This high-speed Chinese train has an airline-style business class
With rotating lie-flat seats and wireless charging, rail travel has never looked so good!
What do you get when one of the world’s leading airline interior design firms divert its attention to high-speed rail travel? The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics train from CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, is your answer – and it’s a thing of rare beauty.
Developed by London creatives Tangerine, whose past work has included the world’s first lie-flat business class bed and Finnair’s revolutionary new ‘sofa in the sky’, the futuristic train is among the fruits of a five year partnership with the rail company.
Envisioned as a way to raise the quality of all their passenger cars, that partnership resulted in designs for 18 vehicles spanning multiple train types, including high speed, maglev, sleeper cabins, tourist, double-deck and metro cars.
The special Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics train – which welcomed VIPs, media and athletes onboard back in February – features multiple seating options with colour palettes inspired by Chinese heritage, including a staggered ‘business class’ with 18 lie-flat seats.
Resembling a seat you might find onboard Etihad or Singapore Airlines, the private booth includes a comfortable leather recliner, large television screen, and folding timber-look tray table, as well as a seat-side storage compartment and reading lamp.
A cross-cultural collaboration between European and Chinese designers, the project was led by Tangerine China director Weiwei He, who says the references to the aviation industry were deliberate, with China Rail aiming to deliver a comparative experience to regional airlines.
Speaking with DesignWeek, He explains: “The price is comparatively cheaper than business class flying and offers a better experience than on narrow body airlines – more space, better seat comfort, bigger storage provision and a quieter, more private environment.”
“Compared with a regional two- or three-hour flight, the high-speed train can offer a cheaper, greener and more convenient journey in about the same time,” she says.
Tangerine had to overcome several challenges throughout the design process, most notably the local cultural expectation that travel should always be done facing forwards. To deliver on this, all seating was created to rotate 180 degrees for the return journey.
Among the other standouts are a relaxed restaurant and bar area, designed as a communal hub for the train and adorned in a colour scheme inspired by Beijing’s historic Forbidden City.
With the 2022 Winter Games now over, the train has been placed in regular rotation, meaning travellers may still be lucky enough to encounter its sky-high opulence in person.
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30 Jul 2015
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