That’s right. I know what you want. I have my finger on the pulse of my fanbase. You come here for photographs of train interiors! It’s so obvious. Well wait no longer my beauties, I’m here to give you what you crave: Cozy train interiors. Starting with the Hiawatha “Sky Top” observation car:
This was the one that really ignited my interest in this topic. Look how fuckin’ cozy. It was designed by designed by Brooks Stevens and manufactured by Milwaukee Road in 1948. In 1970 it was removed from service, but then it was acquired by the RHMA in 1998 and has remained in use to this day.
Here it is from the outside. I know I told you this article would be about train interiors but that was merely a ruse, to keep you on your toes. There were only two of these made, the other one opted for a more space age aesthetic, seen below:
Which is better? I’d say the wood panel one was cozier, but this one’s cooler. Which quality is more important in a train interior? Cozy. It says so right in the title of this article. If you don’t pay closer attention, you will never survive the coming Train Wars of 2059.
Check out this blatantly 1970s shit. This is in my home state of Oregon too, the Expo ’74 Amtrak passenger train passing through the Cascade mountain range between Spokane and Seattle. Many of these people are likely dead now.
These are both of a Via rail observation car passing from Vancouver to Alberta, Canada. I really should’ve titled this article “observation cars” but you know what? Call the police, idgaf. Observation cars are cool as hell and if you don’t agree, get out of my face.
This one’s from the Rocky Mountain luxury train, also in Canada. This seems to be the popular style for observation cars these days. It affords a great view, but eh. It’s kind of bland, isn’t it? Still, one of the nice things about rail travel is the ability to enjoy passing scenery close up rather than far below, as it would be seen from a plane.
This one’s a Rovos Rail lounge car. Lounge cars aren’t as visually striking as observation cars but dude, get a load of that top tier comf. That is some serious coze factor in that picture there.
It gets nicer. Believe me it gets way nicer than that. The Shiki-Shama luxury train which passes through both Tohoku and Hokkaido features, among other things, a dedicated sleeper car as the caboose which looks to be larger than my first apartment.
The Shiki-Shama’s dining car is no less impressive. In the same way that riding horses became a pastime of the wealthy after cars replaced them for every day transport, conventional trains are headed in that direction.
They remain a popular mode of transport for regular people even in nations with extensive highspeed rail networks like Europe, China, and Japan where low speed trains still have about 3x the ridership of highspeed trains. But little by little, those low speed trains will become the province of wealthy hobbyists.
What does the future hold for comfortable luxury trains? Not much probably, all movement seems to be towards higher speeds. The faster a train is, the less onboard amenities are needed, because passengers simply aren’t stuck aboard the train for long enough to need such things.
That’s a shame if you ask me. It may be slower and less efficient, but the design considerations for providing all the amenities of a hotel in such a confined space are really fascinating.
Besides, if efficiency is all you’re after, probably technology will make it possible to avoid any trips whatsoever by using telepresence robots plus VR. But is that any way to live? This may seem strange coming from me of all people, and especially in an article about rail travel, but truly…there is more to life than efficiency.
All the focus these days seems to be on Hyperloop. Which is exciting indeed, but the selfish and romantic part of me hopes that there is still room in the future for long, lazy, meandering train journeys through picturesque mountains.
Perhaps the day is coming when speed won’t matter so much. We’ll have nowhere that we need to be, and can instead afford to take it slow, soaking in the sights and sounds of a leisurely trip by rail.
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