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What we learned from RedCabin's Railway Interior Innovation Summit


Picture of author Julia Fitzgerald

By: Julia Fitzgerald, Senior Account Manager


Having recently returned from my fourth RedCabin summit, it was clear that the conversations around improving passenger experience are still very much alive. The event saw rail professionals from around the world head to Montreal to discuss the latest innovations in railway cabin interiors at the first summit for 2024, and it didn't disappoint.


At its biggest rail summit to date, the Alstom-hosted event showcased the latest developments in the industry and connected the most forward-thinking engineers, designers and manufacturers. On the agenda were dedicated roundtables and working group sessions for expert speakers and industry leaders to share insights and commentary that reinforced why the railway interiors market continues to grow.


The future of the passenger experience remains front of mind. Trending topics included 'innovation meets sustainability' and 'ensuring the customer experience guides our choices', highlighting the ongoing need to make interiors accessible for all. 

Back to Basics

One of the key areas of discussion was getting the basics right in train carriages. Through panels and roundtables, improvements continue to be made to railway cabin's form and function, and experts are instrumental in highlighting changes in the interests of people with reduced mobility or those with visual or auditory impairments at the design stage. The specific needs of passengers remain a big part of the innovation process, with flooring, lighting and seat design all forming part of the conversations.


Making cabins both comfortable and accessible for all travellers is an ongoing priority for the industry, and the need for innovation was reflected in the summit's survey of delegates. Seating and flooring were both highlighted by respondents as in need of improvement, with recycled and lightweight materials also important so that cabin sustainability regulations and expectations are met.


With planning for the future of long-distance rail travel in the US well underway, it was a key topic at the summit; the need to update cabins for the travellers and needs of today is clear. Dedicated accessible storage, more accessible lavatories and greater use of display and audio technology to provide announcements so that everyone has access were all highlighted as industry priorities. 


Image of German train in a train station, with passengers walking along the platform
Image: Unsplash.com/Daniel Abadia

Sustainability


The rail industry has now embraced the importance of creating a more sustainable future. This topic appeared in numerous discussions, with leaders from multiple sectors questioning what the critical next steps are and how best to address them.


Sustainability in the cabin remains a priority, with this year's agenda including a panel discussion on how innovation meets sustainability. Experts from Metzo shared the company's new progressive PU graphite foam to lead the ESG agenda in the industry, and hosts Alstom also held a working group to show how choices in colours and materials matter. 


What comes next?


Following the success of this summit, it's clear that challenges caused by complex regulations are still a concern within the industry. However, with collaboration between industry players on the rise, so were conversations about overcoming the hurdles that experts face when working collaboratively to improve the passenger experience.


Innovation in railway interiors will continue to prioritise the passenger experience while ensuring that the railway cabin design process incorporates sustainability and accessibility in future plans. Dedicated modules for work, socialising, and relaxation are the future of long-distance travel, with plans already in place for innovation in 2024 and beyond. It's all ready to be explored again at the next RedCabin rail summit later this year in Dusseldorf








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