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Visible product development - Foxa developed a high-visibility bright-green colour for VR train drivers' new work coat

In spring 2019, VR, the Finnish national railway company, renewed its workwear for on-board personnel. The change applied to around 2200 VR employees working as train drivers, as conductors on local and long-distance trains, as service advisors, and in restaurant cars.

The new clothing range was developed in close collaboration with VR personnel. The new workwear placed emphasis on functionality in various weather conditions, comfort, and durability. Another aim was to improve the visibility of VR employees and to help them to stand out. VR came up with the idea of developing their own high-visibility green colour for train drivers' outfits.

The process began with the selection of a suitable fabric and colours. The Mistral fabric from Foxa's Action product family was chosen for the coats. It is extremely suitable for train drivers, whose coats must be weatherproof, breathable and easy to care for. Action Mistral was also selected because it had been well-received by users when used in other official workwear. In addition, it was possible to develop the special high-visibility green colour for the train drivers with Action Mistral.

"Train drivers often move around the railway yard, and so for safety reasons they must wear high-visibility clothing that complies with safety category 2. Previously, train drivers had to use separate high-visibility safety vests. We wanted to make things easier for them by designing a coat that would itself be high-visible but still fit VR's bright green branding," explains Jaana Arvo.

At Foxa, product director Marjaana Naatula rose to the challenge and decided that developing an EN1150 standard-compliant high-visibility green coat in the Action Mistral fabric would be an interesting product development project.

"The challenge was that VR's preferred colour had to be made from scratch. That's why product development began with finding and specifying the correct colour. Development work on the new colour was carried out in the close collaboration with the colour manufacturer, which is rather exceptional", explains Marjaana, who coordinated development work between the fabric plant and dyeing plant to meet VR's colour preferences.

After VR's comprehensive risk assessments and thorough planning, the rail traffic safety authority Trafi issued a special permit to approve the product plan for the train drivers' coat. This made it possible to start procurement of suitable high-visibility green coats for train drivers carrying out track work. A competition organised to procure the new clothing range was won by Tampere-based workwear manufacturer Image Wear, who fine-tuned the details of the clothing together with VR personnel.

"The end result of this long and complex project was a resounding success. One of the primary aims of the new workwear was to improve the visibility of VR personnel as well as to provide a more casual appearance without compromising on comfort. The new high-visibility colour truly makes VR personnel stand out. Both our own staff and customers can easily spot them on the tracks. A VR train driver wearing the new high-visiblity green coat on the platform at Ilmala is visible all the way from Pasila," jokes Jaana Arvo.

VR's new workwear range was developed in collaboration with workwear manufacturer Image Wear, which also acts as VR's partner when recycling old clothing. In additon to Action Mistral, the new clothing also uses the Foxshell Fleece M and NOM fabrics, both developed by Foxa.

Links to VR's press release and IW's press release