Safe standing moved up a level in May 2020 as rail seats were installed for the first time in England with an extra step along every row. Fitted with rail seats from Ferco Seating, the small stand at Telford Athletics Club is the first anywhere in the UK to have this novel extra step between every row of seats.
While the capacity of the stand when used as seating is just 110, the extra step enables that to be significantly increased when used for standing. With spectators then stood on two levels along each row, the total capacity increases to 178. For the stadium industry this small stand is thus big news.
Rail seats have previously been installed by Ferco Seating at Celtic, Kilmarnock and Shrewsbury Town, where the ratio of standing fans to seats is 1:1. Now, utilising the extra step concept provided for in the latest edition of the Sports Ground Safety Authority's 'Green Guide', the ratio in Telford is a pioneering 1.6:1.
Above: Railseats at Celtic FC with no intermediate step (left) and Railseats at Shrewsbury Town with no intermediate step (right)
When not in use, the new metal seats will be left locked upright to provide maximum protection from vandalism, which the previous conventional seats used to suffer at the often unattended venue. When events take place and spectators are allowed again, the seats will either be unlocked and lowered for use as seating or left locked so that the stand can be used for standing.
In the latter case, the seats' minimal closed depth of just 50mm and the seating row depth of 800mm will comfortably leave the prescribed space for two lines of spectators. Increasing spectator capacity in this way is an idea that is interesting football clubs too. Everton for example, have plans for doing this at their new stadium and Lincoln City have incorporated the idea into their expansion plans.
“In Telford and at football stadia like these the key to being able to increase capacity in this way is fitting rail seats that take up as little space as possible,” explains Ferco Seating's Managing Director, Michael Burnett. “If when closed the seats are just 50mm deep, like those in Telford, or just 100mm deep like our RailSeat 100, then - wherever regulations allow - creating extra capacity in this way is very doable.”
Above: Intermediate step concept on a 760mm deep seating row
Previous projects for which Ferco Seating have provided seating include the London 2012 Aquatic Centre, Arsenal's Emirates stadium, Headingley Cricket Ground, theatres in the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, corporate auditoria at the headquarters of IBM and Lenovo and lecture theatres in high-profile universities all over the world.