I’ve always imagined a lot of decisions are made and discussions are had on the way to picking the interior of intercity rail cars. I had not imagined the makers of passenger rail cars made fancy advertising videos about the choices.

27 Replies to “Customize Your High Speed Rail Car”

  1. Damn! This is the rail equivalent of a Lexus commercial. It was sleek, sexy and cool. Damn. Amtrak should hire the ad company who made this (plus really improve their rolling stock). Will the California high speed rail be this nice?

    1. The amount of money spent on advertising cars in the US is staggering (I like David Suzuki’s suggestion that they should have to be portrayed stuck in traffic rather than barreling down empty switchback roads). Against that backdrop, I think there’s a compelling argument that the public sector should spend some money advertising transit (but I mean effective campaigns like Sound Transit’s last summer; not the dopey one Metro’s running). This is a great example of how transit can be promoted as sexy, sleek, fast, state of the art, etc. just as cars are now. It might also be good to use in advocacy for a dedicated federal funding source for local transit and intercity rail. Advertising is part of what we need to do to make transit at least equal to cars overall in the public’s perception.

  2. Only if we are willing to pay and pay and pay for the luxury, comfort, speed and flexibility.

  3. But where is Aunt Martha going to put her 3 steamer trunks where she can keep an eye on them???

    And how long until the trays get broken off?

    Besides, the FRA will never approve if this stuff.

    1. The FRA gives great latitude to interior designs.

      And the steamer trunks go at the end of the car, just as they do today…

  4. We need to advocate for change at the FRA to adopt European standards. In fact, European trains have had better results in crash tests than FRA compliants. Caltrain’s 2025 study did that and if it can be proven that non-FRA equipment can do better, they’ll issue a wavier.

  5. Government safety regulations have their place. Seatbelt laws were a good thing. The FRA standards were designed to address real problems that did exist. The problem is getting rid of regulations often proves a lot more difficult than enacting them; especially when they protect domestic markets.

    I agree FRA regulations need to change. I don’t know if Euro standards are universally applicable to the US but it’s probably better than what we currently have. Regulations are supposed to be for the greater public good. The current archaic collection of laws thwart that.

    1. I think that FRA regs need only very small tweaks. The real problem is in funding an intercity system.

      1. Well while it isn’t nearly enough the recent increase in Federal funding is a good start to improving intercity service.

  6. I think its interesting Alstom shows the model running through a somewhat arid environment. I see this as a potential nudge to California and China. Then again, a lot of those lexus ads are shot out in the desert.

    1. Alstom might be suggesting something to California. Its a big deal. 20-30 trainsets plus maintenance is a good chunk of change for them.

  7. Reminds me of the layouts of the early airliners.. with the adjustment for what was considered modern at the time. Still you can easily see how much more room they have two work with vs an airline. I suspect that the additional cost of a car on a train is way less than the “wasted” space on an airplane.

    Just rewatched “Slum Dog Millionaire” last night and looking at the crowded trains reminds me of the flights we have have now in comparison to this fancy Lexus train ad.

    1. It really helps that trains aren’t as limited on weight as planes are. And the power mechanism is smaller and no longer takes up an entire car or two.

  8. Its really too bad that FRA standards haven’t kept up with todays needs in rail transit. We can’t get cheap European DMU’s because they’re uncompliant. The Acela is too heavy and can’t accelerate very well while the weight causes massive stresses on the running gear. It cost more than an off-the shelf, proven TGV. We can’t use European trainsets because they’re not “safe enough”. I seem to remember it took some work to get the FRA to allow the Talgo transets to operate in the US.

    AGV’s for the USA!

    1. But we don’t have the grade- and otherwise-separated track for intercity trains, smoothing curves and topography, that France has built. That’s gonna cost a much bigger boatload of money.

  9. Dear Sound Transit:

    Please turn one of your cars into a 21+ only car with a full bar for special events like Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders Games as well as Britney Spears concerts.


    1. Not a bad idea. The ferries sell a lot of booze on game days. Though I’m not sure about Britney Spears, how much of her fan base is really old enough to drink? ;-)

    2. The New Haven Railway, now Metro North, have had bar cars for decades and they have been money makers as well as “community” builders. Metra in Chicago discontinued theirs last summer during $4 petrol to put in more seating. Does anyone know if any other commuter railways offer this level of customer service?

      1. Metro North still has bar cars as does the Long Island Rail Road. Most times it is not an actual car with a sit down bar or lounge-type seating but an employee with a tub of ice and beer standing behind a collapsible table. Nothing even close to an Amtrak lounge car. It’s also pretty affordable. 5 bucks for a 20 ounce can.

        Unfortunately New Jersey Transit does not have bar cars and although legal, drinking is much less common on NJT than on MN or LIRR. At both Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station there are carts on the platform (GCT) or at the top of the stairs (Penn) that sell beer as most trains are without bar cars. It seems to be only certain evening trains, or special summer scheduled trains, that actually have the cars.

      2. In New York the staten island ferry sells beer. It’s pretty awesome when the weather is great to get a beer, take a city and enjoy the scenery.

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