French Trains – Classy Comfort, Chic and Smart, Speed and Space.
You have to hand it to them. When the French decide to ally elegance and ergonomics the results are often impressive to say the least.
First, here are a couple of figures. The rail network in France is extremely dense and it covers an area four-fifths the size of Texas. It carries over 850 million passengers a year over almost 35 thousand kilometers of track, which means billions of kilometers covered using over twenty thousand engine units and carriages.
Not all French trains are new of course, but older rolling stock is becoming more and more scarce with every passing year. The fastest train here, the TGV, holds the world speed record for wheeled trains, 357mph, and is the world’s fastest in-service train, with commercial speeds of 200mph being common. Many trains run on electical power too, which helps to reduce the pollution engendered by the transport of us humans.
French trains are generally light years ahead of their English and American counterparts in terms of speed, passenger comfort and amenities. Moreover most other mainland European railroad companies possess many French-made trains. Modern trains here are very quiet, and the romantic “clattering of the rails” is a thing of the past (sorry for the nostalgics!)
This collection of photos show you what you can expect to see when you get on a train here. It’s all about using design, light and colour to create an agreeable environment. This isn’t surprising though when you think that people like Christian Lacroix helped to design them. Even the toilets are attractive.
I particularly like the double-decker trains. I mean, a stairwell in a train?! It’s like being in a 747. There are video screens giving the list of upcoming stations and realtime arrival times, the weather and other information, the bar wagons are sublime, and, for the would-be-drivers among you, the driver’s compartment looks like something out of a futuristic movie….
Oh, and talking of the future, although wi-fi net connection is common, upcoming plans include built in computers in business class, individual video screens, leather seat-beds, and meeting rooms.
All they need to do now is install cellphone-blockers for the “I’m on a train, how’s your budgie’s arthritis?” brigade, and travelling will have reached Nirvanic levels of perfection...
Enjoy, and a good weekend to all!
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