2 March 2022

Leather Naturally reports that a Scottish leather company called Muirhead recently refurbished 234 rail carriages for Irish Rail by re-covering 15,500 train seats with genuine leather. It is a reminder that leather is (quite literally) the natural choice for all kinds of transportation applications – including car interior leather – thanks to its unique properties. Report by One 4 Leather

Leather performs better all round than fabric
The choice for leather over fabric was made on the grounds of performance and cost, according to Aisling Norton, Project Manager at Irish Rail. “Over twelve years, fabric seats cost €5.8 million including cleaning,” she says, “while leather seats cost €2.6 million. That’s a saving of €3.2 million!” Another reason for choosing leather covers was hygiene. Aisling points out that leather does not trap any odours in the way that fabric might, making them easier to maintain and much more pleasant for travellers.

A cost-effective choice for car interiors
When it comes to cars, these aspects of fabric upholstery are often overlooked. Using fabric might seem like an ‘easy win’ for the manufacturer, but they are passing on a lifetime of maintenance tasks and costs to their customers. Leather for car seats, by contrast, is far more durable than fabric and resist stains well. With high tensile strength, leather seats are also very flexible and not prone to the same wear as fabric. Better still, any signs of age in leather that do occur actually make it look even better.

Leather seats make business sense
Leather is sometimes thought of as a ‘luxury’ option. Indeed, Peter Smyth, Irish Rail’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, says that when the seats were first unveiled to the public, passengers would ask the guards to check their tickets because they thought they were in first class! It is true that leather does have a feel of supreme comfort and luxury but what this story shows is that car manufacturers are missing out on real commercial benefits by not using automotive leather. In line with the general move toward ‘decontenting’, fabric might seem like an easy option but, it turns out to be a false economy in the end – and it is their customers who must ultimately pick up the bill. (With thanks to our friends at Leather Naturally for the original article.)

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