For his M.A. thesis in industrial design, Norwegian designer Thomas Larsen Røed worked with a forward-looking transportation initiative known as the Scandinavian 8 Million City. Backed by governments at the local, regional and national levels, as well as the EU, the project is a detailed proposal for a high-speed rail corridor that runs south from Oslo down the Swedish coastline to Copenhagen, Denmark. Between the two capital cities and two Swedish metropolises in between—Göteborg and Malmö—the 600km span is home to some eight million residents (over 40% of the total population of Scandinavia) and the similarly significant percentage of the region's business and commercial interests.
The website is a bit short on information in English, but a 44-page PDF provides plenty of context and data to the proposal for the "Corridor of Innovation and Cooperation" (COINCO for short). The document makes a strong case to build a multinational high-speed rail line by 2025 site, for which Røed has developed an original train design. In his own words:
I want to contribute to the HSR vision through industrial design and this diploma project. The aim is to create a HSR concept based on Scandinavian values. This includes a focus on exterior design and building a brand identity foundation. By materializing all the ideas and reports that already exist, I believe people will find the whole vision of a Scandinavian HSR more tangible and realistic, which hopefully would make them express their support—something that is essential when trying to realize a big project like this.
By exploring Scandinavian values and identity, I want to create a concept with a distinct form and expression where technical aspects and requirements of the design meet Scandinavian culture and identity.
Just to create and/or contribute to the debate of future mobility would be a valuable end result—and for this reason, the concept might benefit from being somewhat provocative rather than a generic high-speed train.
He notes that the optimal range for High Speed Rail is 250–900km, making it an ideal option for the 600km between Oslo and Copenhagen, and the fact that it is nine times more efficient than air travel and four times more efficient than car. In addition to citing feasibility and efficiency studies, Røed's report also includes his ethnographic research and strategic ideation that ultimately resulted in his concept for "Linjen," Scandinavian for "the line."
Linjen is the vision of a Scandinavian high-speed rail. It aims to create enthusiasm and debate in the public, something that will push the politicians to make decisions in favour of a high-speed rail network. To do this, a concept of exterior design and brand strategy has been created to produce realistic and exciting visualizations.
Besides the primary research, the visual identity and design process also fell within the broad purview of Røed's comprehensive proposal. Yet industrial design considerations are paramount:
Most striking in the design is the high risen ends, showing confidence to shrug of the hard weather of the north. The form portrays a vehicle shaped by the forces of nature, something also reflected by the use of copper. This material will change through time, first to darker red and later to the characteristic green patina. This will give an extremely strong identity to the product and brand, and differentiate the Scandinavian high-speed rail from any other network out there.
We wish Røed and his COINCO cohorts the best of luck in realizing their vision!
The final model