This story originally featured on Travelandleisure.com.
Europe is fortunate to have many options for visitors to get around, from planes and trains to automobiles and bikes. This heavy competition for travelers has led Europe's railway companies to pay close attention to the passenger experience, offering options that are far more pleasant than flying and often just as efficient.
The new Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB Intercity day and Nightjet overnight trains, currently under development, were designed by Priestmangoode, London. The firm also designs airline cabins and even has plans to make hyperloop travel comfortable, but the ÖBB trains gave designers more room to get creative and they put that room to very good use.
What makes the ÖBB trains special, when compared to other of Europe's transport choices, is that they were designed to make passengers feel at home, with living room quality furnishings, breathtaking views of Europe on large panoramic windows, comfortable sleeping compartments, all the tools you need for work or play, and flexible dining options.
ÖBB wanted the perfect blend of cosy and high-tech, and Priestmangoode delivered.
“It's easier to break up the carriage than an aircraft cabin so you can make different zones far easier,” said Daniel MacInnes, associate director Priestmangoode. “You can have an economy carriage on a train and have three or four different types of seating areas. You don't get that on an aircraft cabin. You have opportunity to do something quite different. That works in first class as well. You have double seats, and single seats and face to face seating. It's more sociable than everyone sat facing forward.”
The ÖBB trains will also have a special private compartment where families or groups can have a conversation, meeting or play games together. It features see-through walls, so that passengers don't feel confined.
The sleeping compartment will offer four options to suit singles, couples, and families.
“There is the pod where you have your own bed, your own space and a closed off compartment. It's like a Japanese capsule hotel,” MacInnes said. The capsules have lockers between them for storing personal items. “The next is a more family-based room. You can be with other people, or book the whole space as a group. The step up from that is the first class pod where a couple can be traveling together and you get a bathroom en suite.”
There will be different options for dining, too, according to passengers' moods. In addition to a vending machine offering quick snacks that passengers can enjoy at their seats, the restaurant will offer a mix of seating from cafeteria-style benches or face-to-face restaurant dining, with plenty of scenery on the side.
The trains are designed for modern travelers and will also be high-tech with convenient charging spots for electronic devices. Seats feature two separate trays which allow passengers to watch entertainment on their tablets while enjoying a meal or getting some work done — all without having to worry over spilled coffee.
There is also couple's seating available, with a pull-up armrest that converts the seat into a sofa for couples who want to get cozy or singles who want to spread out.
One of the cleverest features for those traveling around Europe is nearly invisible. Priestmangoode designed the seats in economy class so that they are slightly raised, allowing passengers to place their luggage underneath and between seats, instead of having to reach up to store heavy luggage.
There is also room onboard for storing bicycles and skiing equipment — some destinations even accommodate motorbikes — so travelers will be ready to go wherever they finally step off.
Destinations on the ÖBB Nightjet train include major cities in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, so travelers can enjoy the best of the Alps and beyond. Nightjet partners also offer onward connections to Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The new ÖBB Nightjet trains with sleeper suites will take to the rails in 2021, but the current Nightjet trains offer the same amazing views.