors will emit a beeping sound and light to guide disabled passengers when the train doors are closing and opening.

The new metro for Kuala Lumpur also has a convincing environmental record: The trains which have a 30-year life-cycle are approximately 95 percent recyclable. They consist of light weight stainless steel car bodies, weight-optimized components and employ highly efficient air conditioning and lighting systems which substantially reduce energy costs. The trains have high-efficiency traction and train control systems and due to large wheel diameters they will be substantially quieter than their predecessors. With all these features the new Metro Inspiro will reflect the dynamism, elegance and technological progress of Kuala Lumpur and also take on responsibility for the people of the metropolitan region Klang Valley.

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