This week at LUXAVO we take a look at a case study of a different kind. We visit Mexico to see how Control4 integrated its amazing technology into “El Chepe”, The Smart Train.
LUXAVO are Ireland’s leading authorised dealer for Control4. LUXAVO specialise in designing, programming and installing Control4 technology into primarily residential, commercial and marine building and renovation projects, with systems that deliver power and performance in terms of integrated control. From time to time our team of system design consultants are asked to design integrated technology for unusual types of projects. There are no bounds to the places you might experience the added convenience, luxury and energy savings that our control systems deliver.
The Chihuahua al Pacifico (“El Chepe” for short), Mexico’s Copper Canyon rail-road, is among the world’s most spectacular train journeys. One of only two passenger routes in the country, this 650 km (404 mile) “ride in the sky” takes 13 hours to wind its way north-eastward along the Sierra Tarahumara (part of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range). The journey runs from Los Mochis on the northwest coast to Chihuahua in central northern Mexico, rising from sea level to almost 2,500 meters (8,000 feet) at its highest point. Onboard you will pass waterfalls and towering canyons, forests, deserts, valleys, tunnels and you will cross breath-taking bridges.
A masterpiece of engineering, this railway was designed by American civil engineer Albert Kimsey Owen in 1861 and was finally completed, 100 years later, in 1961. State owned for 50 years, in 1998 it was privatized by giant rail conglomerate Ferromex, the bulk of whose business comes from freight transportation and who it is fair to say did not strategically prioritise “El Chepe”. So as a result, by 2017 the train was looking dated, was well worn and was definitely in need of some TLC. This train is held with great affection by both the owners and the public, so the company decided it was time to make the train as sumptuous inside as the view from the windows.
Wowed by smart technology presented by Control4, the rail giant was intrigued to find out whether and how it could be adapted for El Chepe. It wanted to offer passengers not just a comfortable ride, but the ability to enhance their journey with information that would give them an even deeper appreciation of the experience.
ON TRACK TO AUTOMATION
Control4 explained all the technologies they could potentially deploy— everything from individual passenger screens with a selection of movies and TV shows to seat-mounted controls for the window blinds, however much of the technology would have been unnecessary as when passengers ride El Chepe, they’re there to enjoy the view. They don’t necessarily want distractions.
The owners, Ferromex, knew that what passengers did want, however, was an informative guide to their journey. There are so many stories to tell about the route—from the geological formation of the gold-and-green Copper Canyon, to tales of the shy indigenous Rarámuri people who dwell in remote villages high in the canyons and can reportedly run for hours up near-vertical slopes. Could Control4 México help Ferromex bring these and other trip-enriching stories to life for passengers? In short, yes - by using a technology known as “geofencing,” the train would know when it had passed from one part of the route to another and trigger relevant videos to be shown automatically on screens in each of the rail cars.
Meanwhile, Ferromex, who had their own in-house expertise to create a compelling range of audiovisual content to bring the route to life, commissioned its design team to completely remodel and modernize the interior of the rail cars, working alongside a team of six people from Control4 México to ensure all the tech was seamlessly integrated into the design.
This project includes nine rail cars—six passenger cars, a bar car, a two-story dining car, and an uncovered terrace car where passengers can admire the spectacular scenery in the open air. Stunning new interiors Roomy, chocolate- brown leather seats complement a wood-finished interior in multiple tan tones that exudes natural warmth, comfort, and sophistication. In the bar, passengers can relax in one of the sumptuous curvy couches or hop on a sprung, leather-seated stool around the impressive marbled bar. Meanwhile, the luxury dining car invites passengers to enjoy a meal at their leisure sitting at the large wooden tables while the scenery whizzes by.
Much of the technology is hidden, but any that’s visible only enhances the smooth elegance of the design, while simultaneously adding a splash of modernism. Wall-mounted smart lanterns and flush-mounted smart ceiling lights throughout the train can be remotely controlled or set to automatic lighting scenes that suit the time of day and location. Every rail car also has giant, pin-sharp screens, as well as an integrated audio and PA system, security cameras, and automated temperature control.
Chepe staff have a Control4 touch screen that lets them play music, operate the PA system, adjust the lighting and temperature, play content on the screens, and monitor the security cameras. They also have a smart Control4 keypad that allows them to trigger predefined scenes. So as the train departs the station there’s a “welcome” scene that switches the lights on and plays an introductory video…just sit back and enjoy the ride……
If you have an interesting project that needs some expert advice regarding integrated technology and control systems, then why not speak to a LUXAVO system design consultant today. We will make the ordinary extraordinary.
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