Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Containers as tiny houses on the night train

Night train services are disappearing in Europe, offer hotel rooms on rail
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In Europe, only the Austrian Railways are still investing in night trains, while the German and French railways are claiming this kind of travel becomes too expensive to maintain. It does not make sense to invest again in it, now that the sleeper cars are 30/40 years old and need to be replaced. Unfortunately, the European Union has a policy to invest in high speed trains to connect European cities, not surprisingly in the interest of the countries with high speed train manufacturers: Germany and France. Also the use of rail has become expensive because it is now owned by entities seperated from the railway operators. A political, not an economic, choice.

Travelling by night train has many fans who prefer it to air travel or high speed trains. If you want to start your day in another city (be it for business or pleasure) you now have to either travel early in the morning with the first flight or fast train. If you like to sleep properly you need to travel in the evening and book a hotel room at your destination.

Would it not be great if you could book your hotel room on rail? Especially if these night trains do not depart at regular train stations but from specialised private train stations in the outskirts. At some point during the day you check in. In the station there is a lobby with a restaurant and all the things you expect from a hotel. Before midnight you need to be in your room which then travels slowly to the next city around 500 to 800 kilometers further. Not fast, but you will wake up around 8 o'clock at your destination. You can check out immediately or continue sleeping as much as you want that morning. No need to disembark with all your luggage in a few minutes, you can take hours if you want.

You could also book your hotel room for another night and continue your journey, similar to how the internet protocol works, your hotel room is then like a data package that switches at stations instead of routers. At every station your hotel room is unloaded and spends a day before you travel again at night, allowing you to be a tourist there during the day.

The hotel room fits the flat car for intermodal standardised 20 foot/6 meters container transport. These can be hired commecially, with a locomotive that is adapted to the different security systems in use in Europe.

Because of the modular approach each hotel room has maximum autonomy. Water, electricity, water waste-facility is all on board. When a module needs maintenance or repairs the entire train does not have to wait for it. A fork lift truck takes the module apart. Water can be heated up with solar power on the roof or added at the station. At the station elecricity comes from the network, but while in transit a low voltage circuit can be powered by wind, feeding consumer electronics like phones and tablets. The inside of the container is a plastic mold which intelligently absorps the shocks of the railroad, currently a major complaint about night trains.

Once there is a stable and strong design for these hotel rooms on rail, individuals can also buy them, like they would buy caravans to hook behind their car. Because of the modular design they can even pay a premium to have the hotel room transported to a camping site. Some members of the 'tiny house movement' might even want to live in one as their 'tiny house'.

Seasonal overcapacity can be compensated by renting out these hotel rooms as so called 'tiny houses' to for example students. Or they could be shipped to another continent where seasonal demand increases.

Much like the budget airlines that outcompeted the traditional national airline companies, the business model for this relies for a big part on the extras to be sold at the station. With the difference that in this case it's not about selling peanuts and extra luggage weight. Instead, the stations can develop as destinations in their own right with whatever makes the travellers check in earlier and check out later and spend time and money. Personally, I would like to hire my bicycle from them. I don't mind if there is live music, restaurants, cinema's, hot tubs, swimming pools, valet parking and what not. As long as the hotel room on rails itself is moderately priced, like a regular hotel room. The industrial zone the station is probably located in can keep real estate costs down.

rrr, Jun 06 2017

An ode to the night train http://www.politico...e-public-transport/
How Brussels killed the night train according to Politico [rrr, Jun 06 2017]

Passenger night trains in Europe: the end of the line? - Railway Gazette http://www.railwayg...port-published.html
European Parliament asked for a report on how to save night trains [rrr, Jun 06 2017]

Containerized Passenger Service Containerized_20Passenger_20Service
[hippo, Jun 06 2017]

petition for this idea https://nachttreine...ities.nl/?locale=en
Night trains in Europe petition [rrr, Jun 16 2017]

Hyperloop Hotel http://edition.cnn....igh-tech/index.html
Similar approach, but containers in hyperloop, not by night train (6 slides) [rrr, Jun 23 2017]

Cabin Technologies, Bus with sleep pods http://www.npr.org/...s-replace-airplanes
A bus between LA and SF, a slighly related concept, same target group [rrr, Aug 06 2017]

[link]






       Sounds like a civilised way to travel
hippo, Jun 06 2017
  

       Yes, the airlines will hate it.
8th of 7, Jun 06 2017
  

       Houses in the UK already move at about 900mph. The real problem is to get everywhere else to stay still so we can catch up with it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 06 2017
  

       ([Max] A pedantic clarification: Everything moves at a speed of c, all the time, through spacetime. For some things though, the vector of movement is all in the direction of the 'time' axis (e.g. trains), with very little movement in space, and for other things the vector is all in the direction of the 'space' axis (e.g. photons), with almost no movement in time.)
hippo, Jun 06 2017
  

       Well, yes, but the problem remains the same: Germany, Belgium and even some of the more advanced parts of France also move through time at the same rate as England. So the gap remains.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 06 2017
  

       The Caledonian Sleeper is currently investing in new stock.   

       Problem here is economics, you can fit fewer modular rooms than you can passengers in cabins.   

       Once you have a modular room, and autonomous car tech, why bother with the train? The room just navigates its way to the destination.
pocmloc, Jun 06 2017
  

       // also move through time at the same rate as England //   

       Interestingly though, New Zealand is almost exactly 50 years 12 hours behînd GMT.
8th of 7, Jun 06 2017
  

       The economics here could be a bit dicey, but I like the overall idea. I would, however, as a matter of practicality and safety, keep the water / power / etc sources with the train flat car, and require the passengers to disembark upon a changeover.
RayfordSteele, Jun 06 2017
  

       [+] and + [hippo]s anno.
FlyingToaster, Jun 06 2017
  

       I wonder about the cost. Just the extra car management services will be a rail sTrain.
Voice, Jun 06 2017
  

       //50 years 12 hours behînd//
That's a bit harsh.
  

       It is, at most, 47 years behind...
neutrinos_shadow, Jun 06 2017
  

       //The Caledonian Sleeper is currently investing in new stock// - [calum]'s restocking his shop?
hippo, Jun 06 2017
  

       This is a lovely idea. I would enjoy traveling this way. I hope it would be dirt cheap too, just like me! (Hey [rrr], good to see you again. Been awhile.)
blissmiss, Jun 08 2017
  

       As long as they take the form of little tin houses with rusting roofs, like a shanty town on rails. (this is an idea I drew up years ago for a mobile favela to run paralell to the Orient Express)
xenzag, Jun 09 2017
  

       There should be a special pirate edition of the Orient Express — the Orient Arrr.
Ian Tindale, Jun 17 2017
  

       Three tickets for First Class please, [Ian].
pertinax, Jun 17 2017
  

       // little tin houses with rusting roofs, like a shanty town on rails. //   

       TransPennine Express are seeking funding to upgrade their passenger accomodation to this. Apparently their existing stock of open cattle trucks that they bought from the Liverpool & Manchester Railway are getting to the end of their service lives.
8th of 7, Aug 06 2017
  
      
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