ÖBB Austrian Federal Railways
PriestmanGoode worked in close collaboration with ÖBB Austrian Federal Railways on interior designs for its Intercity day train, as well as its Nightjet overnight services – the most comprehensive network of night trains in Europe.
With high competition from new railway companies as well as airline businesses, ÖBB was looking to differentiate itself from other operators. The strategy was to deliver new improved interiors, both across Intercity day trains and Nightjet night train services, with a renewed focus on customer experience. Moreover, ÖBB wanted to use its Nightjet service to recreate the sense of adventure associated with the heyday of continental rail travel. Our aim was also to design something that looked and felt representative of Austria, designing a new rail offer that had a distinct sense of place and a clear identity that reflected Austrian cultural and craft heritage.
With a strong customer experience focus, the starting point was for our team to immerse themselves in the ÖBB passenger experience, undertaking ethnographic field research to understand passenger motivations, behaviours and challenges. These first hand accounts rooted in real life experiences, combined with a number of ideation workshops with the design and customer experience teams at ÖBB, allowed us to develop a range of innovations for both exteriors and interiors, including wider entrances, low level and flexible luggage storage systems, improved comfort seating and multi-use spaces. Additional focus was placed on increasing privacy and enabling connectivity, with charging points on each seat, allowing passengers to use personal devices for both leisure and business throughout the length of their journey. We also designed new family/business berths, allowing groups to sit together, and a new restaurant carriage with multi-use areas for bike and ski storage.
In addition to these developments for the Intercity day trains, significant improvements were made to the operator’s night train services. ÖBB runs the most comprehensive network of night trains in Europe, and at a time when other operators were cancelling services, Austrian Federal Railways had the foresight to invest in this service, anticipating future passenger demand for more environmentally friendly means of continental travel. Here, our experience of designing luxury aircraft suites, micro hotels and cruise ship cabins proved invaluable. We were able to create a range of options, from sleeping pods for budget travellers, to First class sleeper compartments for couples, with a bed that converts into a seating area, as well as an en-suite shower, the new Night trains offer passengers an affordable, comfortable and sustainable option for 21st century train travel.
“It’s about a particular quality of travelling…
Comfortably, safely, without traffic congestion; depart in the evening, arrive relaxed in the morning”.
ANDREAS MATTHÄ, ÖBB CHIEF EXECUTIVE
ON THE NIGHTJET SERVICE
RedCabin Rail Interiors Awards 2023 – Project Collaboration of the Year