Railroad panoramas

I don’t drive. I tried to get my driver’s license several times, but I failed. The main reason is quite ironic. My control of the car was up to standards, but all the examiners stated that I lacked the perceptual abilities to safely navigate traffic. At that moment, I had spend almost half of my life studying visual perception. That knowledge apparently does not transfer to my visual skills at all.

So, I mostly travel by train. Call me European, but I love traveling by train. I also much prefer it over traveling by car. The view from the train is so much better than the view from the passenger seat. The vantage point is much higher and the tracks are somehow more integrated in the environment than highways are. In general, the experience of staring out of the window and following your own train of thoughts is just great.

I always wondered why train compartments do not have windowed roofs to further increase the experience. It turns out those type of trains actually exist; they are called “dome cars” and have first been built in the 1880s in the USA. If you want to get a sense of that experience, you may want to watch the video Dome Car Magic. Trains with dome cars are still operational in the United States, Canada, and Panama.

What about Europe? As far as I know, there exists only one train that has a dome car. It is the Rheingold that was riding along the river Rhine between Hoek van Holland near Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Basel (Switzerland). It was operational between 1928 and 1987, except for an interval of about 10 years due to World War II.

Actually, you can still experience it today. You can charter a modernized version of the Rheingold – the dome car is optional. Yes that’s right, you can rent it and direct it to wherever you want to go in Europe. Unfortunately, the relevant Deutsche Bahn webpage does not contain a price list. For now, I think I will stick to 2nd class.

Published by Stijn Oomes

Vision Scientist | Lecturer Artificial Intelligence

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