What’s the future of rail catering? Weiwei He speaks to Railway Interiors International

What’s the future of rail catering? tangerine’s Director China, Weiwei He, was interviewed by Railway Interiors International about the future of the train buffet car.

What food/beverage solutions have featured on your latest projects?

As a strategic partner of CRRC Changchun, the world’s biggest rolling stock manufacturer, tangerine has designed five high-speed trains for the domestic Chinese market and international services over the last year. The catering car has been an area our designers have been closely considering as part of the design projects. We are always looking to create stunning train designs that incorporate the latest innovations, enhance passenger experience and support seamless onboard service. From our experience working in the Chinese market, we have learned about the shifting habits of consumers and innovative new service solutions that operators are adopting.

What trends have you seen in food-service?

Due to the current market standard – offering relatively poor choice, low quality and high prices for food and drink onboard trains – China Rail is trialling a new service tactic to supply food and beverages onboard. Restaurant chains such as KFC and McDonalds, as well as smaller local outlets, register with the service to deliver food to customers. Trials are running at 27 stations across China, allowing people to use an app to pre-order the food of their choice, which is then delivered to the platform and brought straight to the passenger’s seat by onboard staff.

How will these trends influence train design?

This is an example of an innovative service solution that improves the customer experience through added convenience and choice.
This also potentially has profound implications for the physical design of trains. If you no longer need dedicated catering carriages, the space allocated for meal preparation and service can instead be repurposed to accommodate more seats or alternatives such as zones for relaxation or socialising. We think this is a good thing, as operators can concentrate on what they should do best – delivering a world-class train service at a good price, rather than trying, and often failing, to be a good caterer.

Originally published in the Railway Interior international Showcase 2019: