Envisage believe this could be the future in double-decker rail travel experience

Year: 2011
Client: Autodesk
World Train Concept

Elcano is one part of Envisage Design  ‘Air’ series of projects that explore transportation futures. ‘Air’ outlines our advanced vision of progress in the Aerospace, Rail and Marine transport sectors.

Design FL presents a 21st century concept that operates on a constant ‘Grand Tour’. A double-decked train designed for ultimate speed, luxury and experience. Travelling between global cities on a network of high speed rail lines developed to span the globe. It cruises the land allowing travellers to experience the globes rich landscapes. The future trend for power sabbaticals is serviced.

Elcano’s convenience is unmatched; travelling direct to the heart of each city, no time is wasted spent waiting. Passengers can travel the route in a matter or weeks hopping cities from London to Beijing, before transferring by air to San Francisco to cross America to New York, or they may choose to stay longer at each destination to explore and relax further. Journeys are treated as if part of the daily routine, with trains travelling between destinations during breakfast, lunch or dinner. The onboard restaurants serve local food and drink on a constantly evolving gastronomic journey that pays homage to every location. Elcano exists as a void to be fully filled by the environment that surrounds it. Passengers can tune in to rolling commentaries or use augmented reality that depicts the history and culture at every turn.

The experience is completed by luxury hotels and concierge facilities at each hub, with baggage being loaded and unloaded on the passengers’ behalf and transferred to their hotel accommodation. Everything will be serviced by the operator leaving you to get on with exploring wherever you may be.

Elcano’s interior has been configured to dramatically increase the feelings of light and space that are often lacking in train interiors. The entrances have been located at the centre of carriages allowing seating spaces to flow across carriage ends, through the bellows. The upper levels with their mezzanine ends appear to float weightlessly within the exterior form with light spilling out from the gap between to emphasise the effect. A unique double height atrium and continuous spaces define the interior architecture.

Five seating situations have been envisaged within the design to give maximum flexibility and choice to its passengers. At the front of the train the drivers’ cabin sits low in the nose. Ascending floor levels behind afford passengers in the forward observatory equal right to the stunning wide panoramas ahead. The upper levels feature large glazed domes to maximise the passing vistas. Restaurant style seating here fully realises the dining experience, service is provided from a central island that incorporates a small bar and dummy waiter to bring food up to the upper level. Sky lounges can also be found on the upper levels. These represent the ultimate in terms of space, luxury and relaxation with seats that recline to zero-g and feature a suite of integrated technology.

On the lower level booths can be used to plan the next days’ itinerary, touch bases with home using integrated computing and media or simply relax in privacy. A more traditional three-abreast seating situation can also be found with tables for groups of two or four under the canopy of the upper levels.

Elcano is part of our low carbon future. The exterior of the train has a striking, fluid form language, modelled on the aerodynamically efficient bullet trains in Japan. This will allow it to travel at speeds of over 200mph effortlessly. High Speed rail will undoubtedly provide a convenient service in the future, but speed alone does not fulfil its promise. We believe that a greater focus on leisure will be key to its success as the virtues of a service such as this are unmatched by other modes of transport. The economies of providing this service are bolstered by the ability of the operator to charge fares based on providing a hotel and catering service alongside the travel aspect. The ideas behind Elcano are by no means new, but its global perspective is.