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Inter-city rail services increasingly define themselves in terms of comparison to airlines. Take for instance the Chinese attendants recruited for the countries new Beijing-Shanghai ‘bullet-train’ route. The 403 women inductees look like classic air stewardess material and have gone through a similar kind of polishing process. The Chinese describe these attendees as ‘high-speed sisters’ 高姐. Find out more at the Shanghaist
In the UK, you don’t have to look far for the aspiration of flight, rows of seats where you are not facing people are called ‘airline-style seats’ on the online ticket booking service and First Great Western even have gone to the trouble of recreating the airline safety card attached to the seat and a little fold-down drinks table.
Virgin Trains have provided an integrated points system with other aspects of their business including Virgin Travel and Virgin Atlantic – their airline. Thankfully the airline doesn’t have the kind of odours that its train toilets seem to have, even when spotless.
The problem is that the actual experience isn’t like an airline in most cases, its bumpy and lurches from side-to-side on older parts of the track. At least Virgin has its Pendolino trains that lean into a turn and smooth out the side to side movement. On occasion Virgin’s tilting trains can make the walk to the buffet car like a simulation of being under the influence. And the overall ambiance of trains in the UK, if it did meet the aspiration of flight standard is generally more Ryanair than Singapore Airlines.
Instead of aping airlines with an aspiration of flight, why not emphasis what the trains don’t have like laborious security checks and having to spend hours in the crap department store concessions that now pass for airside lounges in the UK? More related content can be found here.