Design students have some big issues to tackle today, and by 'big' we mean global. Once again undaunted, however, students at the IED Barcelona Design School have set their imaginations to work around an issue that involves not just increasing public mobility, but fighting urban congestion and mitigating climate change. You know, those wee things.

In the school's first collaboration with the leading Spanish manufacturer of intercity, standard, and high-speed passenger trains, Talgo, transportation design students were tasked with revisiting the design of the humble train. In doing so, they asked how designers can make rail transit more people, planet and city-friendly. The answer? A series of clever, good-looking and exceedingly comfortable re-imaginings of the city train of 15 years on.

For three months, Talgo's innovation and product development experts guided the students. Pol Sagués designed the Neural train (top and bottom). Juan Diego Pareja created the Vertal (middle).

The IED students imagined a series of urban rail transport concepts that each offer 'a sort of oasis in the megalopolis of the future.' Their concepts to improve rider experience include interactive and customizable surfaces and carriages that can move both vertically and horizontally, depending on user preference. Eco-friendly elements include savvy electrical systems, hydrogen engines and pollutant-eliminating photocatalytic surfaces.

'We are delighted to discover the ideas of a new generation of creative minds, whose current disruptive designs will be the projects of the future,' said Talgo’s Head of Innovation, Emilio García. 

The projects include GOTIO by Marc Garriga, a new species of self-powered hydrogen tram-bus based on a high-rail system and capable of helping to purify urban air via photocatalysis and distribute filtered air inside the cars. Designed to navigate the city centre, its primary function would be to ease traffic congestion.

The concepts, GOTIO by Marc Garriga (top) and Rebecca Barruera Sanchez' Resilience, considered user experience, accessibility, sustainability and the integration of smart mobility to customize the ride. 

Juan Diego Pareja envisioned Vertal as an unprecedentedly customizable collective smart mobility vehicle equipped with a system that can alter its direction in either a horizontal or vertical direction.

Pol Sagués' Neural is meant to enrich the rider experience through a system of interchangeable platforms that would allow passengers to change from one route to another without actually switching trains. The concept could abbreviate travel times and slash wait times while preserving the highest quality of service.

Rebecca Barrueto conceived Resilience as a way to transform dull, claustrophobic rides into pleasant experiences. It features a digital pane of glass displaying an idyllic landscape, three season and location-suited colour and trim palettes to choose from, and interactive surfaces offering a variety of entertainment. Organic materials like wood and anti-bacterial textiles are intended to evoke nature in order to enhance the well-being of passengers.

For further information, visit IED Barcelona's page dedicated to the Undergraduate Degree in Transportation Design.