Train travel?????

Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:02 PM
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Train travel?????

Hi everyone

I am an industrial design student and I am working on a project that involves redesigning of railway passenger seats, ranging from light rail such as commuter trains to long distance trips on high speed trains. I would like any kind of comments based on your railway trip experiences- what did you like/hate about your train travel, what features/amenities you wish there were? anything would be of a great help. THANKS!!!!
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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On the long distance I didn't like that I had to ask the attendant to make my bed at night.

In the coach - what about those white napkins for head? do they ever change them? They always slip off or fold, very inconvenient.

I love folding-out tables! Or stationary tables. I appreciate that the elbow rest can be pulled up.

Why the bathrooms are always downstairs? So the handicapped can enjoy the smell?

I don't like that there is no divider between the chairs. At night if you travel alone and the train is sold out, you're practically in the same bed with a stranger. And it's not always a hunk

I wish the showers on the long trains would be redesigned. They sized for microbes now! No room for personal things to undress, to change after shower.

And we need some carry-on room in the roommettes.

And if you can put some nice views along the way
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:13 PM
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study the trains in britain and then do the opposite.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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walkinaround, that is a brilliant suggestion, but an even better one would be to study Amtrak, then do the opposite! Amtrak makes British trains look wonderful!
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:18 PM
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I don't like seats that force me to face other travelers and or those that don't face in the direction the train is traveling.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:28 PM
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Yes, the seats that face each other and make you play kneezies, plus make some people ride backwards- which is nauseating. None of those.

To me, the very worst thing is that the seats are now primarily cloth/upholesteried and thus are dirty and stink/ hold damp. Yuck!

Roomy, leather or man-made leather-like vinyl seats with sufficient arm rests.

Toilet in each car.

Passenger seat space being the primary commuter car negative, IMHO, that is the most important element for design- all else but safety and space should be negated as secondary after seat spacing. As in airplanes, they are too narrow, too hard. In long distance rail- passenger seat space and sufficient luggage space and surface material re all of the above made of substances that are durable and cleanable.

Every train I've been in (both types) in the last 10 years has been filthy.



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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 03:07 PM
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Not sure where I saw those, probably the train that goes from Santa Cruz beach boardwalk into the redwoods, they seats there are "convertable" - you can move the back support to face the other direction. This would solve the problem of riding backwards!
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 03:43 PM
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neo...
do amtrack trains require exiting passengers to open the door's window and stick their hands out to feel around for a door handle that is on the outside of the dirty, wet train and to open it at a very awkward angle that is nearly impossible for someone without the flexibility of a gymnast and the strength of a weightlifter?

and the brand new trains aren't much better:

announcements, display systems and clocks on the brand new southwest trains rolling stock are already broken more than they work.

the train companies can't or won't do anything about gangs of drunks that terrorise the trains and make everyone miserable but they have "listened to your feedback" and created mobile free and headphone/ipod free zones. most people talk on their mobiles no louder than they would to a travel companion so i don't see the point. i just saw someone threatened with a £50 fine for talking on her mobile and she could not even be heard over the (very loud) ventilation units on the brand new southwest trains stock.

anyway enough complaining.

a commuter train needs to have plenty of open space to allow enough standing places during busy times. folding seats in these areas are the best as they get out of the way and allow people to stand when it's busy. of course, regular seats are always needed when it is less busy so a good mix is crucial.

electronic reservation signage on each seat (like in denmark) is very useful and prevents the mess of reservation tickets littered on the seatbacks like in the UK. obviously this is only for long distance trains. i often see the paper tickets removed or having slipped down the slot. then someone sits down and the "owner" of the seat comes to claim the seat. the person sitting there then gets angry as he is made to move out of a seat he didn't know was reserved. it's a bad situation that's easily avoided by a better seat reservation system.

the challenge is to accomodate bicycles, wheelchairs, prams/strollers, etc. this is not easy but necessary.

vandal resistant designs and CCTV are also required for security. materials need to take a lot of abuse. minimalism is key - curtains or blinds are useful only a small percentage of the time but are a maintenance nightmare. better to just tint the windows.

remember features that will be attractive to train operators- not just passengers. eg quick swapping out of broken components, easy/cheap to clean, etc.

most importantly:
most attributes of train design are not universal so make sure you understand the needs/preferences of the local train user. what works or doesn't work here in england may be vastly different from what would work in toronto, LA or hong kong. do many people bring bikes in the target area? are the trains mainly used by commuters jammed in over two 1.5 hour period each day...or by pensioners who use them evenly throughout the day. any project that just includes a lot of nice features but ignores the wants and needs of the target user is deserving of failure.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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I don't care about the seat configuration, but I'd very much like to see some trains in the U.S. that are actually practical to use... like those in Europe.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 04:51 PM
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Things I like:

-Footrests to elevate my feet
-individual reading lights
-electrical outlets
-fold down tables
-decent sized overhead storage bins
-Electonic signs at the front oeach car indicating the next stop
-curtains at the windows
-Hooks in the bathrooms big enough to hang all your stuff off the floor.
-separate arm rests for each passenger

I actually like fabric seats, so you don't slide around, but do like disposable cloth on the headrest area.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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I vote for:

Footrests. They can fold or slide out from below the next seat.

Headrests. I was on an airplane once that had these little fold-out wings that I could lean my head against. Way cool.

Some way to adjust the glare/lower the shade to avoid the bright light outside.

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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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There is a lot wrong with train travel in the US - Amtrak, local commuter trains (suburbs to city) and in-city transit. But seat design comes so far down the list it doesn;t even apapear.

How about -

More trains? (Getting a seat at all on the subway is a triumph during much of the day. I would be happy with more poles to hand onto.)

Trains that run on time - or even close

Convincing riders to pick up after themselves (I truly believe the LIRR is largely inhabited by farm animals)

And Amtrak??? You can't even reach much of the country at all - and it's so slow that you would be far better off hitching in most cases

All of the above need to be fixed before seats matter at all.

I would suggest focusing on a project that might eventually be useful
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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In contrast to walkinaround, who doesn't seem to mind mobile phone conversations, I would like to have a button on the armrest that you could push that would eject mobile phone users several hundred feet in the air, and out of the train altogether.

Nothing is more irritating than being forced to listen to half of a completely moronic conversation.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 07:05 PM
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What I love is that everyone on a cell phone seems to shout.

I don;t know if their phone reception is that bad (I can hear just fine on mine) but most people yodel away - with all sorts of details about their personal lives that no one else wants to know about.

Last week on the train to LI the entire car was forced to listen to one side of a conversation between two young women about the romance between one of them and "Sean".

Two separate people asked the caller to stop yelling - she ignored one and gave the second the finger. Finally one young guy in the back of the car called out very loudly - "Hey baby, he's just not that into you. Who would want a b**** that shrieks all the time?"
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 09:56 PM
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Personally I loved the roomette on Amtrak.

Ellerina you need to go to Japan to study the design and funtionality of the trains -- truly the best system I have even had the pleasure of using.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 04:52 AM
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Trash bins, cup holders, under seat flat storage (like on old fashioned school desks so your stuff is not on the floor - could design so double as a foot rest in front of you).

But my main complaint is noise and cleanliness.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 08:04 AM
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The OP asked about industrial design, not about the system itself.

Most of the amenitities suggestions above would be broken and unoperable within weeks of use.

You would be surprised in public areas what people do to "stuff". I buy materials and storage units, functioning furniture for public space. And you do not want to know what is in fabric or headrests, especially the upholestered.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 01:09 PM
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OP also asked "what do you like/hate about your train travel" and "what features/amenities you wish were there"

As an industrial design student, it is his/her job to find out what we want and then design it so we don't break it.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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If he/she wants to design so that movable or even stationary amenitities will not break, he/she will need a lot more advice than from this kind of forum. He/she would need a materials analysis and chemical/plastics engineering substance knowledge.

We have statuary towel dispensors that actually work well and advance sheets through motion sensors here. They at the very most, last 3 months tops.

Any moving part also would need to have a stationary position that locks and would not be a point of impact threat. There are no seat belts on trains.

I notice that the Metra has coat holders between the windows that hold one coat securely- in a thumb- lock type press- probably a pressure/screw arrangement. Noticed on my last trip downtown that the less than 1 year old cars (new style) had at least a 1/3rd of these broken already.

I think most people desire breathable space and a larger seat area primarily-wider than 18 inch airplane type coach or upper deck stadium seats. And they want an aisle where people can stand/move without bumping into air rests.

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