Eliminating open-plan seating and having all cars be compartments

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TheCrescent

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With Covid, I don’t want to be in a train car with air circulating among dozens of people. And I never liked the handful of cell phone loudmouths on any train.

For these reasons, why not eliminate open-plan seating and make all coaches into cars with compartments?

European railroads have long done this. I recall Belgian commuter trains even having this in the early 1990s.

Plus couldn’t compartments be transformed into couchette cars at night? Surely that’s more appealing than seats at night.

Thanks for letting me stand on my soapbox for a bit.
 

jiml

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Although some European trains have had compartments historically and some still do, one does not necessarily get a whole compartment to themselves. You run the risk of being seated with someone with any of the issues you suggested without the ability to simply move to another seat. We travelled in a compartment on DB in Germany two years ago (fairly new ICE train) and had to start by evicting the loud "self-upgraders" in our seats. We shared the compartment with various other people during the lengthy trip - some of whom were on cellphones frequently. Their conversations might actually have been less "in your face" in coach than in the enclosed space.
 

Trogdor

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Perhaps *some* European railroads have done this. I’ve done a handful of train trips around Europe and have only been in such a coach car once, and, IIRC, that was an older piece of equipment. The high-speed trains definitely don’t.
 

Cal

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With Covid, I don’t want to be in a train car with air circulating among dozens of people. And I never liked the handful of cell phone loudmouths on any train.

For these reasons, why not eliminate open-plan seating and make all coaches into cars with compartments?

European railroads have long done this. I recall Belgian commuter trains even having this in the early 1990s.

Plus couldn’t compartments be transformed into couchette cars at night? Surely that’s more appealing than seats at night.

Thanks for letting me stand on my soapbox for a bit.
Why not instead of re-designing all of our cars, just try to get a better air system?

And air travel is much worse, as airlines are selling out their planes.
 

SarahZ

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With Covid, I don’t want to be in a train car with air circulating among dozens of people. And I never liked the handful of cell phone loudmouths on any train.

For these reasons, why not eliminate open-plan seating and make all coaches into cars with compartments?
How do you see this working on the busy corridor trains (NEC, Michigan Services, etc.)?
 

jiml

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I believe they are just space for business people to have a private conversation, not for everyone. That is why there aren't so many of them.
I defer to your knowledge of German trains. I guess as a couple of normal North American tourists we were very fortunate to be assigned them for 3 out of our 4 segments on our last trip there.
 

AFS1970

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Even with small compartments, and even if they were mostly private, there is still only one air handling system for the car, not a unit for each compartment. Airflow is reduce but not eliminated between areas.
 

MisterUptempo

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I don't see the need to get too radical here. Why not just upgrade the air filtration system in the railcars? If Metra can manage it, Amtrak should.

High-tech air purification system to be installed on Metra railcars

(March 17, 2021) -
As part of its continued efforts to create safety and build rider confidence, Metra is significantly upgrading the ventilation system on its railcars with a new three-stage filtration and purification process, the agency announced today. The new system uses ultraviolet light, electrical fields and stronger filters to create the safest possible environment for its customers. Leading the way, Metra is among the first agencies to adopt such a comprehensive system for its railcars.
The new system is expected to remove and eliminate 99 percent of all airborne particulates, bacteria and viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Metra already refreshes the air every four minutes and uses hospital-grade MERV 13 filters on its train cars; the new system will be the equivalent to or better than MERV 17 or HEPA standards.
Here's a link to the full story.

With that, and getting the man-children to wear masks and get vaccinated, that should take care of any lingering COVID concerns.

Regarding the cell phone loudmouths, compartment seating is no guarantee you won't be seated with rude, oblivious people. Unless, of course, you were to purchase all the seats in the compartment. Also, do the compartments recycle only the air within, or is the air from all the compartments collected, filtered and redistributed among them? I honestly don't know.
 

jis

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Also worth mentioning are some of the newer ICE trains have many more compartments, so @TheCrescent may be onto a trend - at least in Europe. I haven't seen one of these in-person yet, but they sure look interesting.

View attachment 21294
Needless to say, those compartments won’t have much effect on the spread of COVID. 😐
 

dlagrua

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It is said that being outside reduces the chance of Covid infection so I would say that outside air circulation on the trains is beneficial. The doors open at all stops which also lets in fresh air. Its different from being on a plane where everyone is in a pressure sealed capsule all breathing the same air. When I used to fly I can't tell you how many colds I contracted.
 

caravanman

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I have travelled on many of the older style European coaches with the compartments that seat six people with a side corridor, and also some high speed TGV that had the small 4 person compartments in 1st class.
You will be seated facing others, so maybe not so good for reducing virus transmission?
I believe in Europe that the modern way is towards having more open coaches, rather than the opposite.
Getting all folks vaccinated and behaving sensibly around others seems the proper way to respond to infectious diseases, but it probably won't reduce inconsiderate cell phone use! :)
PS Just wondering if the coach seating plan shown above is from "The Man in Seat 61" website... ;)
 

TheCrescent

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Thanks, everyone.

So maybe the solution for my concerns is to have a few compartments in first-class cars, for cell phone users, and to have the rest of the car as open seating, as quiet zone?
 

jiml

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PS Just wondering if the coach seating plan shown above is from "The Man in Seat 61" website... ;)
It's actually from the instruction page for DB's "How to book" page. I quickly Googled DB seating plan for an illustration that their high-speed trains indeed have compartments. That said, Mark (Seat 61) Smith is a great resource. Although I was a fairly experienced British rail traveller when we decided to try out German trains for the first time, I found his web pages incredibly complete and informative. I even reached out to him via email with a few unanswered questions and he graciously responded. When we returned for our rail tour of the Netherlands and other parts of Germany a couple of years ago I was an "old pro";), although much more credit goes to DB's easy-to-use English website.
 

caravanman

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I thought it probably a coincidence, but that it might raise a chuckle with those "in the know" about the seat 61 website. Indeed, it is a hugely valuable world wide train travel resource.
I fully agree about DB's website, I have used that several times myself.
 

RovinMoses

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It is said that being outside reduces the chance of Covid infection so I would say that outside air circulation on the trains is beneficial. The doors open at all stops which also lets in fresh air. Its different from being on a plane where everyone is in a pressure sealed capsule all breathing the same air. When I used to fly I can't tell you how many colds I contracted.
An airplane is not really a "sealed" capsule. It is pressurized, but the air filtration system on new aircraft brings in outside air and almost all modern jets have HEPA filters and recycle all the air every three minutes. However, cold viruses can still be transmitted on surfaces or by a passenger seated next to you. In addition, the possibility of picking up a virus in the airport is high especially during pre-covid days when waiting areas, dining areas, and airplanes were packed. Coronavirus study finds air on planes is safer than homes or operating rooms
 
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west point

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By the time any compartments could be installed Covid-19 will be history. in the case its not the whole world will be in chaos.
 

jis

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Why not instead of re-designing all of our cars, just try to get a better air system?

And air travel is much worse, as airlines are selling out their planes.
Since we keep talking about risk of air travel, I thought I would provide a few citations that touch on the subject from trustworthy publications:



When one throws in the fact that most reputable airlines are very good at enforcing mask rules on board, and a larger and larger proportion of passengers are either COVID recovered or vaccinated (almost 25% of the population in the US has received at least one shot as of 3/21/21), the risks of air travel are not particularly daunting any more and reducing every day.

Same is of course also true more or less, of train travel.
 

20th Century Rider

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In order for compartment seating to be effective against covid it would have to individual or per couple or per group traveling together. Not cost effective and not going to happen in the US. As stated earlier, it could take years to develop such a car. The only alternative are the roomettes we have now on LD routes.

Hopefully with the massive vaccination program we will begin to approach normal by the end of summer.

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