Next Level Travelling
Mobility – the ability of people to move as freely as possible over the longest possible distances – is one of the great challenges of our time. Regardless of your perspective on the matter. And even a cursory glance at the environmental balance sheet will tell you: per person and kilometer, a fully occupied train is hard to beat in terms of sustainability. And yet: big money is propping up new transportation concepts. Since these "new" ideas are supposed to raise transport to a new level, that’s hardly surprising.
Need for speed
Almost all new developments are about one thing: speed. If you get from A to B faster, you spend (surprise!) less time on the road. Less travel time = more lifetime, is the formula there. Real world experience does show that time is indeed a decisive factor for frequency of use, when it comes to long range transportation. Since the introduction of the TGV between Paris and Lyon, for example, the flights between the two cities are hardly ever used. Similar effects were expected of the high-speed train connection between LA and San Francisco, one of the busiest routes in the US, before it was abandoned in favor of the Hyperloop concept, which promises even higher speeds.
There is, however, a not insignificant catch to all of these ideas: on the one hand, most of the concepts are still in the testing stage and are still far from being implemented. The Hyperloop, for example, is still struggling with engineering challenges (e.g. there are open questions about the construction of the tubes, the vacuum seals and even the propulsion), major material issues and massive safety concerns, not to mention the issue of cost. For their part, the various air taxi ideas have not yet proven their practicality, but they certainly do not solve the problem of mass transport, not to mention the regulatory difficulties, they are facing.
The most promising concept seems to be the magnetic levitation train, which can reach around 500 km/h in its high-speed version at the moment. However, it remains to be seen how large the potential really is and how likely it is outweighing the costly new infrastructure.
Wouldn’t it be better to build for comfort?
This is precisely where the greatest advantage of the railway lies. Tracks and infrastructure, overhead lines, stations, depots, etc. already exist. And yet, the concept of the train as it stands today would have to be fundamentally rethought. And it would have to happen from the inside out. With the railway concept “Superlounge”, we at moodley industrial design would like to showcase such a solution, which is rarely or never seen in public discourse. The idea of pushing the good old railway into the future is probably too boring for that.
But: if modern high-speed trains were designed as living spaces instead of means of transport, then the equation: less travel time = more living time would not have to apply at all. In spacious rooms, with high-quality, comfortable and individualized design, life would not have to be put on pause. Time could be used for relaxation, work or entertainment. And the good old train would not only be superior in terms of environmental balance, but also absolutely competitive in other respects.