World-renowned French designer Thierry Gaugain is one of the most sought-after names when it comes to the design of yachts and private jets. He has worked on these extraordinary vehicles for over 30 years, but now, Gaugain has ventured away from yachts and planes to create something new: The G Train. A culmination of his lifetime of work, The G Train is Gaugain’s newest design concept, which brings together design and technology to create the world’s first private luxury train.
“The G Train is a palace on rails, which will be the wedding of luxury and technology,” Gaugain says. “It’s not a train of the past – it will be designed for the future and technologically advanced.” The new locomotive will be an astonishing 1,300 ft long, featuring 14 cars enclosed in a technologically advanced smart glass that will allow the exterior to move from opaque to transparent, depending on the owner’s preferences.
Not only this, but the G Train will be an exclusive prize. “It will be for one unique owner,” Gaugain reveals. “It will be made to measure to match the expectation and desire of the owner, the same way mega-yachts are designed today. Once we have an owner – who I expect will be conscious of the uniqueness of the train and who is ready to reinvent their life – construction would take roughly two years. We’re ready to push the green button, it’s feasible.”
For Gaugain, designing the G Train has come from a lifelong passion. “It’s a dream I’ve had from childhood,” he says. “For me, it was kind of natural… I think that when traveling by train, there is always something to discover and to see. That’s not the case with other means of travel. One of the most important things is that trains allow you to master your time.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the project, Gaugain admits that it is also one of the most challenging designs he has worked on. “It’s extremely challenging because nothing like it has existed before,” he says. “There is no background to draw from. The only existing luxury trains are those from the past, like the Orient Express. Meanwhile, private planes or mega yachts have a structure that everybody knows how to do.”
Development of the project started four years ago, in order for Gaugain and his team to ensure that the proposal for the project was viable. Several of the world’s best engineers and architects were involved from the beginning, including French glass producer Saint-Gobain (producing the smart glass for the train’s exterior) and Swiss train manufacturer Stadler, which Gaugain says is “the only manufacturer capable of building a technical marvel like the G Train.”
The proposed layout splits the train into two sections. The front half features the owner’s private accommodation and an entertainment carriage; this particular car has wings that can fold down, opening out on either side of the car to form alfresco terraces capable of accommodating up to 150 guests. Within the back half, are the guest suites and guest salon as well as crew accommodation. There is also a carriage designed to store cars, motorbikes, and other small vehicles for adventure and exploration.
The locomotive has a top speed of around 100 miles per hour, but for Gaugain, the train isn’t about speed; it’s unlikely to be traveling on high-speed networks. “Most likely it will take secondary tracks so that it can discover different places,” he says. “It’s about making the journey and living in a moving piece of art. The idea of the G Train is to reconnect with that sense of beauty, of time passing, and the experience of going on a journey.”
The luxurious train has space to welcome up to 18 overnight visitors across the cars that have been transformed into the owner’s private accommodation and the guest suites. Another completely unique quality of the G Train is that its four locomotives will be made bespoke; they are able to adapt to railways across Europe, into Russia, Asia and North Africa or – for an owner across the Atlantic – the full length of northern American railways.
If this wasn’t enough, the project is also inherently sustainable. “By its very nature, there is very little energy consumption from a train,” Gaugain explains. “We plan to use a hybrid solution for the G Train, balancing electric hydrogen with diesel-electric engines. This also depends on if the tracks it is running are electrified or not. Either way, the G Train will adapt, keeping in mind the very low ecological impact that it creates.”
Ultimately, Gaugain hopes that this project will pave the way for the future of journeys – not travel, he specifies, but the journey itself. “Your arrival point won’t be the purpose for traveling on this train,” he says. “The purpose will be to find yourself and to have quality time onboard. Being on the G Train allows you to move at a slower pace. It is a universe of its own, but at the same time, you are always connected to something.”