Thursday, September 11, 2008

Only In Japan

Check out that swanky interior, what could that be from? It's from one of the cars on a new train in Japan specifically designed with open and fun places for kids and families. When is the last time you saw an interior like that in a plane or an automobile?

Although I doubt we will see anything quite like this on an American train any time soon unfortunately. What I love about this is it shows the potential trains have to play with space. The only other forms of transportation with such potential are boats & ships, and obviously sea fairing vessels have limited potential for moving people in and between our cities.

I stumbled across this quirky but delightful train doing a Google search of the words train and awesome. The web post does not provide any details or sources, and my initial attempts to find other information on it came up empty. I'm really curious about this project, so if you find out something before I do, drop me a line in the comments.

1 comment:

Rafael said...

SNCF offers dedicated "espaces familles et nurseries" in 2nd class on selected TGV cars. Each of these features 4 seats, segregated by half-height walls plus glass. They are intended for passengers traveling with babies and small children and keep the noise down for everyone else. The tables open up to reveal a selection of board games, with pieces available on board for EUR 2. A changing station and bottle warmer are located nearby.

Separately, "espaces bureau" (small conference rooms with electrical outlets) are available in 2nd class for business travelers, though many prefer to pay the modest premium for first class seats with personal desks. The TGV Est and Thalys lines already offer always-on broadband internet access and on-board video proxy servers, at no extra cost for first class passengers. Premium services include business lounges and conference rooms at selected stations, taxi waiting, valet parking etc.

The slower but ultra-comfy Corail Teoz leisure travel trains include dedicated play areas for children.

The new iDTGV service is aimed at families that include older children, offering both quiet and entertainment zones, the latter featuring video-on-demand and train attendant services.

Finally, all over Western Europe, the interiors of old clapped-out rail cars are occasionally stripped entirely clean to create slow-moving dance party trains. Passengers usually bring their own snacks and booze - the minimum drinking age in most of Europe is either 16 or 18. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

However, the idea of an essentially open-plan rail car with hard-edged furniture that young children can cavort in doesn't strike me as particularly safe, even at low speeds. Perhaps Japanese munchkins are just better behaved than their Western counterparts.

I would expect HSR train interiors in the US to resemble those in France or Germany, rather than those in Japan.