PESA Bydgoszcz

Business type
Railway Manufacturer
Chief designer
Bartosz Piotrowski
Design support
Marad Design


PESA Bydgoszc, founded in 1851, was a railway-repairer of the Prussian Eastern Railway. Due to 90s market changes in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, PESA and other companies across the region needed to restructure their activities and rethink business strategy to suit the new economic reality.

In 2011 PESA made a strategic shift in order to claim a stronger position in the European market by emphasising the use of design. Since then and with great success, PESA's primary expertise has been designing and manufacturing low-floor trams for urban transport. In 2006 PESA won its first export order to Western Europe, an original order of 13 trams to the Italian company Ferrovie del Sud Est. In 2009, PESA signed the 'contract of a century', an order to deliver 186 low-floor trams to the Warsaw urban transportation system at a cost of €460 million. In 2012, Deutsche Bahn (DB) signed two framework contracts with PESA to build up to 470 trains for regional and local services (dependent on DB continuing its operating contracts) potentially worth €1,2bn.

In March 2014 PESA won the Financial Times 2014 Award for 'Boldness in Business'.

How design helped

Up until 2001 PESA had no experience of using design. Therefore, they initiated an external partnership with the Academy of Fine Arts Industrial Design Department in Gdansk. What they found was that they also needed an experienced designer within the company to reap design's full potential.

In 2006, award-winning industrial designer, Bartosz Piotrowski was headhunted as the future Chief Designer of PESA. As he explains "a critical and original solution to a problem is nurtured under the full integration of design, technology and design management."

A critical and original solution to a problem is nurtured under the full integration of design, technology and design management.

Dr Bartosz Piotrowski

By introducing design to the organisation, Piotrowski added qualitative know-how to the technical processes in PESA. He started by applying user-driven design methods such as user research, conceptual design, interdisciplinary projects, and prototyping in the processes of developing vehicles. Today his design team consists of 10 designers co-creating the product development with 350 engineers in the R&D department. The value of these design processes has been demonstrated through the development of several innovative vehicles and very impressive export contracts.

Piotrowski states why design has not only been vital for styling and finish, but also for the organisation of product development in PESA. "Technology is changing rapidly and products are becoming increasingly easier to use. But human needs and desires are changing even faster, [so] there is always a puzzle to solve for the designer. Design organises product thinking. Not only its appearance and functions but the whole process from concept to the creation of a product."


  • €80.4M the amount invested in innovation and design between 2013-2015
  • 10 designers co-create with 350 engineers in R&D
  • €514M increase in turnover

Design and innovation initiatives have ensured remarkable changes for the old railway manufacturer, resulting in steady and consistent growth. Design has been integrated into many different aspects of the company, demonstrating the holistic approach of design methods. Through these methods, PESA has created innovative products and improved the quality of them by catering to the consumers' functional and emotional needs.

After 15 years of investing in design, today PESA claims market share in Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Germany, Russia and Bulgaria.