GERMANY, November 14, 2017 — In 1964 when Japan introduced the Shinkansen, better known to Americans as the “Bullet Train”, for the Olympic games in Tokyo, the world of ground transportation changed forever. Since that time, both France and Germany have been leaders in high-speed rail technology altering the face of travel throughout Western Europe.
Today, with the advent of the European Union, passengers are now able to cross international borders and visit major destinations in other countries with little more than a rail ticket and their passport, all while being whisked from the city center to city center gliding through breathtaking panoramas at just under 200 mph.
Today’s European train travel hearkens to the golden age of travel where getting to an exotic locale was as much a part of the adventure as the destination itself. In those days rails represented grand suites, champagne, and gourmet cuisine amid the charms of steaming through the countryside in elegant first-class comfort.
Today’s European Trains
Though some of those nostalgic rail journeys still exist, the more contemporary version of riding trains has become a matter of time and convenience with innovations such as the Channel Tunnel and the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland considerably shortening travel times.
Europe is becoming more accessible than ever before.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Germany introduced its newest incarnation of future train transportation last week with the unveiling of the “Ideenzug.”
Unlike high-speed trains, the “Idea Train” will offer state-of-the-art regional services for commuters. The project, which has been in development for years, is still a work in progress, but, as the name suggests, constant alterations and services may well become a permanent feature as German trains consistently adapt to technological advances.
The Idea, or Ideezug, Train
Designed to compete with growing enthusiasm for driverless cars as well as the opening of Germany’s A94 highway connecting Munich with Simbach am Inn in 2019, the Idea Train plans to incorporate a series of innovations that will counter the competition.
Among the offerings, which are still under consideration for practicality and feasibility, Idea Trains currently plan to feature “reservable sports cabins” that include spin bikes and digital personal trainers. There will also be big screen TVs, areas to play video games and “privacy pods” where travelers can rest between stops.
Riders suffering from motion sickness will have access to swivel chairs that face in any direction. This idea has long been a feature of Japanese train services which may have the most diverse collection of train configurations anywhere in the world.
The Idea Train will also incorporate “noise canceling” seats, though European trains are typically quiet in their own right.
Europe and Asia always seeking a better Train
According to Jörg Sandvoss, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn Regio,
“When developing such concepts, it is not about implementing a train with all the creative ideas at once, but rather taking individual approaches into consideration for new trains.”
Apparently, there is no limit to the innovations that available to the visionary creations of luxury rail travel. For example, Japan’s new Suite Train Shiki-Shima offers suites with fireplaces and food prepared by Japan’s first Michelin-starred chef.
Such services have become a daily ritual for Japanese commuters.
In the meantime, Amtrak is attempting to get its trains to arrive and depart on time. One can only hope.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe,
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.